Friday, November 9, 2018

NANOWRIMO: Nine Days In

I decided to actually roll up my sleeves and do NANOWRIMO this year on a whim, really. I always think about doing it and have for several years now, but one thing always seems to lead to another and I never actually get it off the ground. But this year, it seemed tailor made to beat the pile of words I already had for my third book into shape and so far, I couldn't be happier with how it's going.

Right now, nine days in and I'm flying...  I've taken a pile of words that I wasn't getting anywhere with and hopefully (hopefully) by the end of the month it's going to be the working draft of my third novel. Why the success?

First: outlining, outlining, outlining. I've done it before on other projects, but for whatever reason I didn't really sit down and do a full outline for this one. When I finally did, a week or so before the start of November, it was like everything clicked. I wasn't going to just drop the readers into the story as I had originally planned- I crafted a fresh start and slotted what was my start in at about Chapter Three. And it worked...  I'm actually surprised how well it worked. (For the record: I may reach 50,000 words well before the end of the month, but I plan on going well beyond that. I want to finish the damn thing this month not just get my winner's badge and quit.)

Second: if you've noticed that blogging is a little lighter than usual this month, well, this is why. I wanted to put my novel on the front burner and that meant slowing down the content generation on the blog side for a month or so. It's something I usually do anyway, because I like to stop and think about where the blog is an what I'm going to do with the blog in the next year or so. All this writing is nice, but if you're going to build a car, you can gain a great deal of pleasure from the act of doing so- yet at the same time, if you're going to go to all that trouble you want to take it somewhere, you know? That's the challenge of my blog- a challenge that I wanted to set aside to concentrate on this for awhile.

I've been sitting on six, seven chapters of a novel and have been curiously unsatisfied with it all since about late last year. Thirty days to kick it in the ass and bring some life back into it? A short, sharp shock seems to be exactly what it needed. I don't know what it's going to look like when it's done- but it's going to be done. That's the most important thing of all. Never underestimate the power of giving your writing a short, sharp shock- even a month long one seems to have done wonders for this book- and I'm only nine days into the actual month.

Third: taking one chunk at a time seems to have been the secret to a lot of my success as well. The whole point of NANOWRIMO is to just write write write and not worry about the quality until you've got a mountain of words at the other end of the month. Normally, I'd say I'd be more concerned about having it all feel right to me before moving along- but I think that's also where the outlining comes into play. If it makes sense on your outline, then it might be a lot easier to take it one chunk at a time and just keep on moving.

Would I do this again? You know, I think I would. It's always popped onto my radar and after making excuse after excuse finally doing it feels pretty awesome actually. I think the next challenge for NANOWRIMO is going to be outlining a novel and then just writing it cold from day one instead of using this as a platform to beat an existing pile of words into the shape of a novel. (It sort of feels like cheating a little, but I'm also on track to exceed 50K words well before the end of the month. My challenge with this isn't to reach 50K...  it's to end with a working draft of my third novel. So far, so good.)

Okay: back to writing. I just wanted to update y'all on what I'm doing and why blogging has been relatively light as of late.

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