National Novel Writing Month is finished for 2015, and I’ve taken a bit of a break from my novel. I wrote a few hundred words on Tuesday. Otherwise, I’ve been catching up on Netflix (I just started watching Sherlock with Cumberbatch and Martin. Quick rip: I like it). But I really only want this to be a temporary break from writing to reset my brain.
I thought about doing a whole Buzzfeed-esque list of “10 LESSONS I LEARNED FROM NANO” or “YOU WON”T BELIEVE WHAT ONE WRITER DID IN NOVEMBER,” but who actually wants to read that? I don’t. However, I do want to share my thoughts on the NaNo experience, now that I’ve really lived it. Still, I’ll make it easy on everyone by highlighting each ‘lesson’.
Writing has to be a habit. Last night, as I was watching Netflix and making dinner, I actually felt like I should have been writing; not that I particularly wanted to, mind you. It was like I was breaking a routine, like skipping the gym to pick up fast food with a friend. And that’s actually a fantastic feeling. That means that I managed to make writing a habit through NaNo. I just need to keep up the routine. That’s probably the biggest lesson I took from NaNo; writing has to be a habit, a routine, a lifestyle. I’ve read it in a thousand blogs and forums, but it didn’t hit home until I managed to achieve that.
It doesn’t matter. Just effin’ write. Not every single word has to be perfect. The plot could even be in shambles. Making an effort to just write is good enough– to start. I had a vague sense of my upcoming plot when I started NaNo. I knew the major beats, and even those were altered as I went. The key was that once I actually started to get my ideas on virtual paper, fleshing out dialogue, and building scenes, the plot just came to me naturally.
The story I currently have is the totally organic, unfiltered story that was locked away in my brain for years. It will take a lot of work to polish it, but that is not nearly as daunting as staring at a 10,000-word first chapter and wishing for a book to magically appear. Don’t worry about the plot, or the intricacies of phrasing and facial expressions. Just fuckin’ write.
Don’t look back. I’ve harped on this a lot, because I tend to linger on my own shortcomings, but one reason I did not make significant progress on my story in the year between NaNo’s 2014 and 2015 is because I was too focused on what I had already written. I felt like I needed the scant words I had to be perfect before I could move forward. That was a mistake.
NaNo taught me how to simply get the words out, so I can spend a couple months revising everything at once, weaving little threads into the plot to thicken it as I go. I’ve already started compiling a list of details to revise or include in various parts of the story.
I’m going to steal a page from a fellow NaNo’er Rachel Poli (go check out her blog), and start posting my monthly goals. Having the urge to ‘win’ NaNo is what really drove me to write as much as I did. I think publishing my monthly goals will give me that little extra boost. I don’t like coming up short, especially in front of my vast and loyal cadre of followers (hi Mom!).
One of my goals for the year was to write 100,000 words total in my novel. My word count at the start of the year was 26,636. After NaNo, I have 91,723 words total. That means I have 34,913 words to go to add 100,000 in 2015. I intend to reach that goal. With 28 days left in the year (holy shit), I need to average 1,247 words per day — easy compared to what I’ve already done.
I shall provide updates as I go, per usual. Don’t let me falter followers! Hold me accountable!