I recently completed my first (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt at NaNoWriMo. The goal of the Nano program is to write a 50,000 word novel within the 30 days of November. Great concept! Other people have done it, why couldn’t I? Away I went on November 1st.
It started out okay, but I quickly fell behind the pace, and at a certain point my word count just hit a wall. Here are my stats for each day, so you can picture what this looks like:
At around the end of the tenth day, I realized that while I was writing as fast as I could, I didn't know where I was going. Also, the pressure to get words down ASAP meant that there was no time for me to think things through. It reminded me of Monty Python’s “100-meter dash for people with no sense of direction.” It became clear that the problem was not my speed, but that I didn't have enough outline to sustain me. I was “pantsing” because I hadn’t taken the time for plotting, and I’m a very slow pantser.
It’s not that I don’t have writing experience; I have written three previous novels. Each took me about a year for the first draft, writing one hour a day. One was carefully plotted out and the other two were written by the seat of the pants method, making them up as I went along. This is okay when you have a year and can take countless non-writing leisure hours mulling over the story, characters and direction for the plot. Nano writing doesn’t allow for that.
This was valuable information. If I’m going to meet my goal of increasing my writing output, I’m starting to see that I will need to do more planning to allow for greater “flow” when I do finally sit down to it each day. Failing at Nano has taught me something important about myself and my writing style.
“You might not have reached the end this November, but here’s the best news of all, saved for last: You created a beginning.”Call it a Nanowrimo fail for the win! I now have a beginning: an 8000 word head start on a story that I love and really look forward to telling. Now for the grunt work and heavy lifting. Time to turn thissnowflake into a blizzard. Wish me luck.
About the author:
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He lives with his wife and daughter in London.
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