The Same 5 Things NaNoWriMo Teaches Me Every Year

NaNoWriMo- short for National Novel Writing Month. A lot of things happen in November, especially the one we just had. NaNo is what I choose to focus my energy on. It’s the fifth year consecutive I’ve written for this event, but I still find the process forcing me to rediscover certain recurring things about the writing process, and my own writing overall. My biggest series have come from NaNoWriMo sessions, mostly because its the time I can’t allow myself to procrastinate. In that time crunch, your primal writer brain acts in its most basic, creative form, which is perhaps why I can’t help but find myself in the throes each and every year.

Don’t expect these to blow your mind, especially if you write yourself, but in my case, its these things that keep me coming back to writing:

One: You don’t really know about your characters until you’ve gone on the journey with them. I didn’t know my MC’s motivations until later in the story when choices had to be made. I knew a supporting character was snarky, but I didn’t know why he had that outlook. The bad guy wasn’t who I thought they were. You could attribute this to a chicken-egg situation, but in the end, you the writer are still the creator of both.

Two: Too much thinking beforehand gets you off track. Trying to weasel in a situation or a witty line of dialogue from your favorite character that you thought of hours or days previous may take your scene or story away from a more natural path. This is very similar to point number one. I can have this happen to lead to the conflict I want, but is that the conflict the story wants? Overall, NaNoWriMo is about spontaneity, and while its nice to know where you’re headed, its also satisfying to have events unfold organically.

Three: Starting is the biggest hurdle. Starting a new book, a new chapter, a new setting, new characters, of course- but not just the literary facets. I just got back to work after an entire week off (hooray for working at a school.) Getting up and having my first coffee of the day at noon all week was great, which set me up for a day of playing video games or watching movies. But oh, wait, I had 1,667 words- give or take- to have to write that day, and that meant moving things around. But you know what? The second I started, I was in it until those words, and often many more, were written. In fact with the progress I was able to make early on, I hit the goal of 50k just the day after Thanksgiving.

Four: I suck at words. Even, and especially when I’m in a groove of writing after that first starting hurdle is when my brain is so caught up in plot or dialogue or description that describing whole swaths of emotion or action can end up coming down to one or two adjectives . Quickly. Slowly. Anxiously. I always have up on my second monitor, which incidentally blocks out anything that could be considered distracting. But then again, the process of going back and fixing issues like that leads to my final point…

Five: It isn’t done, it’s just due. I think it was my third or fourth grade teacher to teach me that line. You could potentially say that line every day of NaNoWriMo. Some days you’re into it. Other days, it was just enough hit par on the number of words so I could take a break to refill my creative juices, or come back in hopes of breaking through exposition and to some real meat and your next big plot point. 1,667 words- the average each day needed for reaching 50k in one month- isn’t that many if you’ve been writing more than a little bit. It certainly isn’t much in the course of a story. Certainly not everyone has my schedule and time off, and likely can’t write every single day the way they would hope to. A couple of years ago, I was out of town for Thanksgiving, and there were a good many times I ignored long-missed relatives so I could keep up the word count for that day. Was it worth it? Yes, because I’m an introvert in the first place. Those things are beside the point, but then again, to each their own.

All my NaNoWriMo novels have gone other places- Amazon in this case, if you care to check out my home page with links for where to buy. That meant a lot of work from the very rough draft of something written with borderline reckless abandon to something I could call publishable. One could spend ages trying to fish up and tame every awkward sentence, but some time you will have to move on.

What’s on the horizon?

  • Finishing up Second Coming
  • Prequel for Of Armor and Bone?
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