Nanowrimo is winding down. People are either typing furiously to get those last few hundred words done or basking in the glory of a job well done. Now is a good time to sit back and think about what I have learned from this year’s experience.
- It gets easier every year. I truly struggled to get to 50,000 words in 2010. In 2011, it was easier to get to 25,000 words in my abbreviated attempt. I didn’t have any trouble getting to 50,000 words this year. I take this as a testament to a daily writing habit. Nanowrimo is more intense than my usual “write something every day” habit but it’s not unlike a person who takes a walk every day pushing themselves to walk five miles a day for a month.
- There is value to knowing that you are capable of writing two or three thousand words in a day. Participating in Nanowrimo forces you to stop saying ‘I can’t,’ sit your butt in the chair and just do it. Some days you only write 500 or so words but others, you spew out thousands. And, with some measure of consistency.
- Not all ideas are good ideas. Let’s face it, many a Nanonovel should go no further than a dusty thumb drive floating around in the back of your paperclip drawer. Then again, some ideas are fabulous. You don’t know if those characters that have been bouncing around inside your head have anything worthwhile to say to the world until you get the words on the page.
- Finish your thoughts. Even if you have reached the 50,000 word mark, keep going until you get all the story still bouncing around in your head down on the page. Write it all down – the backstory, the setting, all the possible side plots. Everything.
- Then, put it in a drawer (or a virtual drawer) and get on with your life. Once you have completed a messy first draft of your nano novel, put it in a cool dry place and walk away so it can ferment. Set a reminder to look over the draft in a few months and get back to that novel you were working on in October. When you return to your nanonovel, it will either be a young wine that can be edited into a fine vintage or it will be vinegar. If so, that’s too bad. Move on.
- Even if you do absolutely nothing with the words you write in a Nano November, you’ve written them.