Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNoWriMo ends today...

...and I have to say, it's been a wild ride.

I made it to the 50,000 words (and early too!). I can't believe I made it! It is just... WOW. I wrote out enough words for a novel. A whole novel. It's such a great feeling!

Now I feel like discussing everything that I've learned from this experience...

The Good & The Not So Good

The good things I discovered about NaNoWriMo:  It helps you focus and get out whole scenes without stopping to fix that pesky grammatical error you made in paragraph one. I was able to get stuff written out completely, no stopping, no questioning where I was going. I didn't waste time redoing everything like I usually do. It made me feel accomplished.

The not so good things I discovered about NaNoWriMo:  Writing so much hurts your wrists and hands and makes your brain feel like mush because you're thinking about it all the time and cannot focus on anything else or fix a scene that you realize later on that you don't even want because the story has different meaning now...

That was a run on sentence... which leads me to one of the biggest trials I faced during NaNo...

Grammar

Oh, how I missed fixing my grammar. Not that my grammar is always proper. At one point early on I ran the spelling/grammar check when I was trying to figure out what to write next to pass the time. Holy errors Batman! It actually helped trigger a few scenes better going through what I'd already written. Kept me on task. But seriously, not being able to correct myself just about drove me nuts. I think that's why my brain felt like mush because I couldn't correct problems or use a thesaurus. I kept using the same words over and over again to convey the emotion or feeling a person was having.

Character Development

One thing I wish I had more time to do beforehand was character development. I didn't really know much about my characters before I dove into the story. I had a rough idea of how I wanted my main character to be, but not really any idea of how she truly WAS. Once I started writing further on in the story, personality quips would pop up out of nowhere that weren't implemented in the beginning. So, some of the beginning is a very very very very rough draft. Not really in depth to evoke emotions they should be feeling and portraying in their reactions.

I do have to say though, that I probably wouldn't have been able to develop Adrienne's personality properly without the blitz writing. The more I wrote, the more I learned about my characters. I was able to map out better why they were doing what I wanted them to do. Think more on their background and the stories that led up to where they were in a scene.

Which leads me to something that made this very hard...

Not Enough Scenes

I did not outline enough scenes. My outline was a very sketchy plan. Once I reached a certain point, I had this realization that I did not plan out enough scenes to make it last to the 50,000. I knew if I kept going I was only going to be at 25,000 measly words. And they weren't enough, they barely scratched the surface of what was really happening. So I had to mull over what other little details my story was missing. Some backstory ideas, some new characters that needed to be there, a better side conflict.

I went back to the beginning and added in several scenes in between sections [in brackets like this]. This way when I could finally edit I knew where the story took different turns and needed some work to make smoother transitions. As time went on, I came up with better scene ideas that made the story much richer. Instead of not getting it out there, I went ahead and added it in before the original scene [in brackets of course]. This was a good thing for me to do, since it helped the story along more when I finally got to the final scenes.

The Verdict?

NaNoWriMo is a great way of jump starting your writing when you're in a rut. It helped me learn how to schedule my writing time in between other important things in life. I was able to get out a whole story, albeit in a very messy fashion.

Here's the thing though, as good as it was for me, I don't want to do it again. It really did a number on me. Writing so much just drove me up the wall, made sleep impossible, and frustrated me beyond belief. I didn't get to read hardly at all. I have to admit, my obsession with reading really helped my writing a lot. When I wasn't reading as much, my writing wasn't the same. Spending so much time on just writing one thing can feel like a rut in itself. I had several good epiphanies come to me for other story ideas I've put on the back-burner. Of course, writing them out would have taken me away from my NaNo story. All I could do is make note of the idea and keep going on the current project. That was frustrating. I also needed to do some research on a few things so I could come up with situations that were realistic. But I didn't get to figure that out because it would have taken too much time.

Do I regret participating in NaNoWriMo then? Heck no! It was a blast! I was able to figure out the perfect balance that is needed for my writing from it. I can't spend every day writing 1667 words, but realistically I could do 300-600. And since I dedicated certain time slots to writing, I could see where an adjustment  needed to be made during normal months. Some of the time can be dedicated for just writing, the rest for reading and other activities.

I also found that I missed my blog too. A lot. I missed planning for it and I missed reading and I missed writing reviews. December will be chock full of getting back to it. Anything I come up with will probably be scheduled for January though. I have too many books to finish by the end of the year now.

How About You?

Remember when I said I wanted to hear your thoughts? Comment below and tell me what you got from your experience during National Novel Writing Month. I'll take those comments and compile them into a post (including your blog link). If you don't want me to include your comment, you can just state that in your comment. If you do, please state that you want yours to be included in the post. Thanks!

TO ALL MY FELLOW NANOWRIMO FRIENDS:

If you have finished, CONGRATULATIONS !!! If you are still plugging away, I believe in you--YOU CAN DO IT !!!


~Jessica

5 comments:

  1. I have about 1600 more words -- should finish during a write-in this evening, which will be fun!

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  2. Joy, that's awesome. :) I'm so happy to hear you're close to finished.

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  3. Congrats on your win!! That's fantastic!! I think your idea of the brackets is brilliant. I tend to only outline enough for about 30,000 words, but unlike a lot of writers I often have no idea where the story will end up.

    I kind of like being able to make some adjustments as I go along, I also like getting to know my characters as I am writing, I love the surprises. For example, in Last Mountains I started writing with the intention that my FMC would end up with a certain other character, but turns out one of my background throw away characters had an interest, seeing him become a more important character blew everything out of the water, it was suprising to me so maybe it will be surprising to the readers.

    I did see that in the nano shop they had work books for planning out your story and getting to know your characters before you start. I have every intention of ordering a few of those, I think they will come in handy.

    Everyone writes at their own pace, your nano month might just need to be two or three months long to maintain your sanity. I am fortunate enough to have a job with a computer and lulls. I have noticed that once I get writing I can easily turn out 2000 - 3000 words in a single sitting, but not everyone has that kind of time.

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  4. Congrats on winning Jessica! I only just barely scraped past the finish line as well and can completely understand what you say about NaNoWriMo really doing a number on you. For the whole of November I did nothing but think about my MS and everything else sort of fell by the wayside. It's probably my own fault for not planning better. I still really enjoyed it and the proof is in the writing. Without NaNo I don't think I would have even started my book by now let alone already have 50,000 plus words written in such a short time. I had the same problem with you regarding scenes. I'd come up with a really great couple of scenes and then when I started writing, realised that they could be condensed into a short paragraph and then I had to fill in the other bits as I went. Very stressful. I think I will def do it again next year but I'll need to be much better planned.

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  5. Angie: It is nice to make adjustments as you go along. Sometimes when I'm coming up with ideas, I tend to stick with the same idea forever and not realize that I need to adapt it, until I get to writing it. My original idea for the story I did for NaNo had an entirely different premise, but like 6 months later it changed to it's current plot. Those workbooks sound great! I may have to check them out. You're totally right--a three month NaNo would be perfect for me. :)

    Lan: I think a lot of us didn't plan as well as we wanted to. Yes! Without NaNo I probably wouldn't have gotten anywhere near the word count I have. I have a feeling the same thing with condensing will happen to me too when I start editing. At least you have a little less than 11 months to plan for next year! ;)

    Thank you both!

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Thank you for commenting and happy reading!

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