November has come and gone, leaving behind the experience of participating in NaNoWriMo*. And winning!!
I came out exhilarated and thrilled beyond belief at what I had accomplished. I signed up for this ten days into the month and truly questioned my own sanity. However, I had no real concern that I couldn’t reach 50,000 words. My daily goal was high (2,500 words per day) but manageable. Once I set my mind to something, I tend to complete the task, pushing myself until it’s done. I am happy to say I achieved each daily goal, resulting in a story of 50,695 words. But perhaps more importantly, at least for me, I resisted the urge to go back and edit, to think and re-think previous scenarios.
You see, editing in the midst of writing and over-thinking the characters, the plot, and every other detail has always been my downfall. I admit to having rabid tendencies to make things “perfect” straight out of the box. I am my own harshest critic. So, when I tried to write in the past, I always found myself coming up against severe doubt in my abilities coupled with rampant cases of writer’s block. In essence, I would over-think my way out of the story.
In NaNoWriMo, if a person intends to succeed, those detrimental traits have to be set aside. I worried most that I would fail at that. Perhaps I pushed myself harder because of that fear. I don’t know. All I do know is that I didn’t let my doubts stop me and writer’s block took a leave of absence. I truly DID win.
Learning to put those negative tendencies aside was the most important thing I gained from the experience. Following a close second was the fact that I have a first draft of what I hope becomes a true novel. I work best if I have a goal, so I googled the number of words in your average novel. It turns out I’m only a third of the way there but rather than being discouraged, I can actually envision my draft growing up to be a Real Book.
My next step is to print it out and start editing. There are a number of changes I want to make. I need to add scenes that came to mind as I wrote, typically many pages past where they should go. My characters aren’t fully developed but they have a good, solid start. My prose is too flowery in places.
None of this is a bad thing. Ordinarily, I would think it would be but not after doing NaNoWriMo. I gained a freedom and a confidence I didn’t know I was missing.
In my opinion, I wrote a damn good draft. The story flowed organically, each day’s writing leading naturally into the next. What I wrote one day revealed where my characters would go the next day. In the end, they lived happily ever after.
And isn’t that how a cheesy romance novel is supposed to end?
* For those who may not be in the know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Between the 1st of the month and the 30th, participants take on the challenge of writing a novel of 50,000 words. (Note: novel is defined by NaNoWriMo as any original document of 50,000 words. If the writer considers it a novel, so does the organization.) If a person reaches that word count and uploads it to the site, he or she wins the right to say “I did it!!!” plus the knowledge that there might just be a writer in there after all.
© Hilary Clark and “Pining for Poetry & Prose: Pursuing My Passion”, 2010