I’m a NaNo Loser and Proud of It

It’s now four days into December, and NaNoWriMo is all wrapped up. The goal was to write 50,000 words, and I will tell you straight up: I did not make it to 50,000 words.

But, the good news is, I wrote about 39,000. That’s great! I’ve never written a number of words anywhere near that big in any other month, ever. I’m glad I signed up for NaNo, because had I not, I’m pretty sure I would have written zero words of that book.

I’m hoping to work consistently on that manuscript throughout December. If I do that, I should have a complete first draft around January 1st.

Working through the ups and downs of NaNoWriMo taught me a few things, and reminded me of a few others.

  1. When I’m going “off outline” and start to panic, if I keep writing, sometimes I come up with something better than what I originally outlined.
  2. Forcing myself to write daily meant that sometimes I wasn’t in the mood or was distracted or was just plain tired by the time I got some time to sit by myself and write. But occasionally, those very “I’m not in the right headspace” moments turned into my most creative. Weird-but-cool stuff would come out that if I’d been calm and in my usual efficient state of mind, I probably would never have dreamed up.
  3. That little “Project Target” widget in Scrivener is priceless. All I wanted to do from the moment I clicked on it each day was watch it turn from read to green as I approached my targeted word count for the day. Also, I can see that the Project Target is getting closer and closer to green, and it’s making me persist past November 30th.
  4. Pushing forward without editing is helping me just keep chugging along. It’s so hard to fight the desire to just fix, fix, fix to perfection as I move along, but I’ll never finish that way.

Anyway, I’ve got a few short pieces I’ve been wanting to work on, and I think I’m just pushing them off until January (excepting those due back to my normal employers, because: deadlines! paychecks!) so I can finish this novel. I have a bad feeling that if I stop now, I’ll never, ever finish.

Now, some questions for you:

-Did you do NaNoWriMo?

-If yes, did you “win”?

-If you didn’t win, what lessons did you learn?

-And if you did, what’s your next step?

closeup photography of loser scrabble letter

Photo by Shamia Casiano on Pexels.com

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How attached are you to your dreams?

Taking feedback and running with it

I’m still thinking about the story that I mentioned in a post earlier this week, the one that I ran by the beta-testers that I’d acquired through my newsletter.

On Monday, my sister phoned, and she wanted to know about the comments people had made about the story (she had been one of those to offer feedback). In particular, she wanted to know which comments were those which I’d mentioned had popped up multiple times.

I told her what the comment was, and then added: Continue reading

Some clear ideas from the author of Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

Wednesday’s L.A. Times online contains an intriguing interview with David Mitchell, the author of the novel Cloud Atlas, which has recently received renewed attention due to its film adaptation. Mr. Mitchell’s comments are worth reading, as they illuminate some of the points I’ve been blogging about recently.
On the topic of inspiration (see my original post here), Mitchell says:

I think Mr. Mitchell just blew some of those clouds away. It looks like smooth sailing ahead!

When I go to a place I get a number of free gifts. I get some good lines about the environment. If I was here for long enough, and could have a little time to walk around more thoughtfully, I’ll get five decent sentences. Or halfway decent sentences, or sentences I can make worthwhile. About the place; they’re textual photographs. I’m just in the habit of taking them. Maybe because it was a long time before I had a camera.

Do you jot them down?

Yeah. It gives you something to do in restaurants and not look like a sad sack. And also makes the staff nervous that you’re a reviewer, so they’re nice. You should try it, it works! If you get these free gifts, use them in the text, use them in the prose, use them in descriptions. Put them in and they’re lovely little things to find on the forest footpath of the story, of the book. 

What’s interesting about the process that David Mitchell so clearly describes is that its both what I’ve previously called “the flash” of inspiration AND “foraging” for it. Continue reading