Monday, December 4, 2017

NaNo, Now What?

I did this NaNo thing last month, 50,000+ words when previously I'd never managed more than 12,000 in that time.

Even starting the month I didn't think I would be able to, but then I switched to writing by hand, which you'd think would take longer, but 1) I write pretty fast by hand (not that anyone but me can read my writing when I'm going that fast, and all the personal shorthand doesn't help), 2) I can take it anywhere with me, and 3) I don't edit as I go, which I do when composing by keyboard. I do all my other writing this way, I don't know why I'd gotten into the habit of something different for my fiction.

Plus I got connected with some other writer types - through the Chicago NaNo Facebook group, through Twitter, through emails with the all of two people I know in real life who write fiction - and that gave me inspiration to keep trying as well.

But even so I was amazed at what happened over the course of the month. I've heard NaNo described as a gym for writers and that was what happened for me. My sit-my-butt-in-one-place-and-just-write muscles got stronger. Like, ten times their size. And I wasn't as worried about being able to "come up with something good" either. Hell, it didn't matter. I just had to come up with something - and I got better at doing that too - time and editing will sort out what's good and what isn't, and what has the germ of something good but needs a lot more work to let it flower.

Since I've been working on this novel for over a year (NaNo was a way for me to jumpstart the total rewrite I needed to do thanks to a change in POV and some pesky paranormal stuff that demanded to be made more prominent - thus necessitating total change in backstory and plot details as well, thank you oh so much), I do actually have an idea of what happens in this story overall. So I know, for example, that I'm two scenes away from the end of Act 1 at this point and that I'm probably a third of the way through the whole thing. That is, a lot more writing still to be done.

My secondary goal for the month was to finish the first act, so after taking a few days off to just not think about it, I plan to keep going at a somewhat more moderate pace until I've done that. Then start the process of typing in all those lovely handwritten pages and I'll be editing on the fly as I do that.

And then another push for act two, and then another for act three... I want to finish this first draft by the end of my birthday month, four months from now. And I know there are plenty of people who would say however long it takes is fine... but no. I have more stories to tell. (Already thinking about next year's NaNo...)

But I can't say strongly enough how huge it was for me to "win" NaNo. Kind of thinking of myself as a real writer now... And I don't want to lose that, no way, no how.

I may have to be a complete dork and put up my winner's certificate where I can see it every day.

What it feels like to want something so much,

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