I feel I owe it to myself to record my first NaNoWriMo experience.
I’m glad I took the challenge. I like competing against myself. All the support I needed I found inside me and in a few friends who knew I was doing it. In my mind, writing is a solitary business; that’s why I write. Or perhaps writing chose me because I’m a solitary person. I’m dancing on my own.
I finished five days ahead of schedule. Up until today, I didn’t check the NaNo website. Apparently, I had to validate my writing, but I missed to do it. In my mind, my job was done the moment I hit 50,000 words (more accurately, 50,052, to finish the sentence). I challenged myself, I completed the challenge. End of story.
So what else did I learn except that I could write under pressure?
Structuring and plotting doesn’t work for me. I had my story planned, but I didn’t stick to the plan. I found the explanation for it on some writing website: the character-oriented writers are usually bad plotters. Makes sense. My stories are character-driven.
Although it did help me to have some basic structure before I started writing, I won’t try to push myself into a mold that doesn’t fit my shape. For me, structuring works better backwards, which the big plotting advocates strongly discourage: to write a novel first and then apply the structure. For me, it’s like having a slab of marble and knowing that inside is a beautiful statue. All you need to do is chisel off what you don’t need. Nothing’s wrong with that.
I spent on average four hours per day writing to reach the goal. If I’d had to spend the same amount of time with no goal, I would’ve ended up with perhaps 30,000 words of much better material. Being unable to go back and change things was driving me nuts. There are pages and pages of unusable text that I would have never written if I’d had time to think and feel my story better.
Would I do it again?
I don’t know. It depends on how fast I’ll be able to complete this novel. If it’s going to take me the next six months, then the NaNo challenge was a waste of time and energy. I could’ve typed my name 50,000 times for all the good it will have brought me. I can probably write a novel of this size in six months following my own pace, with much less frustration.
I have that hot cover with Lucy and Charlie on it, however, and this is the best motivation factor to finish their story.