For those who are not familiar with it, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an activity where people attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Discover more at www.nanowrimo.org.
That said, I’ve been involved in NaNoWriMo for nearly every year since 2009. I like the sense of sharing an adventure with millions of other people working toward the same goal. And I like the incentive to really focus and concentrate on a writing project.
My first year, I started on November 5 with no idea of the story I wanted to tell. All I had was a setting I liked. It was a crazy scramble every day, writing like a maniac, with no idea where I was going. But you know what? I hit 50K words. And it was FUN. At the end, I had a sweet little story that… well. Okay, it needed some major revision. But it was still a great start.
Each year I try to get better at it. I began to plan ahead (although it might be a stretch to call it plotting). Some years I’ve liked what I produced, and other years my efforts were abandoned. But the important thing was, I learned more about the craft of writing, I made fewer mistakes that I’d need to fix later, and I persevered.
That brings me to this year – I had a story idea all waiting to go. I had plot, a world, and characters. Not, perhaps, as well developed as they should have been; but more than I’d started from any other year. (Actually, I suspect I should have done a LOT MORE world building before attempting a science fiction story. Oh well.) But four days and five thousand words in, it just wasn’t jelling. The energy wasn’t there.
Don’t worry – I didn’t give up. I innovated. Spent the month where I needed the effort — in heavy editing. It’s not my traditional way to spend November, but you know what? Editing comes after writing. It’s progress that matters.