Sunday, December 5, 2010

Of Nanowrimo 2010

Three things have helped to delay updates to this blog.  Two are Xbox 360 games - Fable 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.  All I will say about them here is that they are great games that make time race by without you realizing it.  Not always a good thing when you're trying to keep up a blog.

The third thing that has taken copious amounts of time is National Novel Writing Month, commonly referred to as Nanowrimo or Nano.  The premise is a simple one: During the month of November, start a new book, and write the first 50,000 words before midnight November 30th.

That number is not a typo.  Fifty thousand words.  If you do the math, it comes to about 1700 words or 7 pages a day.  That is a lot of words.

I've been participating in Nano since 2004.  I pulled off the 50,000 word count in 2005 and 2006, then went through several years when I didn't even come close.

I vowed 2010 was going to be different.

So what did I do?  And did I make the goal? 

One thing that was very important: I wrote EVERY DAY.  Given that my fiction writing was spotty to the point of non-existent in October, this is a big deal.

Every day in November, I packed up my laptop and headed to my favorite coffee shop where I sat and wrote.  On Saturdays when the coffee shop was closed I went to our local Panera's and wrote there.  But each day found me adding words to the work.

On my worst day I only wrote 581 words.  My best day? 3,345.  Those happened in the same week, by the way, which probably means something funny but I can't think what.

Another thing I did was work off a proposal.  I'd gone to a Marketing Workshop in October and we had to come up with proposals for novels we wanted to write.  A total of five, if I'm remembering correctly.

The one I chose - "Oracle of My Enemy" - was a fantasy proposal.  Reading it over, I felt I'd given myself enough of a foundation with what I'd outlined that I could dive into it headlong and blast out the 50,000 words.

Maybe you can just dive into a novel and chug along.  I need at least a foundation, lest I get to the middle of a novel and find myself lost in the wilderness.  Having the proposal was something for me to lean on when I asked myself, "What happens next?" - but was flexible enough I could change things if they didn't work in the story.

I also am blessed that I have a husband who has at least a glimmer of understanding about what Nano meant to me.  Don saw to it I got out of bed early in the morning so I could get out and get the writing done.  He was understanding that some things, such as exercise and housework, fell by the wayside while I went on this quest.  And he asked me how it was going, cheering me on when the wordcount was good, encouraging me when it wasn't what I wanted it to be.

You can have a writing career without your spouse's support, but let me tell you it's a lot easier when they're behind you all the way.

I typed the 50,000th word on November 28th - two days early.  It was a very emotional moment for me, accomplishing this goal after weeks of struggling with my creative brain.  I'd done it - I'd won Nano.

Was it worth it?  Was it worth pushing myself like I did, for a victory that to many would be merely symbolic?

Well, I now have more than 1/2 a novel (that I'm working on finishing).  I also have some confidence in my creative abilities restored after wondering if my creative brain had broken. 

And I've proven that, if I have to, I can pound out 50,000 words of new fiction in a month.

So yeah, very much worth every minute.

Did you do Nano?  Let me know what your experience was like!  Just leave a comment below...