HAPPY THANKSGIVING! With only three days to go until the end of this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), it’s time to look back. I’ve been frustrated with the progress I’m making on the second draft of my novel Lost Girl Road, so rather than let those feelings get the best of me, I decided to channel my energy in a more positive direction. I focused my NaNo efforts on short pieces of fiction and nonfiction. It’s safe to say I’m on track to finish the month with the requisite 50,000 words needed to call myself a winner. Woot!
The lessons I’ll take away from this month are not earth-shattering. More than anything, I needed this time to find an excuse to focus on writing. Too often, I don’t make writing a priority because I’m too busy distracting myself with becoming a better blogger, a better marketer, a better freelance editor…. I’m sure you get my drift.
Develop A Game Plan
This goes beyond the obvious daily word count goal. Are you the type of writer who can draft without a plan? That’s not me. I’m definitely a plotter, not a pantster, so I took the time to generate titles before NaNoWriMo began, which also meant I developed a vague notion of what each piece would be about.
Find an Accountability Partner
I signed-up at the official National Novel Writing Month website and added a few buddies, and then I never logged back in. Every now and again I checked the #nanowrimo hashtag on Twitter, but for the most part I reported my daily progress to Jon Jefferson via Facebook messages. Simply being accountable to just one person can make all the difference when it comes to getting the writing done.
Give Yourself Permission to Write Badly
I really struggle with this. During NaNo I decided to wear a rubber band around my wrist that I would snap when I started to go back and edit what I’d just written. Self-torture seemed to do the trick. Even better, I realized I have a tendency to sit and think about what I want to write. Thinking is not writing! It’s safe to say about 80% of what I wrote is utter garbage, but each piece definitely has a pulse that I can now worth with.
Write at Your Peak Time
For instance, I now know beyond a doubt that I must write first thing in the morning before the distractions of the day finds me making an excuse not to get the writing done. Plus, my brain basically shuts down after dinner. On the other hand, some people write better at night, or maybe you write better locked in the laundry room because that’s the one room in the house nobody will try to find you.
Stick to Your Goals
This is always easier said than done. I started with taking Saturdays off, but that quickly faded. At one point, I missed a Saturday and a Sunday and catching up meant upping my word count for a week. The funny thing about accomplishment is how achieving goals becomes like a drug. At least now I have a start on a good number of projects I’m looking forward to revising later down the road.
Was it Worth it?
Will I participate in National Novel Writing Month next year? It’s hard to say. The worth of fast drafting lies in how it can enable a writer to tap their subconscious, and I really struggle with finding those types of flow experiences.
In any case, I’m aiming to publish a collection of short travel memoirs about national parks this spring. I’ll polish the short stories I wrote and start submitting them to literary journals. Oh yeah, and the coming year will see me starting another round of revisions on Lost Girl Road. It’s all about momentum.
What writing realizations have you had about how you go about getting the writing done?
Don’t forget to enter my drawing for FREE HOLIDAY MOVIE TICKETS. The winner will be announced on Thur. 12/19.
Photo Credit: Magnified Print
Article by Jeri Walker-Bickett aka JeriWB