Thursday, December 3, 2009

Life After NaNoWriMo

I won NaNo with 50,997 words five days before the finish date. I could have continued and added to my word count but instead I opted for a rest.

For those unfamiliar with National Novel Writing Month, also known as
NaNoWriMo, it's a writing project held every year in November. Participants sign up and attempt to pen a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30. Chris Baty started the project in 1999. At that time there were twenty-one participants. This year, 2009, there were over 170,000 from all over the world.

I waited a few days and opened my doc expecting to be bedazzled with brilliance. NOT! I knew it would be a mess. After all I wrote whatever came into my head, kind of like stream-of-consciousness - a continuous flow of crap. Actually it wasn't all that bad. It will only take a few years to clean it up.

So what did I get out of NaNo? A lot. It was a personal challenge and a motivating experience to get past procrastinating. And I accomplished my number one goal. My reason for signing up in the first place was to get past my annoying habit of editing my first three chapters ad infinitum.

Those who have entered writing contests know that they usually require only the first three chapters. Agents, editors and publishers usually require three chapters to be submitted. A new writer can get stuck polishing those beginning chapters forever. This was the first time I wrote something straight through without going back to edit. It was liberating. Now the whole gist of my novel is there in front of me and it's so much easier to go back and revise when I have a pretty good idea where it's all going. So that's my real prize and what NaNo is all about - learning to be a better writer.