Tuesday, November 29, 2011

10 Things Tuesday: 10 Things I've Learned From Doing NaNoWriMo This Year...

As I mentioned late last month, I signed up to do the National Novel Writing Month project in November.

Actually, I'm sure it started out as national way back when, but these days it's well and truly international (maybe InNoWriMo just sounds too weird?).

The aim of the project is to get writer's from all around the world to dedicate a solid month to their craft and try and achieve the goal of writing 50 000 words of a novel. It can be an entire novel or part thereof. At the end of the month, writer's submit their writing (scrambled, so no one can steal their idea) for a word count and those who have made it to the 50 000 word mark, or beyond, are hailed as WINNERS! No matter whether the writer meets this goal or not, everyone is encouraged to keep working on the project their started at NaNo.

So, I thought I'd sum up my first experience of NaNo here.

10 Things I've Learned From NaNo.

1.  Participating in NaNo is a fantastic way to meet and get to know other writers.

2.  It is amazing what you can achieve in a 10, 15 or 30 minute word war; a writing sprint to get as many words (in some sort of sensible order) down on the page).

3.  Some writers are methodical and plan their NaNo project months in advance with cue cards and fancy writing programs like Scrivener. Others are what's known as pantsers; they write by the seat of their pants.

4. Being a pantser is thrilling! It's an adrenalin rush that I've been hooked on for years. It is also exhausting as I never quite know where I'm going after the next scene is complete - and when there is a deadline and word count looming, that can be pretty scary, too.

5. Some NaNo participants reach 50 000 words written within twenty four hours. Some write over 300 000 words in those 30 days. Some view NaNo as a personal challenge and try to beat their personal record each year. Some are just relieved and totally stoked if they win (finally!) after years of trying. Some aren't interested in the word count but rather in creating a writing habit every day. Some join in just to chat about writing. Some join to go to the write-ins and possibly meet a hot like-minded writery sort. Nano attracts a huge variety of writers with an equally varying number of reasons for being there.

6. Sometimes, even though you've previously managed to write 40 000 words in nine days, the goal of reaching 50 000 in 30 days might as well be your first attempt at climbing Mount Everest. Sometimes life is just too full, and the writer's head is just too unsettled to get the words to form satisfying little lines on the page.

7.  Next year I'm aiming at being one of those NaNos who had their story all planned out on little cue cards sorted electronically on Scrivener, so that writing will be less about creating the story on the go and more about finding the right words to say what I've already planned.

8.  Even when not actually writing, NaNo is a time when the writer is constantly encouraged to turn their story over in their head. The writer is stimulated and inspired by the work of those around them. So, this month I've discovered the voice of my story and I know where I want to take it. I know where some of the holes in the plot lie (which is always good to know because avoiding falling into a plot hole saves a writer a lot of bumps and scrapes along the way). I'm happier with my novel now than I was a month ago, despite not having even come close to the word count.

9.  Back up! And then double check your back up! There is nothing as disheartening when you haven't managed to keep up with the daily deadline of words, than to find that a portion of the few words you have managed to wring out have disappeared into the ether! So, have a thumb drive, get a Dropbox account, and back that manuscript up - do it every hour if you want, you won't regret it!

10. I love writing more than ever before! I'm more inspired to keep writing, to keep honing the craft, than I've ever been before. I've discovered I have a unique voice in the Australian writing community and there is room for me there, too! I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone who is interested in taking on this challenge to do so next year - it doesn't matter if you don't reach the magical 50 000 words (I won't this year, but I'm going to give another red hot shot next year - with my planned-within-an-inch-of-its-life plot). The winning is in the participating!

Join me in 2012!

I'm linking this post up with Diary of a SAHM for


themodernparent said...

That's fantastic. I think the most important thing is that you are happier with where your novel is at now than you were a month ago, so that definitely makes it a successful venture even if you dont reach the word count. I think these types of challenges are great, but it's always good to have your own personal goals. Well done, I look forward to reading it in print one day :)

Veronica @ Mixed Gems said...

Good for you, Sif! Keep chasing your dream. Its inspirational.

Crash Test Mummy said...

I would like to be an organised writer, or even something closely approaching a 'writer'! I'm definitely a 'pantser' blogger! I'm glad you learned things you will apply to next year's NaNo.

Rhianna said...

I am a panster as well, and not a very successful one at that. Glad to hear that you are happy with what you have put out for NaNo as really that is all that matters

EssentiallyJess said...

I wod love to do NaNoRiMo but I just don't have the time or head space at this point in my life. Maybe in a few years I'll be ready to join in. The idea excites me. :)

Jay said...

I wrote my first book as a pantser. It was hard. I pantsed my first attempt at NaNo and stalled at 24K. From there I learned to plot on index cards. I use physical cards, the index card app on my iPad and then transfer that to Scrivener.

I prefer the detailed road map.

Sif Dal said...

Thanks for all you encourage and support guys! It's all a learning process, and luckily one I enjoy immensely!

Jayne, be my sensei! Teach me the way of index cards and Scrivener! What index card app do you use? I have to learn the fine art of planning!

Becky from BeckyandJames.com said...

You've done an amazing job. I signed up, too and completely failed. Big time. But, I am learning and will be back next year, with plans to win.
I love the idea of cue cards and being organised.
I am so glad you've learned so much and enjoyed the journey.
Mostly, this year I have enjoyed following others and learning through them, it's amazing what can be achieved in a month.

Sif Dal said...

Becky, sounds like you got a lot out of participating as well! There is always so much to learn. I've been writing for years, done a couple of writing degrees and still feel like I'm learning new techniques or skills all the times (and no, you don't need to do courses to learn to, just keep writing, keep reading and keep talking to other writers!)...

Gemma @ My Big Nutshell said...

you are too clever Sif!

Good Job!