Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

Looking back on last night's frantically excited post, I see that I may have used the phrase "freaking awesome" one too many times, creating reasonable doubt as to the quality of my last month's work.  You know what I have to say to that?  OH WELL.

So it's over, I won, and now it's time to reflect on what actually happened and what I learned and other such things.  First off, my narrative intentions: I'm generally a short story writer but partially out of my own desires and partly in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I decided to try my hand at an extended narrative.  This went okay for a while.  I wrote 20,000 thousand words of a story about a girl who commits suicide, which increasingly bored the pants off of me.  At this point, I decided to start Project #2, a story set in a Superdome-like setting during some undefined disaster about a nanny and her twin charges.  Reading more about Superdome, I decided I hadn't even remotely grasped what that situation would be like and to do so would completely change my story.  Plus, I was bored.  So after 10,000 words of that mess, I returned to Project #1and wrote a short story about the suicide girl's boyfriend which I liked much better, actually finished, and decided to make an independent narrative.  20,000-word prewrite for a 5000-word story?  Whatever works.  Then I decided that I should just work on my in-progress collection of connected short stories and wrote the first drafts of two and the beginning of a third (which I began at around 9.00 last night due to desperation).

My goals in terms of how I planned to reach 50,000 words: I intended to write 2000 words a day, instead of the 1667 that NaNoWriMo recommends, so that I could either end five days early or take five days off.  As you can see, this went fantastically the first week, floundered the second week (due to a death in my husband's family and a sudden departure for Wisconsin), crashed in the third week (thanks to my totally-worth-it Harry Potter party), struggled in the fourth week (due to frustration and loss of interest) and somehow revived itself in the final two days, during which I wrote a combined total of over 7000 words.

So what have I learned?  Discipline, definitely.  I never used to be able to write more than 1000 words in a day (or several days really) and during last month, I once hit 4200 words in a day.  It turns out that a mental lightbulb and a soy chai latte really can work wonders.  I also learned that without that mental lightbulb, your effed and maybe should just take a break (which I could not due because I had a deadline and thus drove myself crazy).  Maybe most importantly, I learned how to push a story forward.  All of the extant stories in my collections are around 2000 words, which is quite short.  The new stories are pushing 7000.  They probably won't stay quite so long (one of them is, admittedly, stuffed with wordcount-extending fluff) but they will still be significantly longer than their predecessors and probably have more significance.  I now intend to go back and see if I can push those earlier stories and see what comes out.  One will remain short, I know that.  The others I think have the potential for a bit more.

All in all, I think that NaNoWriMo was really a valuable exercise in my growth as a writer.  It forced me to take risks, some of which flopped, and to push myself.  I don't know if I will do it again, but I'm glad that I did it this once.

What were everybody else's experiences?  I'd love to hear about them!

Can I have my t-shirt now?  I want to look happy and cocky just like these people:


  1. What an absolutely fantastic job! I wanted to sign up for this year, but I was a tad intimidated -- I need to put that to the side and just try it next year. If only just for the t-shirt, too! :)

    And for the record, I appreciate the usage of the words "freaking awesome" every now and again, so your post yesterday was just perfect!

  2. Charles Dickens was a huge fan of word count extending fluff. If it worked for Dickens...