Well hello faithful reader! We meet again.
I am not dead. Nor have I fallen into insanity, although some of you may have expected it. I have survived and won NaNoWriMo, successfully completing 50,000 words in 30 days. And here is my badge to prove it:
I am proud to join the ranks of NaNo winners. It was not easy, especially since I had several roadblocks and ended up significantly behind by the beginning of the second week. November became a banner month for me – I began the month by finishing and sending out King’s Mark to beta readers and ended it with 50,000 words and a submission to the Fairwood Writer’s Workshop that I am fairly pleased with. I am exhausted, but in a good way… it is amazing how energizing that level of work can be. It reminds me of busy summer shifts at work, where I hardly notice 8 hours have passed because every moment has been completely filled. You can’t keep up the pace forever, but thankfully summer turns into winter and November comes but once a year.
It was not as difficult as I expected to pull 1667 words daily; in fact, I found that I can easily manage 2000 words in about 90 minutes of writing time. Considering my pace previous to November was about 3000 words a week, this amazes me.
However, I don’t think that writing NaNo-style is a good fit for me. About 45,000 of my 50,000 words are useless without being completely rewritten. So I will keep my NaNo novel, in case someday I have the desire to put in the incredible amount of work it needs. But until that day it will live in the deepest, darkest corner of my computer.
Rewriting is necessary for all successful books, I’m not exempt from that. I cannot create a perfect first draft, or even second draft. Nor should I try to, lest I suck all the creativity out of my work. But while writing this month I indulged in all of my worst habits just to make word count – excessive exposition, navel-gazing, repetition, and interminable internal monologues. Maybe it is my training as a musician, and a dancer before that, but I believe that when you are practicing something, you should strive for it to be the best you can make it. Practicing something “wrong” will only ingrain it deeper and deeper into your mind and your habits. I believe in striving for quality in each stage of production, and that isn’t what NaNo is about.
But it was not a waste of time. Not at all. I discovered the ability to write in greater quantity, to write daily (or almost daily). I proved that I can start another project, that I’m not out of ideas. And I confirmed that I am a discovery writer, and I shouldn’t panic about these things.
Most importantly, I actually managed to turn off my internal editor while I was writing. One of my defining personality traits is the drive to continually improve, to never accept the status quo, to never give in and say “good enough.” This can be a good thing – it is what drives me to problem solve, to think rationally and creatively, to seek and absorb knowledge that might help me along the way. I like this about myself; but like all traits, it brings its own challenges as well. Perfection can never be obtained, which means constantly striving for it can either set you up for failure or paralyze you. You might look at the daunting road to perfection and be overwhelmed, curled in a corner trying not to look at it. Or you can trap yourself in a cycle where you are never satisfied, never at peace, unable to feel good about your past accomplishments because you are already looking to your next challenge. I must constantly struggle to maintain a balance so I don’t fall into these traps, and I frequently fail to do this (note the perfectionism in that sentence… lol, I’m hopeless).
NaNo was a step in a positive direction. I was able to just write, to be happy about writing, and I did surprisingly little agonizing over what I was writing. Sure, I didn’t end up with much useable material, but I remembered what it is like to write for the sake of writing, to make up a story to see how it ends. And maybe I’ll read it in a year or two and realize that I’m being to hard on it, and it is really a best seller in disguise. Although I doubt it, I’ll give myself the leeway to leave that option open for now. Will I do NaNo again next year? Possibly, possibly not. I like taking my time while writing, I find it more rewarding and I like the results better, but maybe I will need a diversion to throw my inner editor off the trail for a month. We shall see.
So, when all is said and done, I officially label this experiment a SUCCESS!