As NaNoWriMo draws to a close, I'm reflecting on the things I have learned this November - my first NaNoWriMo - and why I have actually reached an impressive word count when I have previously not managed more than 20k.
First off, there's one of the mantra of NaNo - write first, ask questions later. This is a concept I didn't fully understand before I put pen to paper. Surely it's good to check things out as you write? As it turns out, first you need to write the damn words. Write as much as you can, make it as good as you can on a first draft, but don't get hung up on it. It's a first draft, and draft is the operative word here. It is not going to be perfect.
That's one of the reasons I'm well on my way to winning. Another is the concept of a daily goal. I'm one of those writers who takes a very long time to write anything. I think my benchmark is around 1,000 words per hour. So, I can't leave it until the last minute and write on November 29, because I'll either go mad or sleep deprived or both. Not a good scenario. NaNoWriMo helps by setting a daily goal of 1,667 words per day. It means you can't miss a day, but if you know something's gonna throw a spanner in the works, as it did on the 24th. Go on, check out my stats. Pretty good, huh? Mind, if there was something I couldn't foresee, I would have had to catch up, and that would have sucked. But that diagonal grey line sure helps put things into perspective.
The next most important thing I have learned is plot developments. It may sound self explanatory, but I really had no idea how to write them before NaNo. Since I have pantsed my novel this year, I have simply written whatever plot developments pop into my head, not what I have planned to happen. I have found that a plot is a complicated, crazy beast in which lots of little things lead to a glorious conclusion. As long as you keep in mind where you want your novel to go, those little plot developments will reach a point you are satisfied with. If they don't, just add another plot development.
This next one I already knew - the first part, at least. Writing is HARD, it really is. That's the bit I already knew, but there's a second part to this sentence I had yet to discover. Writing is hard, but all it takes is imagination and perseverance. I have discovered this month that I have those things in droves. One night I stayed up almost till midnight to get that little extra to reach par. I swear I have never written that fast in my life. I have been thinking all month how easy it would be to give up, and let the plot bunnies eat my novel. But that's not how it works. I must win, even if my novel turns into a raging uncontrollable beast.
One more thing: staying up late is a bad side effect of daily goals. I should by rights finish earlier, but the more pressure, the better I work. I'm a little undisciplined that way.
Less than 10k to go! I'll see you at the finish.