Saturday, December 03, 2011

Lessons from NaNoWriMo 2011

"Never underestimate the strength of a woman. Never mess with one who runs 13.1 miles just for fun." - Judi Welsh

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2011 is history. As I wrote last month, I chose to write a novel instead of memoir. It wasn't my first novel, but it was the most difficult NaNoWriMo of the five I've done. I did no planning and I fought for the story every word of the way. In doing so, I learned a few things:

1. Plotting isn't all bad: I'm a professed panster and yet, plotless this month, I was at my wits' end to make the story move forward. While I didn't consciously plan any of my previous books, I've always known where each was headed and I knew a few things that would (or did) happen along the way. Going in completely cold was terrifying and threatened to derail me.

2. I am not easily derailed: I did not give up even though I hated the story for almost the entire month and felt like I was wasting my time.

And, most importantly, 3. I was not wasting my time: I know this because I fell back in love with writing. Somewhere in the last year, I'd lost the passion. Writing had become a chore I'd considered giving up. Some of that I attribute to depression, but some of it was just the reality of being a writer. Writing, much like any other work, without passion is drudgery. But this month, doing NaNoWriMo, despite feeling lost and frustrated most of the month, I rediscovered the joy of putting words on the page all the while knowing they were in the wrong order or, more likely, weren't the right words at all. And that was worth much more than 30 days of agony.

I'll leave you with my own version of Judi's quote:

"Never underestimate the strength of a writer. Never mess with one who writes 50,000 words in 30 days just because she can!"