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!"

13 comments:

JRoberts said...

I love the title of your blog! I will also do NaNoWriMo next year. I'd love to get some of my students in on the joy ride, too:)

Anonymous said...

Great post, Nita! The last time I did Nano I was pretty down on myself for what I wrote, but your post makes me realize that's okay too. This year I spent Nov revising instead of a new novel. However, the food prep ahead helped me to stay on track with it. With all your running, I'm very impressed with your Nano win!

claudine

Nita said...

@JRoberts - That would be fabulous for you and your students to do it. There are special packages for teachers.

@Claudine - Thanks! I'm trying to learn balance. HA! You had some great success using the NaNo structure this month. Congrats!

thelittlerunningbohemian said...

Great post!!!! Great quote too!

Nita said...

Thanks @thelittlerunningbohemian! Great username!

Richard Basile said...

Never mess with a woman who runs 6.2 miles in a polyester cheerleader outfit. Great post, Nita!

Nita said...

Thanks, Richard! And I completely agree! Judi is a force to be reckoned with!

B. WHITTINGTON said...

It's all about pushing the pen across the paper or getting the words down on the computer.
Once we start we forget why we hated to write. It's not writing that makes us hate it and once writing that all falls away.
So happy to know you battled through to the joy part.
Blessings, Barb
Thanks for sharing.

Nita said...

Barb - You are right on target! Pushing through it was!

Faith Van Horne said...

I ended up at just over 50% of the target, but I consider it a success. This is the first year I wrote throughout the month, and the most words I've gotten. Plus, I'm excited by the idea of a Tuesday writing cabal.

Nita said...

Good work, Faith! Tuesday write-ins were really helpful to me. Looking forward to more of the same.

jonyangorg said...

I did Nano this year too, and haven't written a word since the end of November. I can't figure out if this is supposed to be the after effect. (Thanks for signing up for 50/50!)

Nita said...

@jonyangorg - I'm a binge writer so NaNo works well for me as a way to blast out some first draft stuff. After that rush of activity, I need a break. Revision is an entirely different animal from that first drafting business. I always let the draft sit for awhile and then I print it out, take it to a coffeehouse, and read it as if it were someone else's work. I have to have distance to revise. Good luck!