Well, I didn't quite make my 50,000 words, but I did pretty well. This was my first time doing NaNoWriMo (say that fast five times!). I've never quite understood the hype. You write 50,000 in the month of November. This would have been impossible had I still been working (oh, retirement, how I love thee), but in order to write that much every day, you have to speed through your chapters, and I don't really write like that. I tend to go back and try to grab inspiration or a potential plot point from what I've written before. But I decided to give it a whirl. My thoughts:
- I think it's possible to do IF you have a good idea of what you want to write. I'm a seat-of-my-pants writer and this worked against me. I think that NaNoWriMo works best if you use the month of October to craft a brief outline for each chapter. By brief I mean, Maggie and Tommy have a boxing match. Nothing more than that. I started to do that by the middle of the month (of November, sigh), and my output increased.
- Words of wisdom to live by: If you are committed to hitting that 50,000 words/month goal, don't go back and massage previous chapters. I did this and I lost words. Having said that, I also feel that the tweaking I did helped me figure out what in the hell I was doing with the middle of the current book I'm writing.
- If you're writing a historical novel like I am, think about what you might like to include beforehand. The month of October is your friend. I didn't do this (partly because I didn't know what in the hell I was going to need in that stupid middle part of the book), and I lost time. But I also learned some cool stuff (like the Cow Hollow neighborhood in San Francisco is named that because the majority of the city's dairies were located there).
- For me, the most important aspect of NaNoWriMo is that writing every day and trying to reach a goal makes you feel like a writer. I mean this seriously. You are committed. You have goals, You're not fooling around. You are sitting your butt in that chair and the laundry can wait. You are focused on your writing and it's no excuses time. Even if you aren't working on a novel or a short story or anything, it's about working with words. I don't think you even need an end goal like I did, which was to finish the novel I was working on. I did finish it. YAY! But more importantly, I felt absurdly writerly as I was writing it.
And this might be the most important lesson of NaNoWriMo that you take away from this exercise. Not that these words are brilliant or wonderful or a potential contender for the Nobel Prize in literature, but it says to your psyche, you are a writer. Now write.