NaNoWriMo, wrap-up post

I’m getting the itch to write again, which is a good sign. A week and a half of nothing but Internet and email for writing, after a crazy month of having my head very much into the creative mode, is pretty good for “bouncing back.”

Ben’s having a birthday party tomorrow, so that has consumed some days of brain power, determining what preparation needed to be done and when it could be fit into the schedule. That doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about what to write next, and I hope it means there’s something creative happening in the back corners of my mind!

I did want to touch on lessons learned this time around, so let’s have a look at that before I dive into what will hopefully turn out to be a fun kids’ Christmas story. (The perfect type of story to write when NaNoWriMo ends and Christmas approaches!)

First up, don’t panic. There will be days when you don’t meet the minimum word count, or the one you set for yourself. I actually had one day of NaNo 2014 that only included 300 words. Ugh. But I know from previous years that I can make that up with some productive days. As long as I don’t set the bar too low, I really can overcome a slow start to the month or busy days where my writing time is edged out for various reasons.

Next, your original idea for a novel may not come out in the first draft to span 50,000 words. Or even 25,000… Last year I ended up with three separate first drafts (though connected with characters in the same family or group of friends) and the same occurred this time. I’m not beating myself up about it, though, because I’ve got my own spin for such an occurrence: I’ve written a trilogy rather than a single story. Sure, each story needs a lot of work, but when does a NaNo novel not need editing, rewriting and probably thousands upon thousands more words to fill out the tale? And maybe down the road I’ll find I’m a writer of novellas, not full novels. If that happens, you can bet I’ll have another Pollyanna take on it. 😉

I don’t know if this is just for 2014, or for always, but I also found I wrote better during the day. I was fortunate to carve out an hour and sometimes more after the kids went to bed, put on music and just write until I hit at least my desired word count, but it was usually hard to get in the groove. Nighttime writing often equalled tough writing! When I had enough time during the day, I enjoyed the writing process much more and the words came easier. I already know I have more energy and motivation in the morning (provided I’ve had enough sleep) so this isn’t a huge surprise to me, and I’ll try to schedule writing time next year for daytime hours if that’s possible.

Lastly, use any means possible to write. I would sometimes start an email to myself – gotta love secondary addresses for memos to oneself – and the contents would be snatches of dialogue or new ideas. (By the way, I count all output for the writing challenge, whether it’s a full “scene” with dialogue and narrative, just dialogue, plotting notes, character sketches, etc. It’s writing time, so it counts!) These short emails added up some days to a decent start to my writing day and made it possible for me to make use of time with a baby awake and actively exploring the house or even time away from home. It was like carrying a writing notebook with me all the time and stealing minutes to jot something down. Just one more reason to love my smartphone!

So, successful NaNoWriMo experience once again, and more writing lessons learned. This is the real reason I keep coming back to NaNoWriMo – it isn’t the bragging rights or the NaNo merchandise, it’s the opportunity to become a better writer.

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