After my third Nanowrimo, sage that I now am, here are a few things I have learned:
1) Every Nano-novel is different
I experienced writing this novel much differently than the previous two nano-novels. This novel took it’s own shape, writing itself into a different story despite my attempts to push it in another direction. I resisted this at first because I had my own ideas about how I wanted the novel to turn out, who I wanted the characters to be, but eventually I let it break out of the tight mold I had made for it. Although far from perfect, the story and characters are much more compelling as a result.
2) 1k words is pocket change after writing 8k words in a day
My advice to anyone jumping into Nanowrimo, whether for the first time, or as a veteran, is to blast through as much word count as possible in the first day or first weekend. Once you’ve pumped out 8,000 words in a day (as I was forced to in order to crawl my way out of the word count hole I’d dug for myself), 1,000 words in a day seems like a minor slog.
This may not be true for everyone, but for me, I am lost without proper preparation. This means at least a rough outline, character backstory and a vague idea of what I’m trying to accomplish with the story. With my first nanonovel, I had an outline that was detailed down to each scene, and with my second, I even made a map of the new world I was intending to create through my novel. With my third novel, I had nothing. An extremely vague idea of how I wanted the story to start and the characters names was all that I armed myself with. I succeeded in writing the story, and a better one than I had originally intended, but the going was hard and grueling. I enjoy Nanowrimo, look forward to it even, but I dreaded sitting down to write this November.
4) Stick with it even when its crap
This goes back to my first point. When I began this year’s nano-novel, I was in a state of despair. Who were these characters? Where was this story going? Why was I even bothering? Then, during one dismal writing session, I let the story break in my hands and spin off in a different direction. From that point forward, I gained momentum and wrote something which I am proud of. If I had given up during that first few weeks when I really had no clue where the story was going and couldn’t stand my characters, the real story would have stayed buried forever.
5) Write everywhere
Since I was so dismally low on word count during the entire month this Nanowrimo, I tried to make every free moment a Nanowrimo moment. This meant I needed to do away with my previous conventions for only writing at my desk, in my quiet office, on Scrivener. This year, I wrote in “the cloud” so I could steal moments at work, in waiting rooms, outside, even under the table on my phone while others where chowing down on turkey at Thanksgiving.
Time to start preparing for Nanowrimo #4…