NaNoWriMo: A Winner is Me … sort of…

In the aftermath of my first NaNoWriMo, I’ve come to one very important conclusion:

I hate NaNoWriMo.

Okay, that’s not fair. I like the concept. Anything that inspires writers to write and to get those ideas they’ve had locked away in their minds or on scraps of paper under their beds out into the open is a good thing, but I’m not a fan of the format and the pressure. I actually work well with deadlines, but the deadline of 50k furious words in 30 days? No thanks.

I’ve become a creature of carrots on sticks that would make Pavlov proud. I love the ding of trophies in video games, even though I don’t go too far out of my way to achieve them. I am mad at GetGlue for taking away our physical stickers. And I like when Amazon pats me on the head with gift certificates in exchange for my book purchases. But when it comes to writing – I mean seriously writing – I was not happy with myself for the compulsion I felt to adhere to NaNo’s 1667 word per day criteria.

Believe it or not, I did “win” NaNo, coming in at almost 54k words. But I did not enjoy the process. The end result is a complete first draft of a story that’s been sitting around for a decade, but now it’s a gone from an outline I loved to a draft that I’m not so fond of.

My NaNo novel actually comes in at 37k words completed, but toward the end of the month as the process really started to drag me down and make me want to quit, I refocused my efforts on a separate writing project that has a much later deadline, that I could write at my leisure, in the way I want to write. Writing without editing, just pouring out ideas, even when the ideas might not be working, is how NaNo kind of works, but that’s not how I work. I don’t like mindspilling a solid scene in a story unless the idea already makes me happy. I don’t like writing just for the sake of writing. And good gods do I love editing my own work.

Consequently, with this second project, I was able to top up the NaNo count and that story is now sitting at 40k words and counting – and I’m happy with all the words currently hanging out in Scrivener, unlike my actual NaNo novel which I’ve decided smells funny. It’s not going back under the bed though. Though it is in serious need of editing, this novel is one step closer to its birth and I’m not going to let that go now that I’ve gotten this far.

Still NaNoWriMo was an interesting experience and I’m pleased with myself for finding a way to finish it even though I wanted to quit. I learned many things about my writing self. But if I do NaNo again next year, I will most likely augment it to suit my personal writing style to ensure that the experience isn’t a pleasant, reasonably stress free one.

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