National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, is when many insane, wacked-out people challenge themselves to write a 50,000 word rough draft novel during the thirty days of November. And I’m proud to be one of them! In fact, anyone who stepped up and took on this crazy challenge wins.
Here is what I learned.
As someone who writes a lot of flash fiction, I learned how to put more details into my stories, how to expand on a concept and let it take me farther than I normally do when writing short fiction.
Since I ran out of time before November, I began the month with an incomplete outline. I learned that by outlining slightly ahead of my story, I allow myself to expand on the ideas currently running amok in my brain.
By planning my story as a series of short flashes, I learned how to pace myself. Each small flash needed to contain all the elements of a complete story, even though that story was connected to the larger plot. And by thinking of each story as part of that larger plot, I was able to plan ahead.
I learned how energizing it can be to be among other people who are doing the same thing at the same time, how they can cheer you on, support you, and encourage you to follow your creativity wherever it may lead. I learned how wonderful and generous those people can be.
I learned that I CAN complete a large project like writing 50,000 words in 30 days, a complete rough draft with a beginning, middle, and end – especially when I’m part of a larger community like my local writers’ group.
Over the next year, I plan to serialize my novel by posting edited weekly installments on my blog. I plan to participate in #TuesdaySerial as well as #FridayFlash, and hopefully by the end of the 2013 it will be ready for submission to an agent or a market. If not, I’ll keep working on it until I feel it’s complete.
I’ve learned to grow in my craft, and I feel better about this rough draft than any of my other first drafts. Don’t get me wrong. It needs work. However, I wrote the novel with future edits in mind, so I’m confident that over the next year, editing will go more smoothly for me than ever before. I’ll learn from my mistakes, improve on my strengths, and be a better writer.
NaNoWriMo is a month long creative writing course. It comes complete with a wealth of support in the form of forums, a website full of pep talks and tutorials, and a community willing to support the writers – all free of charge. The most frequently heard piece of writing advice offered to new writers by experienced authors is to just write. National Novel Writing Month encourages you to do just that, and you can’t put a price on the experience and lessons learned by every participant.