This is my first Friday monthly post for Seriously Write, a website for both aspiring and experienced writers. To read this post there, click HERE.
Some of you have just come staggering out of NaNoWriMo. The past month is a haze. You now have a very rough draft, a family that is tired of eating pizza, and a house you were barely able to throw together for Thanksgiving and the Christmas season. Everyone is still grousing.
Happy holidays. Merry Christmas.
Writing a novel is a time to listen to the voices, disappear into your imaginary world, and become acquainted with your characters. But you’ve done this while running headlong into two sacred holidays that are weighted with the best pitches Madison Avenue can throw at us.
You’re feeling a bit schizophrenic, as if you really might have tipped over into the crazy novelist stereotype. Your teenage daughter still isn’t speaking to you because you were novel-distracted as she spilled her heart to you mid-draft. You hope your husband can find it in his heart to forgive you and that your younger children didn’t suffer too much emotional damage. You had to meet that word count.
How did you get into this mess? Where did all the craziness begin?
The history of NaNoWriMo: CLICK HERE
National Novel Writing Month was started in San Francisco in 1999 for these reasons: “We wanted to write novels for the same dumb reasons twenty-somethings start bands. Because we wanted to make noise. Because we didn’t have anything better to do. And because we thought that, as novelists, we would have an easier time getting dates than we did as non-novelists.”
If you’re not a single twenty-something trolling for dates, you’re writing with purpose and God’s leading, and you do have something better to do in November, you may find NaNoWriMo doesn’t work for you.
Personally, I can’t think of a worse time of year to draft a novel. I’m glad I didn’t know about NaNoWriMo when I was first learning my process. By the time I did hear of it, I knew it wouldn’t work for me.
But, what about you?
If you participated, and it was a disaster that causes you to rue the day you ever heard of NaNoWriMo, take heart.
Likewise, if you participated, and it gave you the kick in the pants you needed to finally write that story, take heart.
Learning is part of becoming a successful writer. No matter the outcome, you have grown wiser. You can now write about that wisdom gained and utilize what you learned.
Writers are an independent breed. We must each find our own voice and discover the source of our writing mojo. We must each develop our own method. For some, writing is a mostly solitary, thoughtful activity completed at our own pace, not as part of a social movement. For others, writing in groups with a national focus is what we need to make it happen.
We must carefully consider our techniques. We must be purposeful. What works for one writer will not necessarily work for all, and maybe not even for that writer later in life.
Make your choices wisely. Learn from your mistakes.
As Christian writers, we attempt to write while cultivating thriving families, healthy marriages, and deepening walks with Christ. NaNoWriMo may or may not be the best way to accomplish those goals, or it might, depending on your process and who you are as a writer.
What do you think?
Did you participate? What did you learn? Will you do it again?
This is the third year I participated in NaNoWriMo. And the third time I surpassed 50,000 words in 30 days. (Actually, I have finished in 23 days or less every year, and this year I wrote 67,000 words in 20 days.)
But I’m a full-time writer, so it really just means no excuses. I have to sit down and write until I meet the daily word count.
The first year I did it, it was something different. It was a recently “I quit my job to write full-time” me proving that I could write at a professional pace. And I can. And I do. Five days per week.
Woohoo! Congratulations! Pounding out a rough draft is a major accomplishment. You, my friend, are a pro! That’s how I like to hammer out my novels, too – full draft done in a month. I’d be the perfect fit for #NaNoWriMo, if only it didn’t fall in November! My drafting time is January – May. Bring it on! I hope your editing and refining are productive. Out of curiosity, what are your favorite writing tools, programs, or books?