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Monday, November 30, 2009

What I learned from NaNoWriMo this year

**edited to add totals and NaNo button**

Sooo... it's over now. I'm officially at 59,932 words. The book I'm working on needs to be 80,000 words so I still have some work to do. Actually I have a lot to do.

As I just mentioned to my CP, this is absolutely the sloppiest first draft I've ever written. She offered to help me on the places I'm stuck, and I'm too embarrassed to show it to her. That's how bad it is.

Last year, my NaNo book was a book God challenged me to write because it was something I was afraid to write. This year, I'm not so sure what it is. Maybe it's to learn about accepting my imperfections and just going with the flow. I thought I did that okay, but wow... talk about your writing crap.

So far, here's what I learned from this year's experience:

1. My writing process is yet again evolving. I am a serious pantser. Usually, starting a new book from scratch at the beginning of a month is not a problem for me. However, my last book, I used a lot of the prewriting techniques from the book From the Inside Out by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. I learned a lot from that process and found that I was more confident writing it. On my NaNo book, I did not do any prewriting. I found that this was the hardest book I've ever written, mostly because I didn't know a lot about my characters and story. I realized that while I still don't feel like my process involves a lot of pre-plotting, I do need to take time beforehand to figure out my characters, their goals, and their motivations.

2. Save, save, save!! I lost somewhere between 20-30 pages because my computer crashed and I hadn't saved my work. I'd been relying on autosave, and I could not recover what had been lost.

3. Friends make the work go quicker (and more fun!). I got together for writing days with friends on a couple of occasions, and my word count on those days was higher than any other day. Part of it was the inspiration of having other creative folks with tapping keys around me, and part of it was the accountability. I knew that I couldn't slack off and mess around when we were together.

4. I LOVE my alphasmart!! I've also learned how easily distracted I am. When I'm working on my alphasmart, I can't obsessively check my email, play on Facebook, surf the web for "research," see what everyone is doing on Twitter, and check on work stuff that I just checked on ten minutes ago.

5. I work better on a schedule. My most successful writing days happened when I had a schedule for myself. When I set certain hours for working, certain hours for writing, certain hours for family, etc. and forced myself to stop when time was up and move on to the next task, I got a lot more done on all tasks. Though I am good at multitasking, my best work comes from focus.

Given these lessons, I feel like I've got a lot of things I can use moving forward. And even though my book is crappy and not even close to being done yet, I do feel like I've got a good framework. My goal is to have it finished by the end of the year.

For those who did NaNo this year... what did you learn from it?

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