Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Things I learned from NaNoWriMo 2013

I won my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). My "official count" was something like 50,004, so basically, I limped across the finish line and fainted in the middle of the road.

But I did it.

Here's what I learned.

1. I can do it. You *CAN* do it. Really. If *I* can do it, anyone can do it. You just need the proper motivation. You need to figure that out for yourself.
2. It doesn't have to consume your life for the month. My strategy was to get up at 5:30, make coffee, and pound out between 1000 and 1500 words. Somedays I had time to do more later in the day. A couple of times, I sprinted and put out 3000 or more.
3. It's okay if the words are crappy.
4. It's okay if the POV changes tense.
5. It's okay if some of the words are backstory or your characters "talking" to you.
6. If you get stuck, walk away. Call a friend, go for a walk. Ask your characters what they want. Ask them what they need from you.
7. Did I mention, it's okay if the words are crappy?

I once heard Cynthia Leitich Smith speak at a conference. One highlight I remember very clearly is hearing her talk about her first draft. She writes the first draft and then hits delete. HITS DELETE. There was an audible inhale of breath from the crowd as we all imagined hitting delete.

But here's the thing, I get it now.

Don't panic, I'm not going to delete my NaNo book, but I am going to rewrite the whole thing. There's not one thing that won't get revised/rewritten. I understand what Cynthia was talking about now. This is the warm up. This is the clay from which I will sculpt. This is *not* the book. This is the crappy first draft.

And I love it. I'm *never* not writing a book this way. It was brilliant. I love fast drafting. It took me four years to write a passable first draft of my first novel. And then the revision started. It took me one month to write this first draft. I'm much less attached to the crappy words. Much more willing to make the hard choices and hard changes that revision requires.

Because revision *does* require hard choices. Now, I'm going back to the revision cave. How did you all do at NaNo this year?


Marci Lyn Curtis said...

You rock, Kris! Next year I'm racing ya ;)

Josh Funk said...

Congrats! It took three periods, but you won without needing overtime or a shoot out!