Saturday, November 30, 2013

The End Again: National Novel Writing Month

Last year I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I was a bit cynical. As I struggled through the process, I learned a lot about MY process and a lot about the gaps in my writing toolbox. I only achieved half the goal for the month, but I like to think that what I learned (and the sheer amount of outlining and brainstorming that happened) made up a little bit for the lack of words on the page.

The truth is, nothing can make up for words that don't make it onto the page. Every word written is better than a word unwritten, and last year, I barely cleared 25,000 words. (And of those words, most of them were backstory for the world in which I thought I was writing. They weren't even ABOUT my main character, though they had some historical significance.)

This year, I decided to try a different approach and it seems to have worked out for me, though it didn't work as planned. (It never goes as-planned.)

I decided I wanted to write some specific types of short stories and based on average length estimates, I projected I could churn out 5-7 stories during the month of November.

I just can't seem to follow the rules though. (Incidentally, I have similar trouble when game-mastering and trying to use a module. I just can't do it.)

I started out working on a story about half of a set of twins and a graduation party. I finished that piece on the fourth day. At that juncture, I wasn't sure where to go, so I fell back on a character that'd been wandering around in my brain for a while. I started writing about her encounters. I thought it might be good for a couple of the projected stories. Then it got away from me and I just kept writing. So, the first 8956 words were on one project, but the rest were on this one character and her world of experience.

There are still a LOT of things unwritten and the majority of them are purely the happenings in her personal life. While that may be compelling (or not), I feel like I need to observe her character arc and give her a story arc with which to interact. Or maybe not. I know for now I will keep writing. My "master document" tells me I have over 83k words, which includes a lot of notes and some outlining, while my solid word count - which does not include those outlines/notes - comes in at 55,372 words as of today. (Today was a small day, 522 words on an incomplete scene.)

Did you participate? Did you "win" (I still hate the win/lose dichotomy - if you learned something, if you produced something, you are winning at writing)?

Feel free to share your thoughts, your victories, your defeats. Or ask me questions about mine. I'm not a professional writer (using the definition of 'being published, making money at it'), but if I've learned anything from my time talking to writers, observing writers, and writing... it's that we are all on a journey together. It's not a destination, it is ALWAYS a journey... and everyone has something they can teach and learn.
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