NaNoWriMo 2014: A Recap

NaNoWriMo conveniently sent me a list of questions to answer now that NaNo is over, and as they make for an excellent recap, I’m just going to “stick to the script” if you will.

  1. What are you most proud of achieving this month?
  2. What did you learn about yourself as a writer?
  3. What excites you about this draft of your NaNo-novel?

Also, today is Project for Awesome, and there are several great videos out for NaNoWriMo. If you’ve got two seconds and you like NaNo, go vote for them. My favorite video is the one below. I often forget that NaNoWriMo does a lot more than host the November challenge, so if you want to learn more about what else they do, watch this video!

“NaNoWriMo is about so much more than just writing a novel; NaNoWriMo is about becoming a creator. It’s about being told that you can make something that’s worthwhile, because the people who feel like they are capable of creating things are often the people who go on to change the world.” And then she shares stories written for NaNoWriMo by elementary school students. They’re awesome.

Vote for this video for Project for Awesome!

 

Most Proud Of

Winning is the most honest answer to this question, but since I already wrote about that, I’m most nano2014-novelistatwork-doorhangerproud of how I won it. I attacked the last weekend of NaNo, which I went into with 33K words, and came out of as a winner, with 50K. Yes, somehow, I wrote 17K in three days. And I did it post-vacation in a jet-lagged state, both while taking a cross-country red-eye and being sick with a nasty cold. I’m not saying that I recommend this strategy (I’m just now…two weeks later…feeling sort of better. Whoops?) but I’m proud that I refused to quit.

Why did this last-minute resolve come over me? Well, for one, I have always been motivated by deadlines, and I tend to do my best (or at least fastest) work when they’re hovering over me.

But I also think it might have had something to do with ordering the winner’s t-shirt early in the month and coming home from vacation to that package, realizing that I couldn’t walk around with a shirt that said “winner” only to have to explain to people that it was a lie. It sounds like a silly way to motivate yourself, but it worked.

Also, this blog and the lovely community of fellow writers and Wrimos I’ve met via writing here helped keep me going. So many of you were doing so well, and I wanted to be part of that!

What I Learned

I learned quite a few things, a few of which I’ll detail in some longer posts. The most important thing I learned was how to write my story chronologically. This has been a challenge for me in the past, and so far everything I’ve written has jumped all over the place. While I don’t disparage writing out of order, I wanted to at least be able to write sequentially if I desired. And I did. It took some concentration, as well as writing some scenes that will need heavy revision later, but I’m glad I gave it a shot.

Another thing that I learned is that I’ve grown much more aware of the flaws in my writing. This is both good and bad, as it’s helpful to know which parts will need more revision than others, and to be able to make notes for revision as I go. However, if I had let it overwhelm me, I’m sure I wouldn’t have won NaNo. There were a few days last month when I didn’t like my story very much, mostly because I thought my writing was bad, but I kept telling myself I wouldn’t judge it until it had been through a good revision (and not until it sits on my computer, untouched, for a few more weeks). I feel better about it already, even two weeks removed, so we’ll see what happens after it gets some thorough edits.

Exciting Parts of the Draft

One or two “Eureka!” moments emerged while writing — probably one of the best was when I figured out exactly how the main crisis of the story worked, which propelled the rest of the story forward and gave me a conflict that was legitimate. It also made writing the ending relatively straightforward, as I had a major problem that needed to be solved.

I focused more on family dynamics in this story than I have previously, and I think that focus lended itself to both humorous and sinister scenes that feel very real to me. I think that as almost all of us have some kind of family, and we know both how rewarding and how irritating those relationships can be, it’s a theme that feels relatable to almost anyone.

My other favorite part of the story is that it’s all told from the point of view of the male protagonist, but the female lead is fiesty and independent, and watching the protagonist process her actions as a nearly anti-social character was very entertaining for me. I’ll hope that shows through to readers, too, and that they can sense how much fun I had writing it.

Tell me your highlights from NaNoWriMo. I’d love to hear what you’re most proud of, excited about, or what you learned!

 

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