Thursday, December 1, 2011
5 Things I Learned on the Way to the NaNoWriMo Winner's Circle
Wow, what a month of literary abandon! I started strong, staying in track the whole first week. Then day job, parenting, Thanksgiving, and oh yeah - launching my first novel! - slowed me down. WAY down! But the NaNoWriMo pep talks got me back to the novel and then I started hearing from people who had read Emily's House, and they asked "When's the next one coming out?" That really fired me up and pushed me to the 50,000 word mark. Procrastination meant I had to write 15,000 in the last three days (I don't recommend this).
SO, here are the (top) five things I learned on my way to the NaNoWriMo Winner's Circle:
5. It is best NOT to fuel your month of literary abandon with Halloween candy and Thanksgiving leftovers.
I gained five pounds along with my 50,000 word manuscript!
4. I CAN write everyday. I won't feel the muse welling up from my soul every day. Some days, the muse has closed up shop and refuses to open, not for all the chocolate in the world. But NaNoWriMo teaches you to write anyway. And sometimes, unexpectedly, the muse decides to peek her head out and join the party. (But truthfully somedays that muse wench won't come out to play and it's just you at the computer by yourself with your Hershey's bar, staring at a blank screen or typing gibberish.)
3. It's not wise to cram 30% of the challenge into the last three days and writing for 10 hours in a single day isn't a lot of fun.
2. Writing is more fun with a community of friends urging you on. When you join the NaNoWriMo challenge, you have the great folks at the Office of Letters and Light there to support you with funny, amusing and effective pep talks. I especially enjoyed the pep talk from author Erin Morgenstern. Her bestselling novel (and a wonderfully imaginative read - I love it!), The Night Circus, was born during the month of November, several years ago, in Erin's NaNoWriMo months of literary abandon. What an inspiration!
And then there were the tweets and the posts and the applause and the "you can do its" from fellow Wrimos, all working toward the same goal. We held each other accountable and shared sentences and ups and downs (and virtual glasses of wine and chocolate and coffee - writer fuels). I wrote my first draft of my first two novels just about completely alone in the process. And that wasn't all bad. But it wasn't nearly so much fun as being in a community of folks all working toward the same goal and speaking the same language.
1. If you stick with it, you have given yourself a wonderful gift: a newly minted, messy, wonderful, surprising manuscript, beckoning you to dig in and mold it and shape it and play with it until it's a thing of beauty - a Novel.
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