Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thoughts on #NaNoWriMo #amwriting

The first time I saw the term "NaNoWriMo", I thought...what the heck kind of word is that?  Then, much later, when I found out what it meant, I was stunned.  Write a novel in a month?  What?

Warning:  Do Not Put
Beverages Directly on Keyboard
It takes me--minimum--nine months to write a full length novel.  I can't imagine trying to finish one in 30 days!  And 50,000 words is A LOT!  Plus, November, to me, seems an odd month to attempt such a lofty goal.  For many people, it's the start of the busy holiday season.  For me, personally, it's the start of the holiday season PLUS the lead off to consecutive months of every birthday celebration in my little family of four: one in November, one in December, and two in January.  Not to mention two extended family birthdays and one anniversary.

But the idea, I've now come to realize, is to promote inspiration and motivation.  And accountability, if a participant chooses to register their work at the official website.  The philosophy is "quantity over quality", and this is a great way for people to get started.  Writers write.

I'm not sure that approach would work for me at this point, as I now tend to be a perfectionist as I write.  A full-length novel at my publishing house is 65,000-100,000 words.  Usually, when I've finished the last sentence in a manuscript, I'm already somewhere in that range.  From there, the editing process only involves small details or little pockets of research.  It's just the way I write these days.  I make Goal/Motivation/Conflict charts in advance, as well as pages of character back-stories, lists of reveals, hints leading up to reveals, facts from research, etc., etc.

But that certainly isn't how I started.  I had an outline for SILVER LAKE in my head when I began, with some fairly significant character development as well, thanks to years of thinking about the story.  But no charts or schedules.  I began writing in a notebook, on an 8-hour car ride. It took me 2 1/2 years to finish the first draft, and there were months when I didn't write a word. Of course, I was absolutely thrilled when I reached the end, but even when I polished it up, it clocked in somewhere in the neighborhood of 135,000 words.

Seeing the cover art
for the first time was
an incredible feeling!
Way too many for a first novel.  And there are good reasons for novel was a perfect example.  Thankfully, the editor who received my submission liked the story idea enough to give me some pointers.  I took her advice to heart and rewrote...not once, but three times.  The end result was a tightly-paced 78,000 word novel that I sold to a publisher.  That was my dream come true, and the reason I achieved it was because I pushed myself to start the novel on that car ride in April of 2008.  Then,  I persevered after the initial rejections because I had the basic bones there...I was even told not to change the second half at all.

My understanding of NaNoWriMo is that the novel begun on November 1st must not be a work-in-progress.  So that counts me out, since I have something I'm working on (see HAUNTED SOULS Pinterest Board). That has to come first, even thought I'd love to be part of the NaNoWriMo camaraderie I see playing out online everyday.  

October is a busy month
for authors of paranormal -
but I enjoyed all the events!
I have decided to tap into the spirit of the challenge, though.  My latest novel released in July, and that was my third in three years.  I was exhausted.  Promotion and marketing take a lot of my time, and then there's my other job and of course my family.  I couldn't bring myself to continue work on my fourth manuscript, the one I was 22,000 words into when DIVINE FALL released.

So on November 1st, I committed to writing something every day.  No word goals.  Just work on the manuscript, at least once a day.  And you know what happened?  The words just began tumbling out.  My characters took control.  I found myself once again submerged in the twisting plot lines of a reunion romance and a spooky ghost story.

Six days later, I'm at 31,500 words.  A gain of close to 10,000!  I know it doesn't count, in terms of the NaNoWriMo rules.  But for me, it's been an exhilarating achievement.  I'm going to keep going.  So the moral of the story is...just write.


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience with NaNoWriMo. I find it recharging, too...and like you, I often use the month form my own "version" of NaNo, working on a WIP or setting some other type of goal. This is the first year in a while when I'm actually working on something new. It's exciting, and has sparked lots of great insights! Amazing what committing to daily writing time will do :)

  2. Hi Cheryl! Totally agree, there's something about the daily writing that gives us momentum. Good luck with your new project!