NaNoWriMo: Wrap Up!

What I learned attempting to write 50,000 words in 30 days …

  • Characters make a story – this was the biggest lesson I learned this fall: Characters make a plot and plot makes a story (not the other way around). I had, what I thought, was a great IDEA for a story but  quickly realized (at around 10,000 words) that I didn’t like any of my characters. They were flat and boring and didn’t really care about anything – they had no personality (which also made their dialogue painful). As I began to work out my characters and who they were, I slowly began to see a glow of embers that (Lord willing) may eventually catch and light into a story someday.
  • Keep writing even when it’s hard – like most things in life, the hard choices are the most rewarding. Similarly, during NaNoWriMo, the days that I sat down and wrote when the LAST thing I wanted to do was sit down and write, usually turned out the most pleasant and unexpected fruit.
  • Outlines are good – we all hated them in high school and dreaded the teacher who was actually going to collect our outlines & first drafts, but this seriously saved my life during NaNoWriMo. If I hadn’t mapped out my story as much as I did I probably would have quit in discouragement after the first week. The outline made me feel purposeful and even if I had a bad day I knew where I could go tomorrow. The one downside was I relied too heavily on my outline at the beginning and ended up with lifeless and uninspiring characters (see bullet #1) who were just trudging through the events of my outline! 😉 Oh well, lesson learned.
  • Setting the mood is key – I found quickly that setting the “mood” for a writing session was key to my success for that day (1600 words/day). I discovered that night time was best for me (I can’t even have a conversation in the morning, let alone string together coherent prose) and surprisingly, a somewhat crowded and lively coffee shop was the most stimulating. Typically, if I’m reading I like absolute quiet to concentrate but it seemed like my story-telling mind found inspiration in the conversations, clothing, music, and people-watching in a comfy coffee house.

It was a thrilling adventure to take part in and even though I only made it to 30,000 words I really love how my story is beginning to emerge. I plan to take a month this year (not sure which yet) and devote it to finishing my word count and then take another month (again, we shall see how pregnancy #2 moves along) to revise/edit/update/etc. I have had so many brainstorms/new ideas/dialogues running through my head since I took my little hiatus back around Thanksgiving (thank to baby #2 & queasy all-day sickness) and I’m really looking forward to picking it up again soon!

If you are curious about National Novel Writing Month for 2012 check out their website here!

4 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: Wrap Up!

  1. I’ve thought about taking part in NaNo for the last couple of years. I would need to have some sort of outline even if i decided to ignore it when into the writing. I would prefer to have some idea about the characters as well. I like them to live inside my head for a while so we can get acquainted before I let them tell me their story.

    Congratulations on reaching 30,000 words and best of luck with the rest of the project.

    • Thanks for reading! I would definitely recommend NaNo – it was really fun & I learned a lot…I would also recommend having a writing buddy…it’s nice to have some moral support & you can make short term writing goals with each other. Best of luck!

  2. Hi, Lindsey! I’m really proud of you for taking this on. So nice to see you learned so much. If you ever want me to read over your story, I’d be happy to. Say, maybe someday we can trade off and help each other with our writing endeavors! Love you!

    • Thanks Aunt Toni 🙂 Yes – when I decide what month I want to pick up my story again maybe we could have a couple writing dates together & you could bring something you’re working on too! I would love to have your feedback & it’s always more fun to write with someone else.

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