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!