NaNo Week 4: I Won!!

I did it! Late last week I passed the 50,000-word mark. A few days ago, I validated my novel on the NaNo website and was rewarded with a group of people cheering. So nice to get some encouragement for pressing on in what can be a solitary and lonely profession.

However, I still had a ways to go to finish the draft of what I’m calling Consuming Fire. From what I can tell, it will be around 80,000 words.

After I hit 50,000, my motivation evaporated like water in the desert. So this is where discipline and whatever sense of professionalism I have come into play. By making myself write, I learned a few more things.

1. Sometimes when I feel the least like writing, I do my best work.

Take Tuesday, for example. I wrote about 1500 words in the morning, and diddled around all afternoon. I just didn’t want to get back to it. Finally, I made myself get to work. The next thing I knew, I’d cranked out 500 words and the scene had taken some interesting twists I hadn’t thought of before.

2. My outline is only a guide

Going along with point #1, my outline gets me started on what will happen in the scene I’m working on. But sometimes as I start putting words in my characters’ mouths, things go in a different direction. Or I see better possibilities for what I want to happen, the characters to feel, or to ramp up the conflict. So the outline only serves as the diving board. I can decide what kind of dive to do as I’m jumping off.

3. Participation in events can have some good payoffs

NaNo to me was more of a way to push myself to get my draft completed. I’d heard there were prizes for the winners. Now that I’ve seen some, I’m glad I made the effort. There are some free or deeply discounted writing books, and some discounts on subscriptions to writing websites that help you get feedback on your work. This last is something I’ve struggled with. I may now have the solution to that problem.

So would I do NaNo again? Absolutely. Having the word count goal and trying to finish by the deadline helped me stay on track. The planning and preparation I did before made it all doable.

Now if someone could come up with a similar program for revising and editing…

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