Post Nano Tip: Dec. 2: What You Learned

You might not be able to answer this yet. You might be too tired, and not have enough distance. But it’s worth evaluating your Nano experience.

What did you learn about yourself and your writing?

If one of your writing obstacles is not scheduling daily time to write, did the parameters of Nano help you do that?

Were you too ambitious? Did you make it too easy on yourself?

Are you happy with getting down words on paper? Remember, this is a FIRST DRAFT. It’s not submission-ready. Nor will it be submission-ready if you do a single pass and then run it through spell check.

If you’re not finished, you need to keep up a daily pace, with scheduled days off, until you’re done.

If you finished within Nano, and WHEN you finish outside of Nano, you need to put the draft aside for a long enough period so you can get some objectivity.

Genuine revisions mean you re-envision your novel. It’s about more than just fixing typos and putting in the proper punctuation and smoothing out discrepancies. It’s about restructuring, if necessary. Cutting scenes, characters, chapters, if necessary. Following trails you abandoned originally, because they serve the overall piece better. Adding scenes, if necessary. Re-shaping. Making every sentence sing.

That takes time and commitment. It’s a totally different headspace than is needed to create a first draft.

I prefer to draft in the morning and edit a different project in the afternoon. That way, I can give my full attention to a project in the form in which it needs attention.

What do I believe I learned this Nano?

I learned that 1667+ words a day is not, for the most part, a natural pace for me. I worked on two very, very different projects. Their natural pace was either around 1400 words a day, or around 2000 words a day, depending on whether it was a good day or a mediocre day.

Working on two different projects (minimum) is the norm for me. So the fact that I moved between the two projects wasn’t an obstacle, for the most part. It was a positive in that, when I felt tired or stuck on one, I could move to the other, and keep going. It made it easier to reach the 50K. The downside was that I sometimes I felt I lost focus.

I was worried that, because both novels are in first person, I would muddy the voices. Fortunately, both the characters and genres are different enough that I didn’t. But sometimes I felt I was copping out by moving from one to the other.

However, I still got a great deal of work done on both. The words counted didn’t even include all the character tracking sheets and research I had to stop and do on the way.

I was also inspired to write an outline for a third project, which I did not count in Nano, an historical novel with touches of romance and mystery. I admit, I was tempted to call it “Rebel 2” and work on it. I wrote an outline and basic character relationships – mostly so my protagonists would shut up and let me write the other pieces. But it wasn’t part of my word count.

Another helpful thing I did was sit down with my roster of projects and set deadlines into the future. Some are dictated by my publishing schedule; others I fit in and around those contracts. I am frustrated with the amount of time given for each book, feeling I am not working fast enough; however, it is a realistic schedule to make sure each book is GOOD enough.

The quality is more important than the quantity.

That seems counter to Nano, which focuses on quantity, but it’s actually an outgrowth.

The other helpful thing about this year’s Nano was that I used it to break poor writing habits I’d fallen into over the preceding months. Again, this sounds counter to Nano. But I had been lazy – writing at odd moments or skipping too many days in a row and then binge writing. Nano got me back on a daily writing quota schedule.

I didn’t spend much time on forums this year, which had been one of my great joys in previous years. I got to hang out with other writers in my region, which was nice. Our ML was terrific, and our group was both fun and supportive. I didn’t enjoy myself on the general forums, mostly because I’m at a different place in my writing life than most of them are. I have different obstacles and concerns. I’ve also gone from having low tolerance for whiners to zero tolerance for whiners, and a necessary part of forum interaction is giving people a place to whine.

I need to be around people DOING, not whining, or planning. DOING. Active, not passive. Anything else is too energy-depleting for me right now.

So there were a lot of positives in the past month.

Will I do it again?

Every December, I swear I won’t. However, I won’t really know until November 1 of next year.

I hope you had a wonderful experience and that you keep writing.


Published in: on December 2, 2015 at 5:41 am  Comments Off on Post Nano Tip: Dec. 2: What You Learned  
Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: