Friday, 30 November 2012

I WON! I WON! Wait, what did I win? Stuff I learned from NaNoWriMo

So I took it down to the wire and finished today. 50k. 30 days. And here's my stats page where you can see my very steady progress. 

Stuff I learned from my first NaNo:

1. I can up my expectation of myself and meet it. It won't kill me.

I'm always setting myself targets - usually 1k a day when it comes to word count. NaNo calls for more, and just the knowledge that it did had me saying things like 'I've only written 1500 words today'. That would have been a good writing day before this month. Now I know that I don't always have to push myself this hard, but I also know that I can.

2. I can write all sorts of scenes that might not need to go in the book but still serve a purpose. 

I tend to write short YA contemporary novels. So when I got to 42k for NaNo, I'd finished the planned story. But since I wanted to win (because I just did), I wrote all sorts of scenes linked with the story - an alternate ending I'd been considering, a collection of flashbacks, a stack of scenes that I couldn't decide whether or not to include. And I'm so glad I did! I already know that a lot of them will go into the book and it will be better for it. Even the ones I'm not so sure about helped me think more about my mc and the other characters. I wouldn't have bothered writing any of these scenes without NaNo.

3. If I plan a novel in great detail beforehand, I never get stuck. 

This is another first for me. I pantsed the novel my agent signed me on (and then edited extensively). But I knew I wouldn't be able to write 50k in 30 days without a plan, so this time I made one. And what's more, I really enjoyed doing it. It was invaluable and it was fun. Bonus. I don't know yet if it will mean less revision afterwards, but I'm thinking that it will.

I've never had a problem writing through to the end without editing, but I know for those of you who do, NaNo is a big deal in that way. So how about you? Did you 'win'? Did you get something more useful out of it than the win? Did you figure something out about writing you hadn't figured out before? Do you now get to reward yourself with the second season of Vampire Diaries??