Writing Reveals the Story: NaNoWriMo 2010 Recap01/06/2011
I’m just getting started on the 2011 Cannonball Read, so I figured I should get something jotted down about doing NaNoWriMo 2010 before I start to forget what it was like – as if I could!?
It was one of the most grueling things I’ve ever done, honestly. I got behind on the suggested word count right away, and I was behind for the whole month until I pulled it out and finished on 11/30 with 50,072 words at 11:30 pm.
I stopped working out in the morning because I wanted to get up and write. My husband complained because I was writing at night when we usually hang out together. But I did it! I made it to the end and won. I even have my certificate to show for it.
In December, a few people asked me if my novel was “done.” The answer to that is a resounding NO. What I did, instead of starting at the beginning and writing through to the end, was to each day write a different section of the story. The pieces were whatever came to mind, and if they happened to continue the story from the previous writing, then fine. For the word count, I copied each section into one long total document, and pasted that into NaNoWriMo.
If I were to give these pages to someone, the lack of punctuation, etc. would really interfere with their reading. In fact, I believe it would make a certain coworker’s head explode. <g> I’ve got a lot of work to do to be “done.”
Here are a few things that I jotted down in the little notebook I kept handy:
- You have to carve out the time to write. Plan it out, the words won’t write themselves.
- The internet is really distracting! See #1, and don’t spend all of that time on Twitter.
- I spent a lot of time writing early in the morning, like I’m doing now, but that was at the expense of exercise. This year, I’m going to try to fit a little of both in every morning, because I think it will help my quality of life in general. So carve out your time, but be aware of what you’re sacrificing.
- Writing with the correct punctuation, when I was in full swing, slowed me down. At some point I abandoned capital letters. I did keep periods, but commas were forsaken. Oh and don’t get me started on quotation marks. Those really threw me off my rhythm. So I moved to the inconsistent use of apostrophes, just to give the dialogue some designation. I also ditched the “he said,” “she stated” phrases (have since seen whole pages of dialogue without that.). Just get the thoughts written, and correct later.
- Good names are hard to find. I didn’t plan out my character names ahead of time, so when I “encountered” someone new in the story, I just gave people quick names that weren’t necessarily appropriate. I added those names to my master list, but I am sure that about 99% of them will be changed in the rewrite.
- I really like jotting things down on paper. I kept a notebook with me when typing on the computer. It helped to jot questions, ideas, and comments down as I was going. I type pretty quickly, but having pen and paper as an aside was a big help. Drawing arrows to items, crossing out lines, and writin in tiny print was very satisfying.
- Writing reveals the story. I knew this from teaching long ago. I told students, “Just get writing and the story will come.” This was the first time, really, that I experienced it myself. Characters and situations just came into being as I tried to fashion a tale, and I found myself in places I hadn’t anticipated. New Orleans, anyone?
Now that the holidays are over, I plan to do some editing and rewriting of the pieces I have. Someone in the Facebook NaNoWriMo group posted a link to the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award, and while I don’t think I’ll be ready to submit anything this year, I’m shooting for a submission next year. There’s nothing like a deadline to make me productive.
When I got back to my office after the holidays, my quotation calendar had this to say to me,
It is never too late to become what you might have been. — George Eliot
In 2011, I’ll be taking that to heart.