A Look Back on NaNoWriMo

November has come and gone, and I’m happy to report that I was able to finish the first draft of my (still untitled) thirteenth novel. NaNoWriMo: complete! I really enjoyed the experience, although there were definitely a few times when I wished I hadn’t signed up for the commitment. It was a lot of fun to see the friends I had on NaNo making progress to their goals, and it was a great motivator for me–mainly because of my strong competitive streak, and THERE WAS NO WAY I WAS GOING TO BE BEATEN.


That said, I still feel like I was cheating somewhat. I’ve been writing every day for the last 10 years or so. I knew exactly what I was getting into, and I’ve got plenty of practice writing and finishing novels. It’s a learned skill, no doubt, so there were times when I felt kind of bad for updating my word count. Not that I consider myself a “professional” writer yet, but NaNo seems quite aimed at the novice crowd, and I’ve got more experience than that. (Not that this made me stop updating my word count, mind you.)

Writing a book “off the cuff” and in a rush was a whole lot of fun in many ways, but I’m not sure about the final product. Where I would normally have stopped and tried to come up with some fixes to the plot and the characters when the going started to get sloggy, I just plowed forward. I’ll be interested to hear what my alpha readers have to say about it. Writing without a real outline at all was very freeing–I was motivated to keep going, because I wanted to find out what happened next. That’s a great feeling to have, and when I was doing 2,000+ words a day, it was much easier to have that sense of continuity.

Maybe being a full time writer would be a pretty sweet gig. Go figure.

I was surprised at how I was able to write myself out of some corners. Things would be happening in the book, and I was stumped about how I’d get my characters out of the jams I was getting them into. Somehow I managed to do it, and while it felt like I managed to do so in a good way, it again remains to be seen. Pesky reader feedback.

I know some people have a lot of trouble coming up with ideas for their books. I’ve never really suffered from this, and this experiment showed me I’m pretty good at coming up with ideas in the middle of books too. The biggest problem I have is telling when too many ideas are swirling around. I’m always tempted to just keep dumping more in there. I need idea brakes.

In any case, it was fun. I’m glad it’s done–doing NaNo in the middle of this crazy November was insane. But now I can say I’ve done it, and if the end result is salvageable, I might try it again sometime. Maybe soon, even.

In the meantime, I have a Christmas newsletter to write, OUR LADY to revise, THE MEMORY THIEF revision on its way at some point . . .  Once that’s all done, I’ll have some revision of this book to do (hopefully), and then it’ll be time for something else to write. If nothing else, I’m really happy NaNo added another novel to my mix. I like having a lot of projects in the works at once. Makes me feel like I’m actually, you know–a writer.

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