NaNoWriMo is officially over and I clocked in at approximately 74,000 words! I’m feeling prêt-ty good right now!
I’m also very, very, VERY tired.
Anyway, the entire experience was a blast. It’s funny that I can say that now because when I first signed up for it, I was convinced I was going to die. I thought I had lost my mind, I thought it was one of the worst decisions I ever made in my life.
I only got one out of three right, (I did lose my mind) but I didn’t die and it wasn’t a bad decision – it was a GREAT decision. I’m doing it again next year!
NaNoWrimo has taught me so much about myself and about writing. And next year I will not only be a veteran, I will make sure that I do a lot more outline and prep work before I start writing…hopefully creating a smoother experience.
Looking back over this last month, I kind of wonder how I did it….and so, I assembled this list of reasons.
God’s Grace: My twin and I prayed throughout NaNoWriMo, asking for God’s blessing and inspiration for ourselves and one another. The rest of my family prayed as they always did, that God would grant us success and wisdom in all we do. And best of all…Jesus has been interceding for me. It is mind boggling to think that He actually cares whether or not I write this dumb story. Why should the ruler of the universe, the salvation of the world, give a bent pin about me…let alone my comparatively pathetic attempts at creativity (a story can’t compare to creating the world)…and yet he does! I confess, I felt presumptuous about asking him for help on my projects, almost embarrassed. I am speechless at the thought that he stooped down to help me through this little project of mine. God deserves all the glory and praise. Because of Him I have a quick and sound mind, an imagination, a gift for storytelling, hands to type it out my stories…the wherewithal to afford a laptop, electricity....everything I needed to complete the task He gave me. It is my prayer that more and more of my ideas in the future will stem directly from his voice. He has been truly gracious to me through this whole endeavor and I am so grateful.
My Twin: My twin is the one that got me started on NaNoWriMo. When she told me last year that she was participating in NaNoWriMo I thought she was dedicated, brave, amazing and completely crazy. I don’t think I doubted that she would be able do it…I just wasn’t sure what mental state she would be in at the end of November. Well, she was not only a NaNoWriMo winner, she was her same, sane self and she upped the anti by doing an unofficial NaNoWriMo in January, churning out yet another 50,000 word novel.
I think ‘shame’ is the right word to describe my feelings at this point. Here I was staring at my laptop trying to decide what my main character’s favorite color is and whether so-in-so and so-in-so should really end up together, while my twin was whipping out first drafts.
I did do a lot of writing from January to April…putting in a huge amount of work on my novel…but I wasn’t finishing it fast enough and I wanted a goal that would put my head on the chopping block so that I would be forced to actually finish a story…or else.
My twin has and always will be a source of inspiration to me. Plus, she was the veteran, the one I went running to in a panic when I got in trouble and unless I was bugging her when she was trying to write, she was usually prepared with a few words of wisdom or encouragement for this NaNoWriMo neophyte. Plus, just the fact that I had somebody else in the house participating in this wild ride with me made it so much easier. Just knowing she was in the next room typing gave me incentive to keep going. Thank you ‘Surely’ for everything!
My Writing Club: I would like to thank The Second Inkling’s Club – my family. Without my club’s weekly brainstorming sessions I would have been in serious trouble. Any disaster that can befall a writer, my club has got it covered in one brilliant meeting. It is really amazing to watch these writing minds in action. How do I get this character from Point A to Point B? Man eating plants, alien invasions! Why don’t you use vegetables as weapons? You could use giant peas instead of boulders in their catapults!
My Online Writing Buddies: Oh, my writing buddies, you are the people that kept me going. Knowing that there were thousands of people out there, all in same boat as me, made me feel less lonely, less crazy. I had the privilege of officially buddy-ing up with some of you and it has been an absolute joy and privilege getting to know you guys. My fellow writers, you are not only noble Jedi knights, you are great writers and wonderful friends. Thank you so much for everything!
Word Sprints: I would not have survived NaNoWrimo without word sprints. When I first started NaNoWriMo I was really girly about it ‘Oh no, I don’t want to compete, I don’t want to turn this into a race, or hurt anybody’s feelings’….cut to several days later to a wild eyed NaNo Viking madly thumping out words on her laptop. “Check the word count. Haha! I WON! I LOVE competing on NaNoWriMo – I LOVE winning! MUHAHWAHAHHHAAAAA!”
In all seriousness, there were many days where I thought I’d sooner trace the design on our living room carpet, or search for earthworms on our driveway than write, but by committing myself to word sprints, I was making myself answerable to someone else. I had told so and so that I would do a word sprint…and I couldn’t go back on my word. The idea that I was actually helping other writers write, made it more fun. And then as an added relish, someone—I think it was my pal, Malachi—came up with the idea that the losing members of a word sprint had to submit excerpts of their stories to the winner. Talk about fueling up the tank again. I was wild to see my fellow authors’ writings and this kind of challenge was all the incentive I needed to churn out even more words. It’s amazing what kind of inspiration comes to you when you set a deadline on yourself. I experienced more than one out of body experience, marveling at the way the human mind could work under the imaginary gun.
Chocolate: I confess, I ate more chocolate in November than I probably have in the last six months….perhaps a year. I initially started out with good intentions and the vague idea that I could only have a certain amount every day, but as the tension rose I soon exceeded my limits. Chocolate helped, a lot—but next year, I have vowed not to go quite so crazy. Just a little crazy…
Music Playlist: Everybody needs a music playlist to get them through these moments and so I compiled a list of my favorites that really kept my energy up and put a smile on my face.
Adventure Is A Wonderful Thing: This ought to be NaNoWriMo’s official theme song. Right before I started NaNoWriMo I kept hearing Owl's final line over and over in my head. “I salute you-and to those who do not return I salute you twice!”
Rocky: I dare anybody to watch/listen to this and not be pumped to do anything - from writing a 50,000 word novel to clocking some guy right in the face.
Danger Zone: Because novelists are just as cool as pilots. We navigate those skies of imagination with all the chutzpah and skill they have (and twice on Word Sprints!).
How Far I’ll Go: Something about the yearning and forward movement of this song just fills you with excitement and hope.
I Work Alone / Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now from the Adventures of Clutch Powers: These songs are just so fun and completely self explanatory. I especially love the last song, which if I could, I would dedicate to my writing buddies!
Undefeated: When things got tough, I just got up from my desk and danced....when in doubt or panic, writers…always, always, do your happy dance!
Star Wars Jedi Theme: Well, obviously! I am just going to assume that I do not have to explain how appropriate this theme is for writers.
The Mask of Zorro – The Ride: Because nothing is more cool than Zorro (Darth Vader is close, but he’s a bad guy) and imagining yourself in a cape could really aid the writing process. Zorro never fails to accomplish his acts of heroism, he could lick this NaNo thing in no time…and if he couldn’t, he would just scratch a big Z on the screen and move on.
Try Everything – Zootopia: The runner up theme song for NaNoWriMo…there’s no harm in just trying NaNo. I was terrified of failure…but if I had failed…so what? The point is, I tried…and next time, I’ll try even harder.
What NaNoWriMo has taught me:
1. I can write 5,000 words in one day…what remains to be seen is how many days running I can keep that up and I plan to find this out in January.
2. There are no writing police, except for the storm troopers that live in my head and perform daily raids, trying to spray retardant on everything I do and squelch any tentative feelings of victory. I have to deal with these guys on a daily – sometimes hourly basis.
Side note....there are ways to deal with these mental storm troopers....don't let them get away with bullying you!
But physically, no—there are no writing police. Nobody is going to show up and shred my story, I don’t even have to show it to anyone if I don’t want to.
3. I am more of a Plotter and an Outliner than a Pantser. I was definitely happiest in my writing game when I was working off of detailed notes. I could never be as much of a purist Outliner as say, the wonderful K.M Weiland – since I usually outline and then my characters have a tendency to mess everything up once I actually starting writing them – but I am definitely leaning more towards being a planner. When I just write spontaneously, I have a tendency to write more fluff.
4. I write and think laterally. That’s right. After spitting out a substantial amount of words, writing the scenes that I know and am inspired to work on, I like to go back and ‘write from the top’ filling in the holes as I go. The majority of my story, I like to write from the beginning to end. Each story is different of course, but speaking in generalities….I am a lateral writer.
5. You can survive on only an average of 5 hours of sleep (tops) every night for 30 days….yeah, let’s not even delve into that….’face hits keyboard…snores loudly.’
In closing; I learned a lot with NaNoWriMo and the learning process is just beginning! So away I go to try and finish up the mess commonly know as my novel. No rest for me…I am pressing forward at full throttle, wildly racing towards my goal of being a published author…and I would like to thank NaNoWriMo for being a step up as I make a leap for the sky. I could come up with nothing but a handful of clouds, but no matter what, I’ll keep aiming for the stars.
And again.....Congratulations to all my fellow NaNoWriMo Winners! It's been a great adventure!