This past month, and actually the month preceding it, have done huge things for my writing adventures. NaNoWriMo has been an invaluable experience, in which I’ve learned many new things and have also been reminded of important things I knew but had forgotten. Obviously these are personal to my own process, but if they help anyone, I’m happy to share!
1. I need a long and very involved discovery phase.
Some people can think a few ideas up and go outline them. That’s not me. I have found that I need a long time to think and mull and research and experiment. It does not come quickly for me. I really think if I went through this whole phase and came out with a completed outline (instead of the partial one I had during Nano), that I would enjoy the writing so much more and that I might actually be more productive because I wouldn’t be solving huge issues on the fly.
2. I have to write about writing in order to write.
I thought I was strange for this until I discovered that many other writers do the same thing. No one really knows how to explain it, so we all just think we’re odd. I have a journaling document that accompanies my project file. During the discovery phase, I type every crazy thought into that document. I talk/write to myself to figure out the plot. I say what I’d like to happen and why. These conversations with myself seem to be essential to my process. I end up with thousands of words that might be useless as words, but the ideas that come from them are the backbone of my story.
3. I need a set time to write.
If I just sit down to write with 6 free hours, I will undoubtedly stare into space (and not in the productive way) for 4 hours and 49 minutes and then realize that the page is still blank. Now I only have an hour left to do something, ANYTHING to make the past 5 hours of staring worthwhile. If I give myself 1 hour to write and have no idea what I’m working on, I can come up with about 800 to 1,000 words. If I know beforehand what I’m going to work on in that same hour, I can get anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 words.
I put aside an hour at lunch and an hour in the evening for Nano and had no issue getting out 2,000 words a day except for the days when I really didn’t know what I was doing story-wise. It seems that I am more productive if I give myself LESS time to write because I won’t waste it.
4. I love twitter sprints and the community that comes with them!
I would not have made it to 50K if it were not for a boatload of twitter sprints. The standing daily sprint each weekday with the ROW80 crowd was amazing. In addition to that, I sprinted in the evening and on weekends with local Wrimos, some of the MyWana crew, and more ROWers. There were so many participants throughout the month that provided motivation and encouragement. I thank you all!! This may sound strange, but I almost don’t want to write any other way. I looked forward to the time I had set aside each day and loved having good company! Communal writing is for me!
5. When stuck, just skip around.
Because huge pieces of my plot were either hazy or missing completely, there were times I was stuck but still needed to make the word count for that day. I moved forward into the story to a part I did know and worked on that. I really enjoyed skipping around. It kept up the forward momentum, didn’t allow me to mentally cripple myself into putting it away, and sometimes even solved the earlier problem that I was having to being with.
6. If I have headphones, I can write anywhere.
This past month, I’ve written at work, at home, in a cafe, a library, and my car. I wrote through vacuuming, screaming children, and some of my favorite movies/tv shows being played all of 20 feet from me. I even wrote while sitting at the same table with friends having a very heated political debate! All I need is headphones to drown out the sound, and I’m good. I found that I actually prefer to be amongst people while working. There’s some sort of secret pleasure in being immersed in my world that no one else knows about quite yet.
I’m sure there are more things I’ve learned, but those are the ones that stand out at the moment. I feel like doing Nano has changed a lot of things. I am definitely a Wrimo for life! As far as goals for the rest of this round, I’m still a little bit frazzled. A couple HUGE life things happened in November that I chose to ignore as to not get distracted from Nano. So this week, I’m going to relax, reorganize, and come up with new goals. I should have something posted either Wednesday or Sunday.
For the ROWers, I drudged up some frantic, funny, and inspiring moments from our twitter feeds from the past month for your post-Nano enjoyment:
Hope you enjoyed!! Have any favorite Nano moments of your own? Thanks again for all the support over the last month!! Check out all the wonderful ROW80 updates HERE!