Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lessons from a Month of Writing

For the past 25 days, I’ve been engrossed in NaNoWriMo. I’m 42242 words into my manuscript. That means I’m 7758 words from being a NaNo winner! Here is what I’ve learned so far:


Plan ahead
To write a novel in a month, I had to be prepared starting Day 1. In October, I wrote a six page outline of my story. It wasn’t important that I stuck to this outline, but it was necessary that it existed if I needed something to fall back on. I wrote out character descriptions, came up with names and created settings from the ground up. I even bought poster board and drew a map of my fantasy world. I prepared the building blocks of my story (in a handy, travel-ready binder) so when November came, I could just write.
 
Don’t (over) think, just write
I stressed over word choice too many times this month. I let myself think over the word “walk” or “turn” or “like” for a few minutes before just typing it anyway so I could get on with the story. I forced myself to type out the simple, overused word so I wouldn’t get stuck. And I did it with this thought in mind: I can and will change it later, in edits. I realized that to write 2000 words a day, I couldn’t over think one or five or a dozen words, or I would never get anywhere. I just had to write.
 

Write even if you don’t want to
So many mornings I woke up and didn’t want to write. I wanted to go back to bed, hide under the covers or turn on the Today Show and zone out to Matt Lauer. Some days I woke up with a headache. Most days I had some excuse for why I shouldn’t write. But I had a goal to make, so I ignored the bed, the TV and the headaches. I put myself in front of my laptop (usually with the assistance of coffee) and wrote. If I hadn’t forced myself out of bed in the 7 o’clock hour every day this month, I wouldn’t be close to my current word count. I didn’t need the extra sleep, I needed the extra words.


You can still have a life and write
In October, I thought that to write everyday meant I wouldn’t do anything besides write and work. Reading would go by the wayside. Boyfriend time would be limited. And I could forget about being caught up on my Hulu queue. But, surprisingly, I slowly realized it didn’t have to be that way. If I did work, then I wrote before or after and still had a few free hours in the evening. If it was a day off, I churned out 2000 words before 11AM then had the rest of the day to read a book, watch Castle, hang out with my boyfriend or work on my blog.


Conclusions
This November, I learned about my writing habit. I discovered that waking up at 7AM and going straight to the computer works for me. I discovered that writing is an effort I have to make; it isn’t just going to happen by itself. And I thankfully realized that my life will not stop if I start a daily writing habit. Life and writing can co-exist. And I plan to keep up that coexistence into December and 2013!

4 comments:

  1. You're making remarkable progress! I'm very proud of you and I can't wait to read the final rough draft :)

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  2. Congratulations! Keep going!

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  3. This is fantastic! I've been looking forward to an update. Good luck in this last week!

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  4. Thanks so much everyone! I'm excited that it's working out! And I'm going to keep typing away in these last few days.

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