Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nanowrimo Week 5--Hey, What Week 5?

Yes, there really is a Week 5.  I call it: Getting Life Back on Track After Nanowrimo.  And the first thing I want to do is congratulate everyone who reached--and passed--that 50K goal (me, too!).  Good job, writers.  Good job, also, to those who did their best to stay with the program but for one reason or another found themselves lagging behind.  Take heart; you've got some word counts you didn't have before the month started, and with any luck you have some great ideas and plot lines to keep working on until you reach The End.

For the five years I've participated in Nanowrimo, not one year has been like the other.  Not just because I wrote wildly different types of stories and worked in various genres, but because of what I wanted to do in Week 5.  Some years I continued to work furiously to add on another 50K words.  Other years I just wanted to read and sleep.  This year I want to put my manuscript to bed and carry on writing the WIP I was working on in October.  To do that I still have to place my Nanowrimo pages in binders, make some notes to remind me what the story is actually about for when I do go back to it, and I need to spend some serious time re-reading the earlier WIP.  I also want to evaluate some of the things I learned from yet another month of non-stop, first draft writing:
  1. Not everyone wants to write novels.  And that's okay.  More than once I found myself reassuring writer friends and student newbies that it's fine to discover you're a nonfiction writer at heart.  Follow your passion--write what compels you to keep going.
  2. We all have different endurance levels.  There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to the word counts we "should" have finished by the end of each writing session.
  3. Self-discipline and scheduling; what works, what doesn't?  If Nanowrimo encouraged you to find the perfect time of day to write, don't let go of that.  Cut out everything else, but save that precious slice of time when you're at your most productive level.
  4. Subject matter and genre.  My Nanowrimo story, Into the Woods, was a murder mystery.  While I enjoyed the foray into puzzle-solving and giving my characters dark secrets, I still found myself wanting to break the rules.  When it comes to fiction, I'm a literary writer at heart and my job is to stay true to everything that means.
  5. Writer's groups.  While I was writing, I kept thinking how much I would have enjoyed learning from other mystery writers.  When I'm ready to start my rewrite, I plan to look for a mystery critique group.  You might want to explore joining a group that supports your new-found genre, too.
  6. Then again, because of my "rule-breaking" I found myself being something of a lone wolf.  Writing without critiques from others might be the best way for you to trailblaze your own original path.
  7. Writing tools.  My Alphasmart Neo was, yet again, my lifesaver.  I love that little machine.  I also found I loved orange ink, calligraphy pens, and the most expensive legal pads money can buy.
  8. How do you react under pressure, otherwise known as "a deadline"?  For some reason, I felt incredibly unpressured this year.  It could have been because I was also at my most prepared:  outline, character bios, and backstories were all in place before November 1.
  9. There's no room for perfectionism in Nanowrimo, and there's no room for it in any first draft.  "Just write, don't think" should be our mantra every time we sit down to write any draft.
  10. Sleep is highly over-rated--at least when you want to reach a goal.  I got up an extra hour earlier than usual each day and not only did I improve my word count, I think I felt more productive all day long.  I've decided to stick with this new schedule and I'm excited about it.
  11. What are your "avoidance" tactics to stay away from writing?  This year I was pretty good about putting my writing first, but there was one day when I decided to wash the kitchen curtains instead.  Writing would have been much more fun, I can assure you.
  12. Renewed knowledge that yes, I can do it, you can do it, we all can do it.  We're writers.  Given a task, we deliver.  And that is the one and only secret to getting published:  words on pages.
Tip of the Day:  National Novel Writing Month is intense, exhilarating, fun, and draining.  Give yourself a break for at least a week:  read, rest, doodle, dream; and if you do want to keep writing--pamper yourself along the way, you deserve it!

No comments: