As I wrote way back at the end of October, I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2012 and 2013 and completed the 50,000 words to be deemed a Winner. This year I was going into it with a different goal in mind–to finally finish the novel I started during last year’s NaNoWriMo, or to at least write 20,000 words towards that goal. As luck would have it, I heaved myself over both my goal lines yesterday evening, reaching what I envisioned as the end of my novel and topping off at 20,059 words. I was much less diligent than I had been in previous years, but it worked out.
And when I say “finish the novel”, I mean, of course, “finish the first draft of the novel”. While I quite like some parts, there are others that definitely need work, including the ending which needs major wordsmithing. And I am sure that when I read it through again (sometime after the Christmas holidays), I will find plot holes and inconsistencies, characters who change names, and many, many typos. I know this because I’ve gone through the process with my first NaNoWriMo creation. It’s the flip side of racing through writing a novel in 30 days–it can need more editing than it would have otherwise. And I’m ready for it.
Somehow though, the slower, lazier pace I set this year did not create the “magic” that I had found in previous years: the magic of spending so much time in the world you’ve created with the characters you know so well that sometimes the story writes itself. Put the characters in a scene, with the aim of doing something which advances the plot, and sit back and take dictation as fast as you can.
Is NaNoWriMo for everyone? No, and I read a very good blog post lately that went through the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages of NaNoWriMo. Not everyone can sit down and write for a month straight, even if you’ve outlined the plot beforehand. I’ve done NaNoWriMo because I need the discipline, even if it’s somewhat self-imposed, of sitting down and writing something every day. Still I find myself wandering off and researching some arcane fact to ensure I get it correct, which is definitely frowned upon in NaNoWriMo.
What NaNoWriMo does provide is an insight into the life of a professional writer. While I’m not sure if many writers manage to crank out 50,000 words month after month, it’s a reasonable facsimile, and valuable as such.
Will I participate again? I’m not sure, and December 1 is probably the wrong time to ask that question. Let’s wait and let the writing settle a bit. There’s plenty of time–and plenty of words–between now and next November.