28 November 2012

Dear NaNoWriMo: The End is Nigh

Dearest NaNoWriMo,

Well...it's been a good year.  With still two days left until I conclude my third year, I have never been closer to actually reaching the 50,000 word goal.  Two (or three, depending on how you look at it) days left and I only have roughly another seven and a half thousand words to go.  Despite all of the frustration, the worry, the stress, the craziness of it all, I'm glad to have gone through with this month.

And now, having gone through the motions of writing (nearly) every day, I can say that it isn't really my thing.  Writing every day is fine, though -- I think it's an admirable and effective means to bust out a first draft -- but I think what would work better for me is if I planned everything out beforehand.  I never considered myself a planner, because I don't have to, or want to know all of the nitty gritty details, but in order to actually write something, I have to know the purpose, or the end goal.

With that being said, I think the most effective routine for me would be one similar to John Flanagan's.  He takes two months to plan the book out chapter by chapter, and after that it takes him roughly three months to write it.  With what I've learned from NaNoWriMo, I think that would work for me, too.

The hardest part was how the spontaneous scenes changed the flavor of the story.  Those "gray areas" between point A and point B are the hardest for me to write because I have no idea what I want to do next.  Instead of relishing the freedom, I'm hindered by the vast infinity of possibilities, and it leaves me unable to write.  So when I know what I want to write, things get done.

I have never been so close to finishing NaNo before.  I'm talking close here.  Like, I have every intention of winning this year.  And it will be my first.  I'll be one for three.

It's a great feeling to have something so massive under my belt, no matter how crappy it is.  And it is crappy.  Incredibly so.  As in, I have over a hundred and fifty pages and still haven't gotten to the rising action yet.  That kind of crappy.  Not to mention the pages upon pages upon pages of rambling prose, failed attempts at humorous dialogue, and a main character who still hasn't made up her mind whether or not she's a freak.

Oh, the throes of the first draft.  What a bittersweet sting.

Despite how much good it's done me, I'll still be glad when all of this is over.  I feel like I've been on a tightrope the entire month, balancing tenuously above the dark, endless abyss of failure.  And now, with the end (and possible failure) so near, I feel like I've been handed a fifty ton weight.  While there is no doubt that I will succeed this year, I am still glancing nervously down at the abyss.

To all my fellow Wrimos who feel that they have already fallen into the chasm, you have undertaken a noble cause this month, and there is no way you have come out of it (no matter how much or how little you've written) without learning something.  I hope you'll try again next year.  I'm glad I've been participating every year, because if I hadn't, I wouldn't be so close to winning this year.  And if I only win one out of every three years, I'm okay with that.

How did you do this year?  How are you feeling now that the end is so close?

Most Sincerely and Affectionately (and always Determinedly),

Your Biggest Fan

For the uninformed, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to get to 50,000 words in thirty consecutive days -- the "thirty consecutive days" being the month of November. For more info (and to join in the fun!) check out the NaNoWriMo site. You can add me as a friend here.