Friday, June 27, 2014

Using NaNoWriMo for My Own Purposes

I joined my first National Novel Writing Month in 2010. The thirty days of writing abandon lifted me off the ground with encouragement, camaraderie, and a nice award certificate for finishing with over 50,000 words.

I had the word count, but did I have a novel—a big NO.

What I had was a failed experiment. Of my two ideas for protagonists, one an older woman and one much younger, I went with the older character first. Unfortunately, I ran out of steam halfway in, about the same time I came to the end of my story. What to do? It’s NaNoWriMo, so I kept writing. I came up with another ending. I still didn’t have my word count, so I continued with notes and thoughts about what I’d do better—next time.

Out of that mess, came the basis for my next attempt with a different protagonist and different story elements. This turned out better, but it still wasn’t a novel.

So, for my 2013 effort, I found a writing group that met at Books-A-Million in Davenport. I joined in, but felt very uncomfortable. The group had a nice mix of ages, so it wasn’t that. It was me showing up with my old manuscript pages and working on a total rewrite. That didn’t jive with the often stated purpose of writers diving into something brand new and writing by the seat of their pants.

I felt that I’d done that already. Twice, even. Now, I needed more. I needed to refine, develop, and complete the process. I showed up every Friday night in November, but kept to myself. I stayed off to the side, sipped my latte, and typed away. I got my 50,000 words, my certificate, and a much better product. I neared my personal goal of having a real novel.

Now, with my novel tantalizingly close to completion, the goal for this year’s NaNoWriMo—50,000 brand new words.

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