On Writing Challenges: NaNoWriMo

As some of you may know, I tried out NaNoWriMo. I failed. I will admit that it was a spur of the moment kind of thing and I severely underestimated the word target. I’m determined to finish. I’m halfway done.

The reality is that I wanted to put down an S-draft for this one story since it was the biggest idea I had for a story. Fiction, and especially long-form fiction, is a totally new kind of thing for me. Truth be told, I hardly read novels anymore. So it does seem strange that I would try to write one. But my project wasn’t originally going to be a novel, and in the end, it probably won’t be one either. The original plan was to write a series of three stories about a guy dating in three kinds of ways in the modern world, a dating trilogy. That’s still part of it. But as time went on, I decided a novella would probably be the way to go. NaNoWriMo gave me the opportunity to focus me into writing it. Go for a short novel length, and then trim it down. I think this plan is still the way to go.

As I’ve been writing it, I’m discovering there isn’t that much material here for a good novel. A good novella, sure, but not a novel. And this is the lesson I learned from this challenge. Learn your limits. Could this story be a novel? No. Can I write a novel in one month? Not in this current writing mode, and not with all the distractions I had this month. Can I do it in the future? I’m pretty sure I can. The important thing is that I’m almost certain to try again (with a different story, of course). I’m learning a lot about my limits. Where they actually are, and where they don’t exist.

The other thing is the expansion of my own imagination. Part of the process of novel writing is really getting out of your own mode. The characters in your story aren’t merely figments of your imagination nor alternative versions of yourself. They are different lives that you are creating, that you must respect, and that you must allow to make their own decisions. This is the magic in writing–getting away from yourself. This, of course, will be obvious to other writers, but maybe not to non-writers.

So the basic lessons: Keep pushing. Keep writing. Live outside yourself.

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2 Responses to On Writing Challenges: NaNoWriMo

  1. Nicely put, except for one thing: You didn’t fail! Not exactly. You figured out your process and your next steps and that’s pretty cool.

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