Thursday, December 1, 2011

Writing Challenge (NaNoWriMo) Afterthoughts

It is hard to believe that another NaNoWriMo has passed. I completed my personal writing challenge a week early. Here are some of the things I learned:

  • What goals works? 250 words is a decent goal and I gave myself a day off a week. It doesn’t take long to write, and I can always write more. The words add up over time and it is a good way to keep building my skills when I’m busy. I love NaNoWriMo, but the 1667 words a day is hard to keep up with when I have a full time job.
  • Confidence. I feel better when I write. When I go to sleep that night, I know that I have done something instead of overwhelming guilt.
  • Day or night? I like writing in the morning. Evening tends to be more realistic
  •  Obvious distractions. I always have a drink by my side and eat beforehand (I don’t tend to snack). Social networking that I am writing or editing reminds me if I go on there too long after I announce it, then it is a sign that I’m doing the opposite (shame sometimes works).
  • Go out. It is easy to stay in now since winter is here in North Dakota. I did my best by going out to the local bookstore once a week to play bit of catch up with no distractions. It is nice to treat myself to a drink, too. 
  • Prompts. I hope to use what I wrote in November to possibly create an outline for a MG novel. One of the things that I liked is when I wrote a scene, I always had more to say at the end. They just weren’t ready yet. I would write down a few suggestions or unused ideas to use as prompts for the next day.
I am going to admit, I had this hope that I could figure out my process a bit more. I listened to an amazing panel with authors Neil Gaiman and Connie Willis where they talked about how every time they wrote a new work, the process was always different. It might be a frustrating thought, but at the same time, it keeps writing new and exciting. (I suggest watching the video. There is so much information that is helpful for all writers. Scroll down in the blog post to find the link.)

Another piece of advice that I found from one of my favorite authors, Shannon Hale, also talks about the challenges of writing: 

"Sometimes I wish writing a book could just be easy for me at last. But when I think about it practically, I am glad it's a struggle. I am (as usual) attempting to write a book that's too hard for me. I'm telling a story I'm not smart enough to tell. The risk of failure is huge. But I prefer it this way. I'm forced to learn, forced to smarten myself up, forced to wrestle. And if it works, then I'll have written something that is better than I am."

Congrats to all the fellow writing challengers and NaNoWrimo participants!


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