If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is check out their website here. The basic premise is to write a 50,000 words novel in the thirty days of November. I have participated in this challenge since 2010 and really enjoy pushing myself to write.
What 2010 taught me about my first draft process is this: write-through the fear. Often times, when writing I get to a point where I don’t know what I am going to do or where the story is going. This might seem odd since I don’t tend to outline, but I usually have a vague idea of where the story is taking me; usually two to five steps ahead of where I am chapter wise.
When I reach the end of that I often hit a block. My first NaNoWriMo taught me to write-through the fear and the unknown. It goes back to Anne Lamott’s idea of the shitty first draft. The whole point of a first draft is to get the story on the page in all of its messy glory. It doesn’t matter if it is pretty or not. I also tend to think of this stage of drafting as the “don’t kill the baby stage.” I learned that it is important to not jump into judging it too fast because you don’t know how it is going to turn out in the rewrite and revision stage.
The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that I learned something completely different in 2011. Last year I finished the first complete draft of novel-1. It isn’t technically the first novel I’ve completed, but it is the first one to make it to the rewrite and revision stage of the process. Well, I finished novel-1 on October 31, 2011 and then proceeded to start writing its sequel on November 1. And I had to drag every last word out during last year’s NaNoWriMo; yay for burnout. I am sure this had nothing to do with being in grad school at the time. I swear.
I am out of grad school now. Yay. And so I plan to learn a new lesson in 2012; novel-1’s revision deadline is set for October 31, 2012. However, I am going to write something not related to novel-1 or its sequel. I have several shiny new ideas dancing around in my head. I think I am going to pick one; hopefully before November 1 (although who knows) and go with it. I need a break from Novel-1’s world much as I love it and the characters I’ve created.
If you’re a writer, do you plan on taking part in NaNoWriMo?
©K. Klein 2012