NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

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I stumbled upon NaNoWriMo last year when a colleague asked if I’d ever heard of it. “No,” I had replied, I hadn’t. She couldn’t believe it because I write all the time; everyone in my life knows this. Experimenting with her class using the Young Writers’ Program, this colleague introduced the competition to her Writers’ Workshop class, a course I wasn’t teaching until the following semester, and she invited all her students (in other classes, too) to join her in the challenge. I decided to, also. While I’ve been writing since I was about seven years old, I’d never written such quantity in such a short amount of time. I didn’t know how well I’d do. Preparing for almost all of October helped, most certainly, in making my first go at this competition run smooth. In fact, I surpassed my goal by the deadline.

Now, I’ve completed my third NaNoWriMo challenge, also participating in CampNaNoWriMo in April of last year. In both April and this November, I’ve invited students to join me. Maybe the best part of each of these competitions is passing on the bug: the love for writing that is as necessary as breathing for some of us. The importance of a community of writers has become a paramount lesson in all of this for me. Writers understand one another, they fuel one another, and they inspire, too!

I’m a planner by nature, and, now, after round three, I can securely say there’s something to be said about writing every single day and writing abundantly. The connections I’ve made with other writers and the lessons I’ve learned about myself, as both person and writer, are inestimable.

Nano 2013 Winner stats

Nano 2013 Done

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Slow and Steady Wins the Race

nano count Nov 21 13

Dear Blog,

I’ve been neglecting you. See, I’ve been working on a NaNoWriMo project that isn’t going as well as I was hoping. Sure, word-wise, I’m on target, but my book is still just not where I want it to be. Last year at this time, momentum was at an all time high. Obsessed with my story, I wrote and wrote and wrote; I dreamed and breathed it. For this book, I’m coaxing myself.

Lev Grossman in his pep talk to NaNo-ers wrote that we all have doubts as writers… that rough drafts are just that. I’m putting my faith in his words. While the ideas soared with my last project, this one may need more Tender Loving Care.

I’m committed to the contest. I’m committed to winning. Most importantly, I’m committed to the process and what I can learn about my story, its characters and myself along the way.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Yours Truly,

A frustrated, but committed writer

Half-way There

You’re going along on a road. You know the destination, but the path is foggy. There are so many choices.

This has been my NaNoWriMo process. I have a concept. I’ve begun. I’m on my way; that much I know. I’m seven chapters in and still the direction isn’t clear.At this point last year, my story virtually was writing itself.

I’m not saying I want to abandon this idea. It isn’t that it’s bad; it just isn’t good, yet. There are blips of goodness. Lines of enlightenment. I’m going to keep feeling my way through the dark because I believe the light will come and make the path clearer.

I’m hoping this half-way point is the turning point I’ve been waiting for.

Nano 2013 count day 14

The NaNoWriMo Commitment

Nano 2013 prep

Deciding to participate in NaNoWriMo is like making a commitment. I take my commitments seriously, for I am loyal to a fault. After having participated last year for the first time, I find myself a bit ambivalent about this go around. Last year, I was super energized, primarily from a place of curiosity. Could I complete it? Would it define me as a serious writer? How would it turn out?

I’m happy to report that the result was an amazing experience, like a first love, everything is new and exciting– I approached it all with eyes wide open! I learned so much about myself, not only as a writer but as a person. I exceeded my goals. I wrote, perhaps, my best novel to date; of course, that was after months and months of revising what I’d initially spewed onto to paper. But, committed as I am, I tooled until my novel took shape. It’s currently being considered at a publishing house. I’m waiting. The waiting is brutal.

Perhaps, part of the reason I’m not 100% sure I can/ want to take this year’s challenge is because I have no closure on the product of last year. But there is something more. I’m not naive, this time, to what it takes to accomplish the monumental task of writing almost 1,700 words a day. It’s all encompassing of time and thought and dedication. Then, there’s the commitment to a topic.

Last year, I wrote something different– a novel so unlike what I’d written before. My idea came quick and the details fell into place easily.

This time, I’m stuck. I have several ideas ruminating, one I’ve still not been able to commit to, so the nearer November 1st, the less prepared I feel. Is the success of NaNoWriMo contingent upon the preparation? I was uber prepared last time. I began with a solid outline, character bios so complete that my characters knew what they were going to say before I did. I researched the scenario, reading and taking copious notes.

And, here I am, less than four weeks away with nothing. I can’t even decide on a plot.

Perhaps, that’s where my learning will come this year– in accepting that sometimes it’s okay to just begin and see what evolves. What’s the worse that can happen? Writer’s block. Been there. Dealt with that before. Writing that is sub-par. Been there too, and, at that point, you have two choices: craft it into something meaningful or shelve it for another day.

I believe writing is organic. A writer commits to a seed and allows it to flourish. I’m guessing that’s where I am right now.

Goal for T minus less-than-four weeks: find my seed.

seed