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NaNoWriMo, Year 8 October 4, 2008

Posted by LHK in NaNoWriMo, writing craft.

It’s NaNoWriMo season again (that’s “National Novel Writing Month,” for the uninitiated. One novel, 50,000 words, 30 days). Funny how the formerly one-month noveling sprint has become a lengthier event — the October run-up to the event where everyone crowds into the forums and starts the same topics every year, the frenzy of November and how it seems to pass more quickly every time, and then the cool-down in December when everyone pages through their November work and decides if they’ve created anything worth trying to edit.

Adam referred to me in his introductory post on the forums as his “hardened NaNo veteran” wife. This is accurate. This will be my eighth year doing NaNoWriMo, and though I grumble about it a little more every year, I always do join up and write a new draft and learn new things about myself as a writer. I don’t claim to learn positive things, though — sometimes I just learn how babbly and annoying I am when I get the chance to talk about writing with other writers. Or that I hit my diminishing-returns threshold when I try to write past 2 AM. And both in and out of November, I keep running up against the realization that the problems I have with writing these days aren’t anything that can be easily solved with a Julia Cameron book or a workshop about character development. I’m to that point where I can write a solid draft but not a fully satisfying one.

I admit I’m sometimes resentful of NaNo because I applied its “when in doubt, just draft” philosophy to The Center of Gravity for too long. At some point before, you know, the last few weeks, I should have taken ten minutes to BREATHE and realize that slowing down and constructing a workable backbone for the story would have been more beneficial than blasting through draft after draft and expecting all the problems to work themselves out.

So I don’t know whether it’s right to ask the question of when NaNoWriMo will outlive its usefulness for me. It’s better to try to figure out how to adapt what it is to what I need from year to year.

And I hope I won’t be taking on too much this time around (by saying this, of course, I’m insinuating that I know I’m taking on way too much). I’ll be revising The Center of Gravity, writing a new draft of a YA short story cycle for NaNoWriMo, and organizing some events for the Atlanta group. Yee haw, wagons forward, et cetera. Let me use the rest of October to build up an energy reserve for next month.



1. awalkabout - October 5, 2008

Eight years–that’s awesome! This will only be my second. And I have to agree, pantsing it doesn’t make much sense. Creating an outline really helps give direction to a project. Best of luck!

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