The World According to Renee

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Things I Learned from NaNoWriMo

Well, NaNoWriMo-vember is over for another year. For those unfamiliar with the process, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel within the month of November. At first, it seems a huge task, but when you break it down to 1667 words a day, or just 4 A4 pages, it’s not really that much.

But what did I learn from NaNoWriMo?

1. I have more time than I thought.
I wrote while at work, and at home in the mornings before I went to work. On a good day, I was writing 3000+ words  (not including Facebook, emails and SSSF.)

2. I have a lot of knowledge stored in my head.
At the beginning of the novel, my characters are in Bali. I visited Bali almost a year ago, during Christmas/New Year. I put a lot of those experiences and places into the novel. There’s also a lot of useless knowledge that didn’t quite make it into this one, but you never know where it will turn up.

3.It’s not that hard
I have several dozens of abandoned stories on my laptop, various other computers and even notebooks around me. I’ve lost interest in them. I lost one of them (a really good one too, dammit!) when my ex and I split up and he got the computer. Once I got started with NaNo, I did get stuck in the second week, just after my characters had met. Where could I go after that? The answer was simple: procrastinate for a week then give them a double crisis. That got the plot moving again and it was smooth sailing. I had a lot to catch up on but one marathon day of writing during a day off from work ensured I was back on track.

4. Finished novels take a lot of work
I had interesting ideas in my head before I started NaNo. One was: it takes forever to write a novel. Bryce Courtenay writes for twelve hours a day. He treats it as a full-time job. He literally writes all day and his novels usually come out a month before Christmas each year. They contain a LOT more than fifty thousand words! In his acknowledgments, he thanks various booky people like his editor, researchers, people who read each chapter and generally gave him inspiration and technical stuff.
My other idea was the actual process of writing. Again, I knew only of Bryce Courtenay and Jackie Collins on this point. They sit and write for hours on end until their novel is done. As previously mentioned, I wrote for maybe three hours at a time before having to do something else (usually go to work). While writing at work, I was constantly interrupted by customers and lost my train of thought. I suppose if I had the luxuries of time and money, I would attempt to write for hours on end as well.

Lastly, I can DO IT!
I got to the 50,000 words during November. I don’t know what will happen with it (truth be told, I haven’t looked at the manuscript since November 30). It requires cleaning up, padding out and editing before I can even think of publishing. As for publishing, it might be that I self publish and sell ebook copies to my friends for $5. There are a lot of local authors here who do book signings at various bookstores around here. Maybe one day, I too can be bored all day while people tell me they’re not interesting in my genre…

Ah, dreams!

Before I finish, one note about April. NaNoWriMo is having a script-writing month in April and while I have the idea for a screenplay, I have no idea how to execute it i.e. what to write on the paper. I have read plays before (I did drama at high school) but it’s been a long time. All I remember is, you don’t add commas to conversations as it’s the director’s duty to decide when the character should pause. But… I’m a writer! I need commas!


December 16, 2010 - Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections

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