Why I Will Be Losing At Nanowrimo Again This Year

I really like nanowrimo a lot. I have tried it a few times but only reached the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month once. Last year I managed it, getting to the target word count a couple of days early but in previous years the attempts have fizzled out. It is hard to fit that kind of writing in without making some big concessions elsewhere. Last year was the most concerted effort I have ever given it, and it was nice to know that it was possible. I will give it another good shot this year, but I think I learned a few things about myself as a writer during last years nanowrimo and I want to keep them in mind.

There are a lot of reasons for trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days, but the reason I had last year was to get a chunk of a first draft written of a novel that I was very serious about. In fact, it is a novel that I was so serious about that I am still working on it now. And while I did manage to get a lot of writing done, afterwards, when I was looking at what I had, it was actually a lot less than the word count might suggest. Too much of what I had written simply wasn’t good enough, and not that it was just in need of a second draft and a tidy up. A lot of it was just wrong. So my second draft is essentially a second first draft.

Writing that many words in that short a time doesn’t come naturally to me. My average work count is usually about 600 words in a sitting, which really isn’t that many. But often the time I have available in a day yields about that many words. 50,000 words in a month is about 1700 words a day, which I can do, but I found that I started to hit diminishing returns.

There were some benefits to writing that wildly. I discovered a lot about the story and the characters. Some elements of the story emerged without me knowing they were there, and they have ended up being integral to how I am writing it now. I feel like I have a much greater connection to the characters. I feel like I know them better. And I think I know where I went wrong with the nano draft. I think I know what it is about the tone that doesn’t work, and that is a very useful thing to know. So while almost none of what I wrote last year is being retained, it was an essential part of what the book is becoming.

So what to do with this years nano? Well I don’t want to work on this book again, and I don’t want to try and write a new novel as I am currently very involved in this one. So I am going to be doing a little cheat and this year I will be writing a series of short stories. I have a few ideas queued up to get me started, and then I am just going to do some more of that wild writing and see what comes of it. If I can come out of November with a couple of drafts that I can work into something more finished it will have been okay. And I just really like joining in with nanowrimo. I don’t have much of a writing community, I have been meaning to try and join a writers group for ages but never seem to get around to it. Nano makes me feel like I’m in the thick of it with everyone else. So that’s what I’ll be doing, but I also won’t be too worried about the daily or monthly word count. If I fall a bit short, that’s okay, because some days just sitting at my computer and writing my 600 words feels like a real achievement.

In other news, I have a new short story up at The Dime Show Review called A Stranger in Your World. Go check it out, and while you’re there, have a look around. I really like this journal. They have some great shorts, as well as audio, and ten word stories typed on vintage typewriters, which I absolutely adore. They are gorgeous little things.

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