Friday, September 23, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

Last year was my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, which takes place November 1st through November 30th. This year is the 13th year of the event, and I'll be participating again. Writers either seem to love or hate NaNoWriMo for many reasons. I loved it because it made me focus on a goal, and taught me lessons I wouldn't otherwise have learned.

I learned that I'm a panster, and while this is okay for some writers, I found out that I need to learn plotting, especially when it comes to time lines. I also learned that I CAN write every single day and stick to a schedule while making sure my family doesn't starve to death. Since I have two teenage sons this was something I was concerned about:)

I also have some advice about making NaNowriMo an enjoyable event instead of a stressful one. Decide how much you want to participate in the events, the forums, and on social media, then stick with it or cut back if you find you are visiting more than writing. UNLESS you want to focus on that aspect more than trying to meet a writing goal. The point is if you chat all day with other writers it's hard to get the writing done, but if all you do is the writing and never interact with other people it kind of defeats the purpose of the entire event. Does that make sense? I found meeting my goals THEN interacting with my writer peeps was a good way to go.

My other advice is something they mention on the NaNoWriMo website and I found it to be true. Write. Don't edit. You can research and plot ahead of time, and even during the month if you need to, but NO editing. After the month is finished you'll hopefully have a first draft or at least part of one, and then you can go back and edit.

Lastly, my advice is to work consistently, and have fun. If you become so goal oriented that it makes you hard to live with during November, then something is wrong. Look at your goal, change your habits and lighten up, or else you're going to end up hating the experience.

I haven't updated my page from last year yet, so you can see how I did here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/673500 If you already have a page please add me as a "Buddy".

Have you participated in NaNoWriMo before? Did you enjoy it?

Brenda Hyde has been a freelance writer of home and garden articles for over 20 years, and now she's also writing paranormal romance through short stories and novellas. You can find her at the Wayfaring Writer blog here: http://moonsanity.blogspot.com/.


Tina Donahue said...

Informative blog, Brenda. I've never participated in this...I kind of live it everyday and have ever since I started writing. :)

Sarah J. McNeal said...

You certainly said a lot in this post, Brenda.
I'm a plotter, so I advocate it but some do well at pansing--just not me.
Good advice about write; don't edit. I have a tendancy to edit as I write and sometimes it stops me from moving forward. I think it's better to keep that forward motion then go back and edit.
I found your statement about writing vs interaction very important. That's where I'm at right now. I spent so much time online interacting that my writing suffered. I even went through a bout of writer's block. I had to make a decision about what was important and backed off so much online chat. I have finished every project I had been working on since then and now have new projects brewing. It was the best decision I ever made.
Great blog, Brenda.

Brenda Hyde said...

Tina-- I need to live it everyday and haven't been. I let distractions get to me badly:(

Sarah-- learning to juggle everything is so hard. I increased my nonfiction freelance stuff to help pay the bills and I really need to get a strict schedule going for writing. I tend to multi-task which seems okay for nonfiction but I noticed my WIPs need my FULL attention.

Adele Dubois said...

Brenda--Since I write full-time, I haven't felt the need to participate in this event. The concept kinda' freaks me out, though. It's just not structured enough for my writing process.

Best of luck with your career.


jean hart stewart said...

Interesting, but I still don't wanna do it. I write every day anyway, and the idea of so much pressure freaks me out. Wonderful if you can do it and enjoy it though.

Brenda Hyde said...

It's not for everyone. I had a blast doing it last year, and this year I think I'll actually do some plotting ahead of time:) Sarah and Tina have had a good influence on me. LOL