I think I may be finally reaching the way down deep bottom of the valley that came on November 28th. That was the day that I hit 50,000 words. I started on November 1 and made just under 52,000 by the end of November. And what a rush! But, oh, what a fall that comes after you hit that 50,000 words.
After spending 30 straight days with your budding novel, you are suddenly free from any solid goals. And without any new ones, you are likely to stagnate. You’ll read a few people who claim that taking the month of December off can be good. It gives you a bit of space from the act of writing the novel and gives your mind some time to digest it fully and begin to weave in new threads that will allow you to finish the novel. (That may be true, actually.)
But, if you’ve just spent 30 days of solid writing, don’t just stop altogether. I did, and wish I hadn’t. I went from averaging over 1500 words a day to only writing 1500 in the entire month. (Unless you count blog posts like this one. It’s a different category for me.) I should have picked up on some other story or started something new. The effect here is that I now have to try and force myself back into the flow of things. Ugh.
Enough meandering around that though.
Reflecting back on NaNoWriMo 2009, there are several amazingly good things that came out of it for me. Of course, the most important and amazing of it all is that I won by writing 50,000 words. I also learned some very important things about my self and my work as a writer. I’ve written, off and on, for many years, but never with any seriousness. And I am very much still an amateur. There is so much to this writing thing that I don’t know and that I need to know. I’m positive that I’ve only scratched the surface of it.
I used to think that writing was just something you did. That very little thought should go into it and it will just flow along on it’s own and come out the other end perfect. Boy, was I delusional. There are moments where the story and its characters flow right off the ends of your fingers and you don’t even have to think about what’s going on to write it. They are not nearly as frequent as they should be. And the end result after 50,000 words and 30 days? Trash. Well, not literally. I have no intention of actually trashing the thing. But, as I read back over it, there are plot holes everywhere, expansive gaps that leave me wondering just where the plot went. Some of the dialogue is spectacular (If I say so myself), but quite a bit of it is very rough and clumsy. There are vast sections of the novel where I do a great bit of telling without one speck of showing. And there are more than one character who turned out flat.
Looking at that long list, I have to remind myself that the inner editor in us all will be the most critical of any editor.
And after it’s all said and done, I’m thankful for the experience. And it may take me until next October to be forgettful enough of the whole thing to be crazy enough to try that hectic schedule again. But, I probably will. After all, writing is what it’s all about, and that’s the fun part.
If you’d like to read up on NaNoWriMo, you can visit their site at http://www.nanowrimo.org