What I learned in November.

There, a nice general blanket title.  I’m terrible at coming up with titles, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.  And as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I spent the month of November writing 50,000 words towards the draft zero of a novel.  Never having been the most regular or prolific writer in the past, begging out to a lack of inspiration or time, I have found the past month most enlightening.  I would like to recount the things that I have learned, that they may help other aspirants to the craft of fiction.  Or something.

I. Keep it basic

And what I mean by that is, don’t sweat the details.  Sure, world-building is crucial and there are many factors to keep in mind as you tell your story.  But there is nothing wrong with writing a skeleton draft.  Figure out the details as you go, and anything you missed you an always fill in on the next revision.  Throughout the entire month, whenever I started to orbit around a niggling piece of minutae, I had to remind myself that I could fill it in later.

II. Dedication and Discipline!

I have the luxury of free time this month, as my paying job is part-time at the moment.  Never mind that, because I am dedicated to the art of procrastination.  I can always find something else that I could be doing, rather than writing.  Some video game, some episode, Twitter or wasted hours on the internet.  The coffee shop that I write in is lovely and distraction free.  No music, no wifi and a very nice, spacious layout.  Leaving the house, laptop in tow, means that I have made a decision to write.  So when I get there, even though I may doddle about or chat, eventually I will write something.

III. Bad Words!

Every novel, short story, etc… goes through at least a few drafts, if not dozens.  It has been said that a story is never finished, it is only released into the world in its most refined state.  That state won’t happen the first time you write.  You have to write the bad words to find the ones that you can’t believe you actually wrote.  So just write it.  As a harsh self-editor, it took work to just let it out.  But I did it, and I have most of a draft of a novel to prove it.  So let the bad words out.

IV.  Planning

Notes, outline, dramatis personae are all very important things when starting a novel.  I had the barest fragment when I started this, just the scene of a girl in an abandoned and overgrown city.  I wrote two pages, then didn’t touch it for nearly six months.  When I was trying to think of a new idea for Wrimo, I found it again.  I spent a couple months building the world, getting a rough sketch of the characters and the general threads of the plot.  I outlined the first twelve chapters, and then I sat down and began writing.  When I ran out of outline, I just figured out the next handful of chapters ahead.  So on, so forth until I figured out the ending.  I’m still trying to get there, actually.

But November has passed, and as a writer I feel most accomplished.  I have two-thirds of a working draft, a better idea of where the story is going and moreover, I learned my capabilities as a writer.  Hopefully what I learned can help you.  Or just make you nod.  I finished NaNoWriMo with 50,249 words, and have a nifty certificate to print and frame.


One thought on “What I learned in November.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Justin M, Matt Maenpaa. Matt Maenpaa said: What I learned in November.: http://t.co/T7IvKBq […]

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