An Overview of NaNoWriMo 2013

Welcome to December! And you know what that means? NaNoWriMo 2013 is over. It is with equal measures of relief and sadness that I wave goodbye to one of the most prolific and fun months of my writing life. During the thirty days of November, I wrote a grand total of 93,064 words and wrote the entire first draft of my novel, A STOLEN THRONE, from start to finish.

Writing that much in a month was actually less exhausting than I expected it to be. It was actually rather exhilarating, and each day's word count created another layer of momentum that pushed me through the end of the month. And yet, when I typed up the final sentence of my story, I felt very...odd. It was a good feeling, but it didn't feel like a huge moment of triumph. There weren't fireworks, and no one threw me a parade. Even so, I keep reminding myself that it's a HUGE accomplishment.

It's thrilling to know that I can write an entire first draft of a novel in only one month, even while working full time. It makes me feel like I can do anything. And since I have absolutely zero patience for the often recommended "chilling period" for a new MS, I started prepping for revisions on December 1st. I know, I know, you're supposed to let it sit for a month. But what can I say, I have no patience for such things. I want to focus all my creative energy on this piece until it is query ready and then start my next project. Right or wrong, that's how my brain works, so that's what I'm going to do.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be an overview of NaNo, so I'll circle back to that. I didn't write every day in November. Overall I skipped six days of writing; so, I suppose you could say I wrote my novel in 24 non-consecutive days. My best writing day was 6.6K words and my slowest was only 400 (Thanksgiving day), bringing my daily average to somewhere around 3,875 which is nothing to sneeze at. But the thing that made NaNo so much fun this year was my characters.

It's strange how someone you made up in your head ends up feeling like a real person. When I try to explain that to non-readers/non-writers, they often don't understand. But -at least for me, other writers may feel differently- characters become their own people, and the things they say and do don't feel like they come from me. That's why when I laugh at something my characters do, I don't feel like I'm laughing at something I made up. It feels like laughing at any character from any book or show, which is a really cool feeling.

Another cool thing about NaNo is that it forces me to learn more about my personal writing process, and I learned a lot about myself in the past month. I now know that I work well with a loose outline with a target ending, and that I have to do pre-writing World Building and pre-revision World Building, which is pretty neat. I also have an eight step revision process for initial revisions, and I'm sure after this novel goes to beta readers (after that initial revision), I'll learn more about what my subsequent revising process looks like.

In fact, I may actually write-up a blog series on my writing and revising process. *ponders a bit* Why, yes I think I'll do that. If nothing else, it'll be interesting for me to look back at it a few years from now to see how much is the same or different.

Overall, I'm beyond excited to dive into the nitty-gritty of revisions. I already printed out my novel (all 326 pages), and I read a few lines here and there as I put the pages into a binder. There were multiple times where I laughed aloud at some of the things my thief character did or said. She's so sarcastic and hilarious; I can't wait to read the whole thing as the next step in my revision process.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know I am a revision nut. Heck, I almost like revising more than the initial drafting stage! And this novel, while it definitely has its issues, is going to be infinitely easier to revise that last year's novel (which was my First Novel Ever, and therefore a huge train wreck). So far I've only made my revision index cards, but even from doing that, I feel fairly certain that the general plot is going to stay the same. The main issues stem from dropped subplots and character inconsistencies (and line edits of course, but that comes last). Overall, I think the structure of the story is sound, and I'm so happy that I don't have any "sit around and think about stuff while sipping tea" scenes.

Anyway, I think that's enough rambling about NaNo and revisions. Stay tuned for future updates for A STOLEN THRONE and a blog series about my writing process (probably in a few months when I'm almost done with revisions).

And to all my fellow writers out there, write on!

-Isabel