Monday, November 5, 2012

The Adventure of NaNoWriMo

And isn't it an adventure? Every year I try Nanowrimo I learn a little something different, about myself as a writer and about my writing style. I learn what I like. What I dislike. I learn more about craft. More about where I want to go. More about myself in general, but the most important lesson - at least in my opinion - that I've learned is, don't force it.  I've noticed a lot of people having trouble with Nanowrimo this year.  I've watched as they've struggled to write a novel, to find a topic, a genre, a style. Wanting to play with new styles, tenses, etc (myself included). I've also noticed that this struggle and desire to find something new has been holding them (again myself included) back from their ultimate goal. So in the spirit of Nanowrimo and a pep talk, I have advice for all my nanowing friends and cohorts, and myself included. Please take it with a grain of salt, and feel free to share your own ideas and advice, or even disagree with me entirely.

Don't force your novel. Don't try and push yourself into a genre that only causes you frustration. Just go with it. I know from experience I write best when working with others. Co-writing has been the key to getting thousands of pages of story out for me and my friends.  I have been taking advantage of this technique in nano, and less than five days in I am well over a quarter of the way there. I also have learned that just writing as the words come to me is key to success. The most words I've ever gotten was when I was in the mood and just feeling what I was writing. I wasn't caring about rather I was going to get published or rather others enjoyed it. I wasn't caring that it wasn't going the way I'd originally planned, but rather had taken wings and gone in it's own direction. Those are my best pages I've ever written.

Write what you like. This may seem counter intuitive, or even counter productive to the statement I just made, but really its not. Here is what I mean. You enjoy something, be it romance, be it literary fiction, horror, or just plain smut. Well then if you're struggling for words, write what you enjoy. The phrase, "Don't fix what's not broken," seems to fit in very well here.  If you enjoy writing something, are confident in writing something, why fix it? You can always learn from what you already know and expound and expand upon that knowledge with new knowledge. Right?

I myself was going to write in a third person, present tense story for the November challenge. That was my goal for Nanowrimo. It was a goal at which I have failed utterly, and for which I will continue to fail. I am comfortable with first person, past, or third person, past. I find I am fairly talented with those as well.  So that is what I'll write.  I wanted to challenge myself, but in that desire I ended up hindering myself, so I quickly gave up. And the words have been flowing naturally since. I haven't felt drained, I haven't felt angry or impatient. Letting my writing come naturally has been allowing me the most satisfaction as a writer.

I know some authors feel shame for not being able to get out of their comfort zone, but most, if not all of us are still aspiring authors.  But I will gander to say, there is no shame in writing what we know. We are still building on our craft, still learning as we go. In fact, Nanowrimo is a challenge to help us do just that. So in the spirit of a pep talk, just have fun! I know that's what I'm doing, and even when I'm frustrated and not getting words out as quickly as I would like, enjoying what I'm writing is helping me. If you are one of those who is able to take something new and reign it in by the horns, FANTASTIC! That is marvelous.  And you should keep doing that, but I think one of the dangers - a trap that many of us fall into - is thinking that we need/have to do something that is outside of our comfort zone or even skill sect, and in the end that just causes anger and frustration.  If Nanowrimo, or writing is not enjoyable, then why are we doing it in the first place!

So now I ask for your responses. Many of you were going to leave your comfort zones and try something new as a writer. How is that going for you? Are you finding success in your endeavors or did you take the same path I did, returning to what I know and enjoy. Are you using a combination of the two? Did you go into a whole different realm entirely? What have you been doing to counteract the stress of writing so many words? And what advice do you have for other's who are participating in Nanowrimo?

To leave off, I think my greatest piece of advice is, have fun, because if you aren't having fun, then what's the point?



  1. I am the same way in that I feel the best pages I write are the ones I write for myself (for my own pleasure and enjoyment). In writing for pleasure I tap into what intrigues me and, quite often, those things are also intriguing to others, thereby making my writing accessible to an audience. But audience aside, I think that writing what you know - or drawing upon the 'old faithfuls' really is a good idea. And I definitely felt trapped by my desire to try out horror. I think that when it comes down to it, I don't cleave to horror so much as 'Sword and Sorcery' and Science Fiction. That is what I'm going to focus on from here on out and I have a few fun ideas that I am going to write as short stories first and then expand on them later if they have some real promise. ^^

  2. I for one am doing surprisingly well for my NaNo project this year. I stepped away from my comfort zone and am really enjoying myself. I chose to write a suspense novel, more for myself than for the masses. I wanted to see if I could do it, and so far, just finishing with day 5, I am just a smidge over 33,000 words. I enjoy getting glimpses into the minds of various characters: victim, villain, sheriff, deputy, FBI agent. There are so many facets to these characters and I am having a ball with it.

    1. Awesome. I am really glad that stepping out of your comfort zone worked for you. I love love love writing suspense. It's my favorite genre, and the research for it is amazing. That is why the novel I am working on is suspense thriller. I also love the psychology behind all the characters in such a novel. So I'm very glad that it is working out. This post wasn't so much to discourage getting out of the comfort zone - though I'm not implying that to be the meaning of your words - but rather to remind people that if they can't write out of their comfort zone, not to force it. Nano happens three times a year, and we grow every day. I myself was not ready to change my tenses and leave my comfort realm yet. I have tried a new genre, focusing on literary fiction and that's fun, but suspense will always be my favorite. Oh, and smutty sci-fi.

    2. Ain't nuthin' wrong with some smutty sci-fi, mmmhmmm. *said in best Sling Blade voice possible* XD