Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Is Complete!

As I clicked the button to validate my NaNoWriMo novel on Sunday, two thoughts were running through my head. On the one hand, I was really proud of myself for completing the grueling challenge of writing a fifty-thousand word novel in a month. On the other hand, I was kicking myself for waiting four years to participate in NaNoWriMo again after first completing the challenge in 2007.

I approached things a little differently this time around, though. Whereas in 2007 I had only the roughest idea what I was going to be writing about, I went into NaNoWriMo 2011 with a plan. I had a strong vision for the main characters and the world I wanted to create, and I had a general outline for the arc of the story. That outline, though I deviated greatly from it several times, kept me true to the vision I had when I started the book, and led to a more coherent story overall, in my opinion. When I wrote my final words on November 26th, I had shattered the fifty-thousand word mark by eight thousand and change, and I was satisfied with how the story turned out. Don’t get me wrong--there is a lot of editing and rewriting to be done before the book is ready to see the light of day, but it’s a solid first draft to work from.

There is something so great about pushing yourself to write at a breakneck pace, never stopping to edit or second guess until you cross the finish line. Every day of NaNoWriMo is filled with unfettered creativity--I just go, because I can’t afford not to. And when I do that for an extended period of time, I realize just how often I have gotten in the way of my own creativity in the past. I have dozens of story ideas and half-finished pitches that have sat in obscurity because I pick them apart before I even get started. Case in point--the NaNoWriMo novel I just wrote is based on an idea I had for a comic in 2008 that never came to fruition.

I can say without reservation that both times I have participated in NaNoWriMo have been two of the most unique creative experiences I have ever had. Even more important to me than the experiences themselves is the lesson they reinforce--get out of your own way and create.