Failing NaNoWriMo 2009 and What I Learned From the Experience
Well, it’s now December 1st, and my word count stands still at only a 5th of what’s required to complete NaNoWriMo during the month of November.
When I started, I was determined to get through this and finish it. It was the first time that I actively participated, and I was all fired up and ready to go. At first, it seemed fairly easy. I just started writing. No pre-planning, no pre-thought. I wrote a few hundred words, just to see what came out.
What I got was this speculative fiction story that was looking like it belonged, I guess, in the realm of what they now call urban or contemporary fantasy. No vampires or werewolves! …although, I did get an idea for something like that as well….
Once I finished a whole chapter I got stuck. The one chapter led me to so many different questions about the characters I’d introduced and the setting and etc etc etc, that I couldn’t move for a little while. I didn’t know where to go. So I went back and tried to test write some origin material for who I thought was the main character…and that grew out of control as well.
I’m not saying any of this to be disparaging, I found the discovery process enormously enjoyable. However, I started to spend more time thinking these things out instead of writing them. Once I started to do that, that’s when I started losing ground. Because I don’t like writing. I find it a very tedious and complicated process. Yes, I love creating, and I love stories and I love the finished product…but I hate the actual finger to keyboard, writing process.
And then I got sick…
I got sick with the flu and was pretty much out of it for an entire week. During this time, I typed not one sentence, word or letter. I could have, but I just didn’t feel like it. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I spent that whole week hopped up on cold medicine, sleeping, rarely eating and, during my coherent moments, reading the Gathering Storm. But I did do quite a bit of thinking about my story. I was going to switch the main character or at least have two main ones, and I was going to start the story with her rather than him. I was also going to blah blah blah and lots of other things too.
That sickness completely ruined my momentum. Once it was over, I realized that I was so hopelessly behind, that I gave up hope of ever finishing before the end of the month. Of course, I didn’t know then that I’d given up hope, but with that forward movement suddenly not there anymore, it just became more thought on what I wanted to and was going to do, but no action to back it up.
And that’s where it stood, until sometime in the last few days when I realized that I wasn’t going to have one of those moments where I pump out thousands of words in fever pitch. And I resigned myself to writing out this post about how I utterly failed NaNoWriMo 2009.
Make no mistake, although I did not finish, this has been an awesome learning experience for me. I know what I’ll have to do next year to finish, and I am not abandoning the story that I started. I learned about my own pacing, about thinking certain things through, about what I can plan for and what I just gotta let flow. I learned that the first rough draft does not count at all, not in the least, so it really is true that you should just write it all the way through and get it over with. The real writing comes after that.
There are also lessons I learned that I can’t put into words, maybe when I have a bit more skill 😛
Also, while I was sick and thinking about my story, I came to several personal epiphanies as well. Realizations about who I am, what I want, what I lack and some understanding of what I once thought of as the vagaries of my own life.
Yea…NaNoWriMo did that for me 🙂
…and I guess the flu gets some credit too 😛