What Did I Win?

1 Dec

So another November has passed and I cranked out 50k words on #nanowrimo. I feel good that I did it, and have another first draft under my belt, but I’m not sure I “won” anything. Why do I keep coming back to this little contest?

Part of me really like gamification — I had a word goal to reach every day to reach – with the ultimate goal of cranking out a novella, which as mentioned previously, is where my stories live. I like having graphs and technical details and little goals to keep me honest. NaNoWriMo really does a great job at providing all that, and even if there were some things in the website remod that I didn’t like (can’t follow your buddies without some effort), it’s still got the basics.

However, getting a novel done in a month is only the start of the work. As I learned last time, just because you crank out 50k words doesn’t mean you have a working story at the end. I tried doing the Camp NaNoWriMo last July and succeeded… but only realized before I finished that my story really didn’t have a plot! Whoops.

The real advantage is this contest is that it forces you to actually write. So many times, you call yourself a writer, you do a lot of prep work or talking about writing, but you don’t actually put word one on a blank sheet of (virtual) paper. I can be sure every November that I make time to actually get some writing done.

This is the fourth time I’ve managed to win NaNoWriMo out of eight times, which is pretty amazing and curious. Out of the previous three, I’ve published all of them (two of them were Fatebane sequels, which write themselves, and the other was Defending Our Sacred Honor, which although I wrote in 2013, only got published this year). One of the other failures happened because I failed to backup 20k into the project and lost all interest–as a result, I use Google Docs for all drafts now–but the other three were just… not well planned. I didn’t go in with a plan, got bored, or realized I didn’t really have a good idea of where I wanted to go with the story.

“Pantsing” is what I prefer to do, but I always, always, always do better with an outline. If this particular work-in-progress has taught me anything, it’s that. Yes, “Choking on Butterfly Blood” is still a WIP, because although I’m at 64k words, I’m still three scenes from the end. This will end up being a full novel, and I’m really thrilled. However, I’m really looking forward to sharing my ultratech sci-fi mystery novel with the world!

Have you had a good NaNoWriMo experience? Have you had a bad one? Do you do better with an outline or better in scattered brainstorming? Let me know in the comments below!

2 Responses to “What Did I Win?”

  1. Anthony Garner December 1, 2020 at 10:15 am #

    Interesting, although I imagine the greatest problem an author faces is acquiring readers?

  2. spwilcen December 1, 2020 at 11:57 am #

    Pleasant read. I’ve taken pains to avoid the NoNoWriteYaddaYadda three times. The first time I bumped into it looking for a good authors’ website, later twice when folk who have read my work suggested I go at it. Fancy I write when my characters call, when a plot or plot perversion springs from my skull, or most productively when I am amused by life. Amused? Maybe entertained is better – which allows humor, rancor, anger, and melancholy among other moods. Volume is never an issue for me, nor writer’s block, so long as my project is genuine. NaNoSomething seems to me contrived. Can’t fault success though, so if that’s your expressway, good deal. Just keep at it. So long as your efforts to create published “stuff” doesn’t idle your blog. I’d miss it.

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