I thought I’d compile a brief list of the things I learned from NaNoWriMo2017 this year. Perhaps some of these observations will help others. I’d love to hear what you learned in the comments section. Link your own blogs if you’d like!
- Good days / bad days – some days were better than others. I didn’t write every single day between Nov and 1 and when I finished on the 23rd, but I did write for the majority of them and some days the words flowed easier than others.
- Just like in athletics, a warm-up is important. I found that the first few paragraphs or lines of dialog were rough, but I soon found a rhythm. Keeping at it is the key.
- I believe each person has a productive part of the day. And it is worth discovering. When I was in college, it was late nights. Now that I’m in my 40s I find that early mornings are my time. I begin to shut down creatively after around noon most days. It was important to use that creative time wisely when I could.
- Once you’re rolling, the words add up fast.
- Write for the plot line / characters that speak to you that day. Some days I just couldn’t get my mind engaged with one set of characters but I soon found that another set inspired me and were easy to write. Don’t fight it, work with what feels good.
- Scrivener rocks!
- Variety is the spice of life. I found myself wanting to work on other writing projects this month but just felt like I needed to dedicate the time to my NaNoWriMo project. Now that I’m done I’m excited to return to some other ideas that I’ve had.
- Twitter was a good source of encouragement as well as a significant distraction! It’s a very supportive community. See #nanowrimo2017
- Finish what ya started – one of my main personal goals this month was to commit to something and finish it. My primary goal was finishing NaNoWriMo (hitting the 50,000 word mark). My secondary goal was to jump start a WiP that’s been sitting around in my brain and in my house for years. I doubted that I would finish the first draft (and I didn’t) but that’s okay – I more than doubled its word count and am ready to take it to the next stage.
Winning NaNoWriMo was a great experience and I’ll be participating again next year, I’m sure. Maybe I’ll be working on Book 2 in the series!
At NaNoWriMo2017 that is! Finished the 50,000 word goal this morning (and Happy Thanksgiving everyone). So I’m at around 100,000 in my work in progress. Overall goal is around 120,000 words so that I have room for some editing. Generally fantasy novels are 90,000-120,000 words, so that’s the range I’m shooting for.
Anyway, thrilled to have finished. I had several goals in mind when I started on November 1. I wanted to jump start myself back into creative writing and a daily word challenge seemed like a good way to do that. I also wanted a distraction from my musical hobby, and this project did that very well. I’ve also worked on this novel idea for many years, off and on, and I felt like I really wanted to commit to it and give the piece the attention it deserves.
I’m really excited about the novel. It is set in a world that I’ve contemplated for many years. This a post-apocalyptic setting based on a natural disaster that plunges your typical fantasy world into a mini ice age. At the time of this book the ice age is ending and men, orcs, elves and dragons are beginning to re-explore the world around them. An unlikely group of heroes come together to combat a reawakening evil while traveling through the devastated landscape.
I’ve also got a few ideas for some future books set in this world – in fact I have a significant amount of work done in a series that takes place some decades after the current novel. I also have a series of short story ideas that will fit around these books. Ultimately I’d like to see two trilogies and several stand alone novels and short stories. That’s many years into the future, I’m sure. And it assumes a certain amount of success.
I’m going to continue writing for this novel, but I’m also going to refocus on some other stories and tasks. I have a flash fiction piece called “Lives Not Lived” that I’ve submitted to six places (three of which have rejected it so far). I believe I have several other places that I can submit it to. I’ll do that this weekend. I also have a series of short stories that are unrelated to anything else that I want to work with. Two are meant to be humorous and a third is much more dark and serious. I’m excited to be giving them some attention.
So that’s my catch up post. I’ll be posting some more content regularly now and I hope to be putting up useful information as well. Maybe I’ll summarize what I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo at some point soon.
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I recently attended a CSWriters group and met Jeff Gerke. I listened to him speak about his new book, “Hack Your Reader’s Brain.” The book sounded fascinating and even though Jeff had summarized it in his presentation, I bought a copy for myself.
It’s a quick read – 66 pages – but well worth your while. Jeff starts out with a humorous exploration of his past teachings on writing, wondering why incredibly poorly written novels can be so successful. While reading Amazon reviews he discovered there is a difference between what the common reader believes is quality as compared to a more judgmental editor/reader.
Much of the book is built around studies done to explore the chemical reaction of movie viewer’s bodies against what they’re watching. He then suggests very similar techniques for authors.
The result is that the book helps articulate strategies that authors can implement to help their work be more attractive, attention-catching and attention-holding. I took note of the built-in exercises Jeff suggests and am trying them out within the context of this month’s NaNoWriMo2017 rather than using them as independent tasks. So far I’m happy with his suggestions and will continue to keep his ideas in mind as I write.
The book is inexpensive, short, direct and effective. What else do you need?
Comments welcome below or at dmgwrites on Twitter.