Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Nanowrimo Now What?

YAY!!! You survived! Or maybe I shouldn’t make any assumptions, there.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say you survived and now have a rough draft (maybe very, very, very rough draft) of about 50,000 words.

What next?

Well, first of all, did you write to “The End”? Because if not, then you may have survived, but you’re not done. You must get through to The End, no matter how rough it is (rough meaning the process AND the pages…). If you did not get to The End, I would strongly urge that you NOT take a break, no matter how tired you are (well, maybe a day). You can slow down your schedule, set a lower per-day word or page count, but do not stop. Write every day, or every other day if that’s your schedule, but get the sucker done.

You may end up throwing away most of what you write, but it is a really, really, really bad idea not to get all the way through a story. That is how most books, scripts and probably most all other things in life worth doing are abandoned.

Conversely, if you DID get all the way to “The End”, then definitely, take a breakAs long a break as possible. You should keep to a writing schedule, start brainstorming the next project, maybe do some random collaging to see what images come up that might lead to something fantastic - but if you have a completed draft, then what you need right now is SPACE from it. You are going to need fresh eyes to do the read-through that is going to take you to the next level, and the only way for you to get those fresh eyes is to leave the story alone for a while.

So, first, no matter where you are in the process, celebrate! You showed up and have the pages to show for it.

Then - 

1. Keep going if you’re not done


2. Take a good long break if you have a whole first draft, and if you MUST think about writing, maybe start thinking about another project.

And in the meantime, I’d love to hear how you all who were Nanoing did.

Me? I bashed my way through to the end of Cold Moon, the third in my Huntress Moon series (with LOTS of research trips in Northern California along the way....) Of course it's not as done as I want it to be, but I managed to get through that "I will NEVER finish this bloody thing" stage into the "Wow, I may not be done yet but this is way too good to abandon now" stage, which is not exactly the home stretch yet but it is a major corner to turn.  A good month!

- Alex


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Maureen Harrington said...

Hi Alex,

I finished NaNoWriMo on the 25th with 52,035 words. Thanks for all your great advice.


Maureen Harrington said...

I want to say a very special thank you to Alex. Over the past few years she and others in the writing community have encouraged me and cheered me on. That kept me working on learning how to use the iMac speech to text that was built into my new computer. My chewing gum tipped chopsticks that I brought to Arizona from Children's Hospital in Boston in 2005 made it possible for me to write—but too difficult to write more than a few hundred words per day.

Alex encouraged me in her engaging as well as her no-nonsense way. I am sure that she and other authors would downplay the credit I am giving to her and them now. It is too easy to think I would have gone and done it on my own—with my own power of perseverance, but I do not think I would have. People give me much too much credit for persevering.

My inability to write consistently and to produce a finished product in a timely manner led directly to my having to leave my doctoral program and having to take disability leave from my job—my career. That was over. I could no longer do that.

When I started commenting on blogs that Alex and other authors took part in, I was in the worst emotional place I had ever been in. But Alex and company let me rant and rage as if that were the thing to do. I could not have gotten through that time without them, because I had left my support system back in Boston. I had lived at my place of work since I started there as a student in 1992. I had to leave. I foolishly took my doctors advice and went to a warmer place. I had no idea what that would do to my ability to carry on without a community.

Several years after my move west, I discovered the writing community. That tangential relationship held me together for a long time. I want to credit Alex and that community now—here.

My accomplishment of finishing NaNoWriMo may not seem like much to anyone reading this. I know that. For me though it is a huge milestone. Learning how to use the built-in iMac speech to text made it physically possible for me to write all those words—a huge number that I was unable to do before and could not reasonably think about finishing a book in my lifetime.

Thank you, Alex and all your writer friends and colleagues for taking me seriously. I love you.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Reine, you're very welcome, but YOU did it, in a way that most people don't have the fortitude to do.

You found Murderati and this blog, you very actively engaged with the authors and other commenters, you never hesitated to ask questions - you made yourself a vital and loved part of the online writing community WHILE you were learning to write. Anyone could do that, but in my experience very, very few people figure that out and have the guts to put themselves out there to strangers.

That would be a huge accomplishment on its own, but you were also mastering a complex new technology and grappling with immense physical challenges. You use your own innate power, you don't complain, you don't ask anyone to do it for you, and you also know that NONE of us could make it without the community.

In short - you're a pro.

I am beyond proud of you. xxxxx

Maureen Harrington said...

Alex— thank you. <3 xo