I Did NaNoWriMo and All I Got was this Lousy First Draft

“LET ME OUT, YOU $**@&!!”

*shoulder thuds repeatedly against door, which finally crashes open*

In case you were wondering, that was my highly offended inner editor, who was locked away during the entire month of November as I participated in the insanity known as NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to puke out a 50,000-word novel (roughly 175 pages) in a month. I finished today, and it feels darn good.

Here’s the lovely badge I earned.

Everyone who reaches the 50,000-word mark by November 30 is considered a winner. The use of the word winner in conjunction with a first draft barfed out in thirty days is quite a stretch, and my draft is no exception. There are plenty o’ drawbacks to writing like your pants are on fire. For one, I had to ice my wrists. My family already thinks I’m a little coo-coo, but the visual of me sitting at the computer with bags of frozen edamame on my wrists pretty much sealed the deal.

The hardest part? With the high daily word count goal, there was no time to revise. And let me tell you, that was painful. PAINFUL. My plot and character motivations changed a few chapters in. Halfway through the novel, I ditched my antagonist. I started using a second point of view. Left plot holes the size of Rhode Island. My inner editor was so outraged at being locked away, I could feel her red Sharpie gouging at my brain, desperate to break free and clean house on that mess of a manuscript.

But for as blucky as that splooged out draft is, I’m feeling rather smitten with its potential. Even though it needs a serious overhaul, I’m digging the story and characters enough to spend hours and weeks and months with them. My inner editor is going to have one heck of a field day.

Now the real work begins.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo this year! How was your experience?


Guess Who’s NOT Invited to Participate in NaNoWriMo?

This blog might be a little on the quiet side for the month of November, as I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, or as it’s known in the writing community, NaNoWriMo.

The goal of NaNoWriMo (other than having an obnoxious acronym) is to write a 50,000 word (175 page) novel by November 30. It takes a certain level of insanity to accomplish this, but it is doable. Over 35,000 people accomplished this goal during the 2011 NaNoWriMo.

Let’s be honest. A novel created in thirty days is going to reek of dingleberries. But that’s sort of the point. Because of the ticking clock, you have to crank out an average of 1,700 words a day. There’s no time for that pesky inner editor to criticize your purple prose or your character’s motivation. Besides, true writing happens in the revisions, anyway.

For me, writing my very first draft was like opening a door to a world I never knew existed. The words flowed like magic. While most of those words weren’t any good, I didn’t care because I was having so much fun.

Now, after multiple revisions, immersing myself in writing workshops, critique groups, and finding out how bloody hard it is to get published, I’ve learned a few things. The inner editor who lurks inside me sits there with her red sharpie, dying to tell me that the sentence I’ve written doesn’t move the story forward. She points out all the things I’m doing wrong, reminding me that agents and editors are so inundated, if my first page doesn’t sparkle with brilliance and a unique voice, they won’t get to page two. My inner editor is well aware of the components of a successful novel – compelling characters, intriguing plot, inciting incident. Macro and micro tension. High stakes. Themes. Subplots. A crisis, climax and satisfying resolution. Character arcs. Limited backstory. Original metaphors. No cliché. Internal and external conflict. It’s crazy-making.

I’m not trying to bash my inner editor. I’m glad she knows stuff, and it comes in handy with my critique partners and during revisions. But if I listen to her when I’m drafting, she’ll sap the life right out of the creative process.

That’s the beauty of NaNoWriMo. Thanks to the looming deadline and the necessity of churning out so many words a day, there’s simply no room for that inner editor.

I’m excited to jump into a brandy-new manuscript. My current MS (WRECTIFY) is sitting on my agent’s desk, hoping for the chance to go out on submission in the near future. That whole process and the lack of control involved is also crazy-making, so immersing myself in NaNoWriMo is very appealing. The working title of my new project is LUNA PARK, and it’s about a haunted amusement park. For you Denver folks, think Lakeside on the dark side. Aren’t you curious about what’s inside this tower? I can’t wait to write about it. And guess what, inner editor? You’re not invited. Neener, neener, neener!

 Anyone else out there doing NaNo?