Winner winner, [insert preferred food item here] dinner! According to NaNoWriMo, the word count goal was met and festive banners and badges were awarded.
Now that the adrenalin rush has worn off and we’ve had some time to address the hand cramps and potential carpal tunnel issues…
Tackling such an out of the box (for me) writing project after some time away was like jumping out of a plane THEN asking yourself if you’ve got your parachute. Yes, I churned out the words, but trying to write a short story anthology with little prep, was probably not the best idea. When I say this, I mean it was Halloween and I thought, “I’m going to do NaNo this year, but let’s try something completely different.”
Yeesh. That’s not to say that different can’t be done, but I probably should’ve gotten my feet wet with a less ambitious endeavour first. What I learned from this experience amplified what I already knew. Short stories are not to be taken lightly.
I’d grown accustomed to the meandering ways of long form writing with novels–and all the sidetracks where “research” can lead–that I barely had time to fully grasp what I wanted to do with a short story, let alone the half dozen I had bouncing around the month of November.
I discovered that a few of the short story ideas were better suited as novellas or longer. The hours I spent asking myself more questions about the characters and settings took over the actual drafting of scenes. Could it have been due to the lack of preparation? Perhaps. Could it have benefited from a deeper dive into outlining? Most certainly.
To that end, I’m going to reverse engineer what material I’ve amassed for NaNo and give it a proper dissection and analysis. Much like finishing any draft doesn’t mean you’re finished, I feel that pulling apart this monkey bread of an idea will make for richer storytelling in the end. (Great, I now want to bake some monkey bread, but I digress.)
Something important to remember when doing an intense writing challenge is that no word is wasted. You got those words out for a reason, now it’s time to make sense of them and organize them in such a way that can weave an interesting tale for your readers. Trim off the excess but don’t delete anything. You never know when it might come in handy (now, for you, as the writer, or later on as bonus material for the reader). This is the time to continue with what you started and refine it further. Unless you’re a writing aficionado, and you somehow ironed everything out in the first pass, it’s okay and encouraged to get that draft and polish it until you can see it from space.
For those who met their NaNo goals, great! For those who didn’t, how can we plan for success next time? My NaNo experience didn’t go according to the quasi-plan I had. I’m sure what with the 2020 of it all, no one’s months, plural, have been going as planned. And so we enter a new month, but it doesn’t mean we need to shelve it for another NaNo. Keep going while the ideas are fresh and learn from the snags you hit along the way. No writing path is perfect and you’ll find a method that works for you. We’re also part of a greater writing community of like-minded creative types that know that the struggle is indeed real. The continued support of this amazing collective is a great way to keep at it in the days and months to come.
Congrats to everyone who met their goals. For those yet to reach those goals, keep going! What are your writerly plans for December? Share them in the comments below.
Now is the time to stay positive and don’t lose focus. Just because November’s over doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to challenge ourselves. That’s why it’s important to have writing events such as NaNo to serve as a reminder that if we want to be writers, we must write.
As always, stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.
Until next time,