What year is it now? 2016? So the first year I took part in NaNoWriMo was 2005, which will make this year NaNo #12 for me! That’s a lot of words written, and a lot of lessons learned. You’d think after ten years I’d be an expert at it, however despite all my experience, last year was an abject failure for me. We can partly put that down to me being busy with my MSc and a scary time in my pregnancy with Asher, so maybe I wasn’t giving it my all.
Perhaps NaNoWriMo has lost some of it’s thrill for me in recent years. I already know I can write 50,000 words in 30 days. I have a large collection of unfinished/unedited manuscripts that never seem any closer to being read by anyone other than me, and each year I add another to the collection. Motivation has been at an all time low. “What’s the point?” I ask myself. NaNoWriMo is no longer the challenge. I can do 50K with ease, if I can be bothered. So does that mean I’m done with NaNo?
I still get excited every year just before November, eagerly joining in the forums and chatting with fellow wrimos about plans and dreams and the real life that threatens to get in the way of them. I still look forward to NaNoWriMo. I just can’t sustain that motivation through the month anymore.
So what’s a girl to do?
Actually I already know. I need to be honest and redefine what ‘success’ means for me. With 11 NaNos under my belt I have enough of a track record to draw some solid conclusions about which of my attempts were the most satisfying. Success is not another 50K. I’ve got plenty of them. Nor is it 75k. 100k or any other arbitrary word count target. Stumbling across whatever finish line there is with a meandering tangle of a manuscript doesn’t make me feel good any more. All that does is leave me a load more work rewriting that I don’t have time to do!
Success is a first draft I can work with without having to restructure it from the ground up once December comes. Success requires careful thought and planning in advance. Success cannot be ‘pantsed’. I can pants my way to 50k but I can’t feel happy about it at the end. Basically, the stories I’m happiest with are the ones I outlined. The ones languishing is the purgatory of unfinished books are the ones I pantsed. I can’t even look at them. I need happy, well organised books.
So this year I return to my old planning ways. I’m going to try following K.M.Weiland’s guidance in “Outlining your novel”. I’ve done the snowflake method before with some success (NaNoWriMo 2007 – Cold Spell), but I want to try some different techniques. I started following her workbook last year but ended up changing ideas and winging it at the last minute (big mistake!). This year I have the workbook and the ebook that goes with it so we’ll try this again.
Prep for NaNo 2016 officially starts here. I have the beginning of an idea – basically the magical equivalent of a former secret service agent gets stuck protecting a kid from dark forces, but has no idea why anyone wants to hurt them. That’s all I’ve got, so it will be fun to see how the idea grows as I work through the outlining process. If it doesn’t work, I’ve still got most of an outline from last year that I didn’t use to fall back on.
Getting excited about NaNo again this year now. Yay :). Roll on November! But not too fast, I’ve got planning to do first…