Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
I hope you had a wonderful NaNoWriMo, and a wonderful Thanksgiving if you celebrate (and a safe Black Friday weekend)!
My holiday was lovely, spent with family I hadn't seen in a little while. And, of course, the food was great. (And I unabashedly ate at least seven paleo pumpkin muffins, and was all the happier for it.)
Every year that I do NaNo, I try to write up a post about what I learned from the month of writing. So...here I am to present to you the "What I Learned From NaNoWriMo" post for 2016! Enjoy!
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I am happy to say that this is my first completed NaNoWriMo in the last three years (with 57,700, and a little over halfway completed project). In 2014 I didn't finish, and in 2015 I decided not to participate after a few days. And while it was good for me to sit out those years, I'm glad I gave the writing month another shot.
This NaNo was a bit eventful, with me starting one story and writing another. In the beginning I started off with the rewrite of Shadows of Past Memories, but then I decided to swap stories...and that meant catching up, since I didn't want to use the word count from story #1.
It was a bit of a feat, but I managed, and story #2 went really well! I learned so many things from it (and it's not even finished yet).
The biggest thing I learned from NaNo overall this year, though, was that word count really doesn't matter to me anymore.
Is it awesome to reach 50K? Of course. Is it a challenge to do it in a month? Definitely! But as a more seasoned writer (and it feels strange to be able to say that now), I'm not worried about getting a story out in a frenzy, or challenging myself for the 50K.
I've said this before, but there's a new layer to it now.
Before, I was trying not to worry about 50K and focus on the story...then I was focusing on the story...and this year, I was focusing on the story and actually taking my time.
NaNo has a way of making you rush. And while that works for a lot of writers -- write it fast, and then take your time editing -- I find that it doesn't really work for me. This month, I learned that I write best taking my time, and thinking through what I want the first go round.
Before, I used to do this in a different way: through plotting and planning. Now I plot and plan of course, but I also take my time directly in the middle of the story.
What does this look like? This month I discovered that it's good (for me) to backtrack and input new bits, to rewrite chapters if I'm not immediately satisfied with them, to wait a day or so until I have a clear picture of what I want to write (and it shows up!).
I'm halfway done, and it's not perfect, but it definitely feels more cohesive than it has in the past.
Will I still need to edit? Of course. Will I change things, rewrite? Of course. Editing is a powerful tool, but I've found by taking things slowly, I've been much more happy with my writing...and the process.
Would I have gotten to this point if I had never done NaNo the "normal" way -- written furiously, strove for 50K? Possibly, but not in the same way. I like the "fast" idea behind NaNo, because it really does help writers to get out of their way, though I still wish there was an emphasis on editing afterwards.
But I'm not new to the game anymore; I'm starting to realize that. It's strange when you get to the next stage.
I know how to write a novel. I know how to reach 50K. I know what type of characters I like, what my style is. It's not easy still, but that's because it's work -- it's always going to be work, but loving work.
I've gone to new places because of NaNo, and this year was no different. Now I can sit back, with my less fast style of writing -- editing in between, pausing for long moments, not worrying about how many words per day, so long as the story is told and I reach my deadline -- and enjoy the process even more.
What did you learn from NaNo this year? How did your month go?
A Snowflake Triplet Surprise
The Year In Review
Bonus: Songs That Inspired Me This Month
I love music, and here are some of the songs that helped me write this story (and inspired bits of it).
Firstly, I went to see Moana the day before Thanksgiving. I really loved it! I would definitely recommend the film. I could really relate to Moana, the music was wonderful, and there was a definite focus on characterization that hasn't been there in some recent Disney films. Thumbs way up!
(This song is a mild spoiler, so if you haven't seen it yet, well -- spoiler alert!)
One of the anime on my list on Netflix was Aldnoa.Zero, which I never got around to watching. This month, when I needed a break from writing, I gave it a try. It's...imperfect, but I enjoyed parts of it -- especially this ending/battle theme (the score in general, really).
I tried to find a (non-sped) version of the original, which is my favorite (I like how it has lyrics in Japanese, English, and German), but I couldn't due to liscensing. So here is AmaLee's version, which I also really love (also available on iTunes for purchase!).
Last but not east, the original opening theme for Owari No Seraph! I love vampire stories (and the story I happened to switch to was, surprise, a vampire tale, contrived quite a few years ago). I started the anime a few months back, but I really like the manga more, and read it this month as inspiration.
Another case of "I prefer the original", so I've included the (sorry, sped-up) original song, but AmaLee's is great too (I bought a copy, and you should, too!).
(Just to say, none of these videos are mine, obviously.)