Friday, December 23, 2011

My Failings as a Novelist: How NaNoWriMo helped me find my voice

Well, I gave it a shot but I fell short...45,000 words short, to be exact! 

That's right...this past November, I jumped on the NaNoWriMo bandwagon to celebrate National Novel Writing Month. 

I thought, "This is going to be my year!  I'm going to crank out the book that's going to make me millions, and I'm going to do it in one month!" 

I felt prepared; I had my novel idea in mind before I even signed up, I had brainstormed who my characters would be and how they would be introduced, and I set aside a daily chunk of time to devote to my novel writing.

Starting out the month strong, I kept to my schedule...for about three days.  Even when I found myself adding to my novel only every third or fourth day, I was still confident, hopeful even, that I would find my motivation, my inspiration, and drive it home in the final weeks.   But, as I neared mid-month, with a mere 4,500 of the targeted 50,000 words written, I fell victim to self-doubt and discouragement. 

Desperate to find my voice, I started searching the NaNoWriMo site for insight and musings.  I read the emails meant to encourage and motivate.  I read through my region's discussion threads.  Sadly, all I found was more discouragement: I was discouraged by all the other "novelists", who were racking up 10,000 words a day; I was discouraged by the comraderie I saw but didn't feel; and, I was discouraged because I fell farther and farther behind. 

I even tried, at one point, to reach out for help, asking my fellow area NaNos what they were doing to motivate themselves but I received no suggestions or encouragement, not even a "Sorry you are struggling; maybe novel writing just isn't your thing".  All I was received with nothing.

So, I did what any self-respecting writer would do...I refused to log back in to NaNo for the remainder of the month.  I didn't want to see how everyone else was sprinting to the finish line, heroically hoisting their 50,000 words above them, while I struggled to hold on to my measely 5,000 words back at turn #1.

As November faded into December, I decided to take a peek at what I had abandoned a mere two weeks prior and wouldn't you know it...epiphany struck!

As I read what I had written, my "measely 5,000 words", I realized that I had written more of my novel in the first two weeks of National Novel Writing Month than I had in all the years I toyed with the idea!  I actually had a great beginning to my great novel: the characters were real, the feelings were genuine, and the plot was well on its way to thickening. 

I felt a renewed sense of inspiration.  I had found my motivation...and it came to me in December! 

I realized I didn't fail to write my novel during the month of November, I had succeeded in taking the first steps towards my lifelong dream of writing a novel.  Rather than pumping out 1,600 words a day, I could compose 5,000 words a month and be finished with my novel in less than a year! 

I had my voice back!

Thanks NaNoWriMo!

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