… or in other words, No More National November Writing Month. I did NOT win NaNoWriMo.

Just so you’re aware, “winning” means writing 50,000 words during the month of November, not necessarily competing with anyone else. No, what a NaNoWriMo participant competes with is time, sanity, writer’s block, 9-5 day job, holidays, dear loving family members and deer collisions that total one’s car.

I did give NaNoWriMo a chance. One good week, anyway. But then I wrote myself into a corner (my outline wasn’t cemented like it should have been) and didn’t know how to get out without scrapping the almost 10,000 words over which I’d slaved.

I decided instead to think on what I’d learned and then move forward from there.

So, what writerly wisdom did I gain from my short time in NaNoWriMo? A few things:

  1. I don’t have a muse. There is no future where I’ll write effortlessly, inspired by some unknown gifted force. My story will only materialize if I intentionally put my butt in chair, fingers on keyboard, and make it happen.
  2. I can write well, even when I don’t feel like it. Even if I’m tired, uninspired and floundering my way through a scene, I can still make it work. Sometimes it’s even good – really good. Who knew?
  3. If a scene isn’t good, it can be fixed. If it can’t be fixed, it can be scrapped.
  4. There’s no such thing as perfect writing.
  5. A detailed plot outline is everything. Seriously. There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a scene and being clueless over what happens next. Ever hear of something called writer’s block? Bingo.
  6. Fear blocks creativity. Forget what people think and write the truth. Sometimes the truth is uncomfortable. Write it anyway.
  7. Respect the craft. Lots of people can write well. Lots of people are good storytellers. Being a good novelist combines the two and is very special.
  8. Writing is a gift I give myself. It’s actually a lot like exercise; something difficult while doing, but exhilarating and rewarding when I’m done.

So what am I up to now? Well, I’ve gathered the scraps of my NaNoWriMo story, mixed in some new ingredients and discovered some interesting new developments. Stay tuned to see where this leads.

Will I join NaNoWriMo 2012? Um… not likely. But I’m sure glad I tried it this year.

The Search for Story

Just a couple of weeks until NaNoWriMo, and I’m chasing my story around, trying to pin the slippery thing down. I swear, a hundred characters are in my head, all elbowing each other for first place.

Some writers say characterization is their toughest job. I wish! Mine come at me so fast, so vivid, and they Won’t. Stop. Talking. Already.

It would be fine if they talked about the plot of the story, but they don’t. They just sit around revealing their character. And that’s the problem – I need to give these people something to do.

The challenge is just settling on a character I like best. I like them all. Each one is more interesting (to me) than the last. But the story concept that works for “Janice” doesn’t work for “Judy,” so it’s a constant find & replace, mix & match, two-steps-forward-and-three-steps-back form of story planning. Argh!

I know, I know. I need to just settle on one main character already, and get going. The good part is, I’ve got LOTS of plot seeds for the future. Unfortunately, I’ve also got lots of fertilizer right now.