This year was lucky number thirteen participating in Nano – National Novel Writing Month. Like anything else in life, this event was full of opinions about the right way to participate.
There were people who turn their noses’ up at this event. Their contention was that it’s for amateurs. A professional ought to be doing 50K every month and not make it just an annual event.
For those that embrace Nano, there are some that feel that any words on a page, including stream of consciousness, were acceptable. There were others who were adamant that you shall only work on a single work for the whole time. There were some short story / flash fiction groups who gave it their own twist. Some people hated the word wars and sprinting. Others loved them. There were many creative ways to add word count.
When I first started, Nano was probably the one time a year I wrote. I was THAT person who talked about writing, but actually did very little of it. Looking back at drafts from that time was painful. Some years a ‘win’ took a dramatic 14K in one day. The suckage was high.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some gems. I will someday rewrite that alien space assassin and 18th century noble woman story. (probably from this description without looking at the previous prose at all)
Then I got serious about writing. I gave up my excessive number of hobbies. Any extra time was to be dedicated to writing. So I became more consistent with writing. I started with 15 minutes a day and worked my way up.
My first Nano drafts still sucked. First drafts pretty much always do, but they sucked in a different way. The story concepts were sound and the word fillers, like stream of consciousness or random words or ‘forgetting’ hyphens or a main characters that has a compound name (Hi Mary Lou Anna!), disappeared. The 50K were actual words in the story and not me agonizing over what the dog should do about little Timmy being in the well.
Now my biggest issue was my propensity to cheat. Yes, we all know cheating is bad and I want to write that 50K on one story. But every year some other story crashes the party. And it’s not characters from the first story that stood up and said “Oh! Pick me. Pick me. I have something to say.” No, it was a story with a different premise, different characters, different world, different origin scene. I went from writing a Sci-fi to a sci-fi romance to a contemporary college romance.
Maybe some day my nano will be pure and I will have a 50K draft of a single story. In the mean time, I’ve decided to embrace Nano for what it is. A chance to focus on becoming a better writer.