Nano: Learning from Experience

Martha over at has a post detailing her previous experiences with NaNo and how she’s going to plan for success this year.

Nifty Quote:

Thus far I’ve had a mixed success with NaNo’s. I’ve won three times out of eight attempts, but have yet to go back and turn any of them into a ‘real’ novel. While I am failing upwards more or less consistently, I’m a long way from being a NaNo pro.

This year I’m trying for a honest to [deity] novel-shaped draft by the end of November. Based on my history, this means I need to have a novel-shaped outline as free of plot holes and [needs research] notations as possible.

I positively love how honest Martha is about her experiences. With each NaNo she’s done, she’s learned something.

My list is a bit shorter. I’ve done and won NaNo a whole two times. But I have definitely learned a whole lot about myself and about writing from the experience.

NaNoWriMo 2010. After starting and restarting my “debut” novel six or so times over the past year, I joined NaNo on October 27th. Spent three days planning using the Snowflake Method, typed up an outline, and wrote a sequel to a novel I hadn’t even written yet.

And I learned a whole lot. I had never actually finished anything, so NaNoWriMo was my first ever finished writing project. Hurray! Likely that’s why I’m such a NaNo fangirl. I had such a great experience, I had so much fun, and I learned a lot about my writing process.

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2011. Smaller write-ins and loads of iced coffee. Yum. I was able to complete this project (I managed a crazy 25k words in the first week and the next 26k over the next two) but I hadn’t planned it out well enough.  My “outline” was the major story milestones with a list of things that could happen in between. The second half was not fun to write.

Lesson learned: Spend more time planning. Get to know the characters, don’t breeze through those first-stage planning steps, like making sure my premise, concept, and conflicts are properly embedded in my brain. I will write a full outline this time, making sure each scene has all the stuff necessary for it to be a scene.

What have you learned from your NaNo experiences? What do you hope to learn?

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3 Responses to Nano: Learning from Experience

  1. fsnoodles says:

    Thank you for this post. The 2011 NaNo will be my first year, and now I know to plan a good few days before November 1st. Kudos 🙂

    • Ann Elise says:

      This NaNo is my first, too. I’ve just started outlining, although your average outliner who sticks to a particular method would probably freak out if they saw my mess 🙂

    • barbrude says:

      I wouldn’t recommend waiting till the 27th to start planning, by the way. But if you think the Snowflake Method (it’s on my blogroll) will work for you, you could come up with a story skeleton in as little as 20 hours (or as many as, well, a lot more than 20).

      Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

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