Nano: What do you want?

There’s a question that I forgot to ask myself in regards to planning my NaNo project this year…

What do I want?

(What do I hope to take from this experience? What am I really trying to create here? What am I going to teach myself? How am I going to avoid my previous mistakes so that I can make new mistakes and learn from those?)

What are my goals with this project?

(Just starting what I finish isn’t enough anymore. I have to raise the bar, write a better story, improve the process, waste less time.)

I’m thinking these through on the assumption that most of the readers for my NaNo series are somewhere near my writing experience. A few books written, nothing published, a NaNo win under your belt, or maybe this is your first NaNo. I figure, NaNo 10-time winners won’t find much helpful information here (and I likely sound like an upstart!) and neither would professional selling writers (they’ve already gotten used  worse deadlines and put in their million words + more).

So here’s my question for you, fellow newbie writer: what do you want out of NaNoWriMo?

Just don’t say the P-word, unless you’re talking about focused Practice. What techniques are going to try this time around? How are you going to keep yourself on your ragged edge (outside your comfort zone, where you can learn the most)? How are you going to improve your process? How are you going to make sure you succeed?

This is where knowing yourself comes in pretty handy. Is there some feedback you’ve received on a previous story that you want to make sure you never receive again (by not making that mistake again, I mean, not by hiding your novel!). Or maybe you’ve had this nagging feeling that you’re not doing enough… worldbuilding, foreshadowing, characterization, conflict, setting, visceral details, active voice, whatever.

This is your chance to learn something that you can take with you. You won’t get better at it unless you make a point to practice. Focused practice, so that you plan to give yourself plenty of opportunity to work on it.

I’m a bit concerned that I won’t hit my setting as strongly as I need to. Since this story is set on an alien world with its own cosmology, setting is going to be important. I’ve been making sure my world-building accounts for all the ways these people live, but if I don’t add that into the setting details, the story could fail. So… not only will I be focusing on making sure that every location gets vivid details, I’m also going to add important places to my story bible to make sure I’ve visualized everything before November.

If you’ve never done NaNo before, a worthwhile takeaway is to finish. That’s fine (and don’t let all those crazy non-writers tell you any different). But if you have won before, or written a novel before, why not push yourself just a little harder and set a learning goal for yourself?

What do you want out of this year’s NaNo?

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