01 December 2011

It's time now to sing out, though the story never ends

If only NaNoWriMo's winning requirement was for 525,600 words, then I could make up NaNo lyrics to Seasons of Love more accurately. "Fifty one thousand one hundred eighty one wo-rds / Fifty one thousand one hundred eighty one moments so dear" just does not have the same ring as the original. Of course, writing five hundred thousand words in a month would probably explode my mind and leave my fingers crippled.

I'm still in recovery from doing 51,181 words over the past four weeks.

In the past, I never considered doing NaNo because I thought that (in theory) every month should be "write a novel a month" for me. I mean, wasn't I already a disciplined and productive writer by trade? Haha, yeah right. After being a little more honest about my output, I decided that getting into the spirit of NaNo might be something I should try once. Like eating stinky tofu. Or riding roller coasters. Or watching an American Idol concert. Live.

So I did it this year. National Novel Writing Month. And as of yesterday, I'm a winner. Please, hold the applause till the end. You may not want to clap after you hear me out.

Aside from crossing the finish line with 50,000+ words in November, my goal was to just write as many consecutive days as I could. Normally my writing style is to cram when deadlines are looming. That means I'll just hunker down for a week or two and pump out words in-between sleeping and eating. Shun sunlight, social obligations, and all other forms of sanity. With this "method," I'd never written for more than ten days at one shot, much less sustained a whole month straight. NaNo would teach me to put my ass in the chair every day and throw down some words.

The good news is that except for a brief unproductive mid-month excursion to Los Angeles, I wrote just about every single day. The bad news is, all of my writing was pretty much drivel and I'd hardly call it even a first draft. I'd consider it more like an expanded outline. Some of my characters don't have names, there's a whole lot of "insert action scene here" notes, and if there was ever a plot or a point, it got messed up way back.

At the beginning of the month, I took my time and tried to outline and research and write some quality words. I even attempted to follow along with Scott Westerfeld's NaNo advice posts (from last year). But that was taking too damn long. By the end, I was just trying to get through my daily 2,100 words as fast as possible. I did my best to just keep churning without looking back or editing. And now I have fifty thousand plus words that will probably all need to be re-written.

Heck, I even cheated a little. I wrote about 30,000 words of one book before starting another and then going 20,000 on that one. Basically I had two different stories I wanted to try out so I just sort of did both. One was high fantasy, the other cyberpunky. Both all over the place.

What is nice though, is that these were the first projects I've ever tried that weren't already under contract or headed for some sort of editor to look at. So it was fun to just write down whatever I wanted and not worry about the end product. If my swords and sorcery veered into superhero land and then back across to techie science fiction, so be it. Nobody's going to read these things in their current iteration and they didn't have to make any sense. Rainbow colored elves? Yes please. Coffee powered androids? Gimme some. I just threw in whatever I was thinking about that day and figured I'd sort it all out later.

I'm going to try to carry on the momentum of writing daily, but dial it back some so I can do editing on what I did for NaNo and try to whip it into semi-cohesive shape. To all the winners past, present, and especially future: I salute you! (And we can all say "I have that t-shirt.")