Happy New Year. Since the year began, I’ve been reading through the novel I finished in November. I got to the end yesterday, and since then have come to some conclusions about my NaNoWriMo experience.
To recap, my novel is 75,000 words. I wrote the first 25K over September and October, and the final 50K in a mad rush in November. (My reasons for doing this are explained here.)
I thought, considering the speed at which I poured the words out, I might be surprised at what I’d written. Not so. The novel reads exactly as I expected. It looks, approximately, like this:
- 80 pages of pretty good stuff (that would be the pre-November writing);
- 50 pages of not so good but fixable stuff;
- 120 pages of unsalvageable crap; and
- 40 pages of story with the potential to be great if it weren’t crammed into 40 pages in a desperate attempt to finish by the end of November.
I knew while I was in the middle that I was descending into crapdom, writing scenes that I’d have to cut later. I kept telling Shane, “I’m so bored writing these scenes,” and he’d say, “Then don’t write them.” But I wrote them anyway; I couldn’t stop myself.
Why? Maybe that was my process. Maybe I needed to write all that crap to get to the heart of the story. Maybe, but I don’t think so. I have to be honest and guess that 1) I was just getting through the words in order to meet my daily quota, and 2) I felt compelled to stick to the stupid outline I threw together just before I headed into NaNoWriMo.
I’m just glad that near the end I figured it out, and abandoned the outline and let my characters go do what they needed to do. (Incidentally, I knew, too, when I stopped writing crap. I knew because writing ceased to be a chore. I was having fun again.)
So would I do NaNoWriMo again? I don’t think so. The experience reaffirmed my stance against outlining. I know it works for lots of writers. I’m not one of them. And my brain’s just not quick enough to write that many words in such a short time without a plan. I need time for contemplation. Next time, I’ll take it slower.
For now, my path is clear. As soon as I post this, I’m going in and cutting the entire middle out. About half the novel, I’d guess. That’s a lot of lost words, but I’m not sad to see them go. Really, they’re so painful to read I can’t wait to get rid of them. I suspect that once the excess verbiage is gone I’ll actually have a decent story to work with.