Another writing prompt today asked about so-called best practices for writing that have failed epically when I have tried them.
My biggest failure was the year I tried to do NaNoWriMo. In November each year a whole bunch of people sign up for National Novel Writing Month, pledging to write 50,000 words (the length of a short novel) during that month. I knew this was not a good time for me. I travel to two national meetings in November (although that airport time should be a bonus), and there are these holidays at the end of the month. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot. I was going well until about 5,000 words into it. It was time to write something about the antagonist, and I knew immediately it was bad. The earlier bits about the protagonist and her world, based on things I knew well, came easily. I needed to learn more about the villain(s) before I could write about them.
The idea of grinding out a first draft of crap is fine. I’ve done that a lot with scientific writing. In this case, the need for further research became crystal clear, and I started in on that. I’ve also started a different project where the antagonist is in a more familiar world. I’m hoping I can get my feet wet with this one and go back to my NaNoWriMo project when I understand my villains better (although that may take some time).
I’ve since met people who have written and published novels drafted in a November frenzy. It just didn’t work out for me this time.
2 Replies to “Best Practices May Not Be”
I wonder what percentage of those that take the challenge actually complete it. The project seems a win for you as you found the snag to overcome before continuing. And now you’ll be on your way with 5000 words behind you. Good reading for me as I have contemplated taking the challenge next year. Thanks.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo a few times, sometimes “winning” sometimes not. What it does for me is help me push through my inner editor and get a bigger chunk of words down on the page in a shorter time than I would otherwise. It stops me from losing a lot of time looking stuff up. I just put a note reminding myself to look that up later, and, often, the point ends up being moot by the time I circle back around and I saved myself a trip down the research rabbit hole.
I wouldn’t want it to be my process all the time, because it sucks some of the joy out of it for me, trying to go so fast. But I have found it a great way to kickstart a new project.