10 Things I Learned During NaNoWriMo

  1. characterization1. Our characters are not inherently interesting.

    Just because I give my character a name and a hair color and let them loose in my novel does not mean readers are going to connect to them. It takes hard work and careful consideration to make a character unique and memorable.

    2. I love writing dialogue.

    Maybe too much…

    3. My plot has a secret plan of its own.

    Some days I really struggled with my plot. I have never been able to plan more than a chapter ahead of time and it became very frustrating on days when I didn’t know what was going to happen in the next sentence. I would stare at the blinking cursor, trying to think of a creative yet realistic turn for my plot to take. When I would be on the verge of giving up, inspiration would strike and my story would take off with my fingers flying faster than ever before. Even as I make these plot twists up by the seat of my pants, they all tied into the story and led to an ending I never could have planned from the beginning. Sometimes I think my novel is someone else’s story that has already played out and I’m just trying to get in on paper for them. 

    main thing4. If you make it a priority, you can set aside the time to do anything.

    I always hear people saying things like “I don’t have time to work out” or “I don’t have time to read books” but over the past few years, its become clear to me that the ONLY things we have time for are the things we MAKE time for. Even at the start of November I didn’t think I had time to write 50,000 words in one month but once I set aside a regular time for it, writing became my #1 priority during those few hours.

    5. I use reading as a lazy excuse to avoid writing.

    I love reading and I approach books knowing they are filled with lessons I can learn about writing. I view reading as a way to improve my writing but during NaNo (when I didn’t read a single book) I realized there really is no replacement for writing. No matter how I approach reading, it will never teach me the same things that my writing can. I still find it very valuable and necessary but I need to avoid sitting in my oversized leather reading chair just because it’s easier than pumping out words of my own. 

    6. Turning off my car radio is a good time to think about my writing. 

    writer window7. “A writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.”

    I found this quote by Burton Rascoe to be very true throughout November. Pondering my story, my plot, and my characters was just as important to my process as actually writing. Not only did I find myself thinking about my plot and my characters as I studied the scene out my office window, but also when I stared at the computer at work, when I went for a walk, when I was driving, when I read the news, and when I saw a stranger make an interesting gesture.

    8. I use writing to approach my soul’s nagging questions.

    The questions I’m afraid to ask. The questions that have no clear answers. The questions that are not questions at all, but desires waiting to be unleashed. Writing fiction is my way of fleshing out my thoughts without having to claim them as my own.

    9. My dog will refuse to settle on the cold hardwood floor of my office unless I lay down blankets for her. 

    Even this is too simplified...10. Getting the story down is only the first, small step. 

    Especially since I don’t plan out my novel before I begin, a lot of changes occur that will change previous scenes drastically. Halfway through my novel, I changed one character from male to female which changed her entire personality. Not only do the obvious things need to be changed but, one of my main editing priorities is making sure the characters personality are consistent with their actions throughout the entire novel. My plans for this novel are much bigger than they were a month ago. Editing, here we come!


About Sarah JS

Aspiring writer, lover of words, book nerd, working editor, and permanent student of the world

Posted on December 2, 2014, in A Writer's Life, Editing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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