Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Experience in NaNoWriMo

I haven't written on my blog in a while, but I'd like to share with you something that I did this past month that changed me as a writer. For the very first time, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For those that don't know what it is, it is a month where writers try and write 50,000 words in a month (50,000 words is the minimum amount of words for a book to qualify as a novel). When I began, I was honestly uncertain if I could even write a full novel in that time.

My novel is a story that I've wanted to write for a while called Credence. The story is YA futuristic dystopian about a girl named Brielle who is growing up in a time where religion and faith is seen as a mental disorder. In the beginning of the story, we read that the world has just rebuilt itself and the whole world is under one centralized government (save for just a handful of places that signed a treaty to not bother in the affairs of the rest of the globe). Since the government has decided that since faith is a mental disorder those affected by it must be taken care of (either by elimination or 'services' that try to get rid of it for you). After some terrible global conflict that led to nuclear weapons being used, they decided that faith was the main reason for why they couldn't have peace in the world. In response to this, a group of people rebelled and created an organization that protects Christians from detection. Brielle is one of the ones under their protection.

So, in just a couple of weeks, I had the first draft written. It's terrible-as all first drafts are-but there are a few things that I noticed as I was writing:

  1. My narration got better as I continued to write. In times past, whenever I would write a short story or even attempt at writing a novel, one of my main problems was the narration of the story. I always ended up having a ton of dialogue and very little narrative. As I progressed through the chapters, I forced myself to try and write more narration. Towards the end, I got a better balance (not perfect) of narrative and dialogue.
  2. The more I wrote, the more ideas I got and the more the story grew. I always thought that you had to completely plan out a story before you sit down to write. It's true that it can help to do that, yet I found that just simply down and writing can really force your mind to think and allow the story to go where it wants to.
  3. Writing down the first draft really wasn't as difficult as I'd thought it'd be. Writing down a first draft can actually be fairly simple if you pace yourself. You can write 50,000 words in a month, or even less if you just sit down and do it. Hey, I heard that Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in about nine days.
  4. Writers Block is just a small obstacle. Don't stop even if you get writer's block. Write something-even if it may not make sense. A lot of my best ideas for the story came out of my writers block when I forced myself to write. One idea changes to another. You just have to see where your brain takes you, even if you aren't going to necessarily keep some of the things you rambled on about.
  5. I found that everyday I wanted to do nothing but write. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write, even at the times I was feeling mentally exhausted. I was just getting so excited to see my story progress, grow, and get closer and closer to the end.
  6. It helped me see the next books in the series more clearly. I have the intention to make this a trilogy (maybe even more, depends on what happens). The more I wrote, the more I could see what would happen in the continuing series. I noticed little things that came up that foreshadowed things to come later on. It's amazing how it just blooms!

The website for NaNoWriMo was extremely helpful in this process. They have message boards to talk with other people who are also doing this and kind of sharing in the burden some of the issues they've encountered. They also have authors that come in and write an encouraging note and give advice in letters to all who are participating.

I definitely plan on doing this again next year. For anyone who is a writer and wants to write novels, I HIGHLY suggest looking into doing this next year. You can do this even if you have limited time to do so. It really is all about pacing yourself. Sit down and write about 1500 words a day-that's roughly about a page and a half, two pages tops. If you do this, you will reach that 50,000 word mark by the last day of the month. Or, if you choose not to to NaNoWriMo, pick out a time period that works for you and figure out how many words a day you need to write in order to get to the end. The overall idea here is pacing and breaking the project down.

I know within the next year it will be a challenge to edit and go though the re-writing process, but it will be so worth it to eventually hold the published copy in my hands. This experience showed me that it IS possible and that this dream can become a reality-I just have to sit down and actually do it! I am just so thrilled and thankful that I was able to get something down. This gives me a starting point, and I just pray that God can use me and the story I'm writing to reach out to others and inspire them.

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