NaNoWriMo: Reflection

Winner's badge for NaNoWriMo 2012.
Here! Take this.
I passed 50,000 words one and a half hours before midnight November 30th. It felt underwhelming, because at that point, I had written myself into a hole and was ready to bail the draft.

Yep. It was a little hard, but I made it. I wrote more than I wrote in six months, if not more. It's proof that I can get my game up and stick with a goal, even if the means are less than glamorous.

With it being December now, it's time to dissect my adventure and analyze what I can take from it.

My Goals (in Descending Order)

  1. Rebuild my writing work ethic.
  2. Figure out my writing habits and ethic in better details.
  3. Write a novel that will be eventually published.
  4. Have something to brag about.

Yeah. To admit, the story wasn't the largest priority, but I'll get into it later.

My Work Ethic

Doing NaNoWriMo taught me a lot about this.

Let me start with the first once: Weekends and school breaks kill my writing!

Take a look at my stats. See where I lost my lead? That was Thanksgiving Break. At the end of it, I was moaning screaming into a pillow, lamenting about how I've done nothing during it.

First of all, I stayed in bed all five days. Not slept in. Stayed in. Until 10:45 AM.

On school days, I would've already done most of my writing for the day by that time, considering I used before schools, so of course I felt bad about throwing those hours away.

One of my goals is to figure out how to get moving during the weekends. Wish me luck on that.

Another one is that it's easy to burn time. I either start working, or I waste ten minutes on other computer tasks. That's simple enough. Get straight to the point.

Third of all, I need to look out for schoolwork. While I managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA with ease (with my favorite class being above 100%), I'll need to put more effort on finals, so I can ace them and prevent a couple of bad grades in biology from hurting that perfect, round number. 

Hey, it looks good to colleges, even if a published novel might look better! Along with a sport.

Fourth of all, work on writing momentum. Cherish the zone, so I can snap in and type through all the potential bumps. With that, productivity will spike.

Fifth of all, actually getting myself to write is the hardest thing to do. Once I make that plunge, and get into the writing, maintaining that speed is easier.

Lastly, I can write to any kind of music. I write a serious fighting scene to "Gangnam Style"!

What? That's me.

The Actual Work

The obvious lesson is in plain sight: My rough draft sucked.

Prose-wise, plot-wise, and character-wise. I can probably produce a checklist right now on issues I'll have to address when revising, but at my draft's current state, I'm better off looking over it, constructing a new outline, and use the knowledge I acquire during November to avoid those same mistakes.

For example, figuring out how to get from Point G to Point H, or figuring out how to cultivate the relationship between two characters a little better, and flipping a character's personality 180, and even giving the city an actual name.

Related to that: I should feel that way for the next few projects. The experts are right when they say that all rough drafts suck. Yet, my goal is to measure the quality of it, so hopefully it'll go from "straight-up manure to litter". Terrible to bad, but that'll make the journey from "bad to fantastic" faster.

Another thing: I should stop being shy about writing mildly steamy scenes in public. There isn't even a kissing scene in my novel, but let's say that simpler acts make me nervous about someone looking over my shoulder or pulling me off in the middle of the scene.

(I will also not be showing it to anybody anytime soon, even though a friend already requested a look.)

What's Next?

I'll be setting my NaNoWriMo novel (called Road) to the side and working on a shorter title for a short story contest. Done right, I'll be able to submit it at the end-of-the-not deadline.

I intend to release a short story collection as my debut. It'll be a way to put a foot into the self-publishing industry, have something to give away for free, and have a project I can promote to my classmates without feeling embarrassed about the content.

Hopefully, you'll guys stick with me during this journey, and I'll have a novel ready for publication by age eighteen (or high school graduation).

YOUR TURN: Did you do NaNoWriMo this year? How did it go for you? Anything that you learned about your writing from it?