And proud of it. Sort of.
Of course I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope to have a completed manuscript by now. That's why I tried NaNo in the first place.
Still, I'm proud of the fact that I gave NaNo a try. Even if I wasn't a "Winner."
There are many people who enter NaNo every year. They "win" and emerge with a 50,000 word manuscript. So, why didn't I win NaNo? Well, here are my top reasons that NaNo didn't work for me.
COMPETITION I don't like competition. Honestly, I can count on one hand how many contests I've entered in hopes of winning a MS crit with an agent. And for whatever reason NaNo felt like a competition to me. I know it's not. But it felt that way.
WORK I don't mean that writing is work. What I mean is that I don't want writing to feel like a job. Elana Johnson wrote a great blog post about that. And I couldn't agree more. Writing is enjoyable for me. It's something that I LOVE doing. And I want to keep it that way. I never want to feel like writing is a job because there's no quicker way to suck the joy out of something than to think of it as work.
RACE MENTALITY Recently my husband ran a marathon. Due to some really incredible circumstances he barely made it to the race on time (that's a story for another day). As he ran across the starting mats he could see all the other runners way ahead of him. He had to remind himself not to worry about catching up, but to pace himself and run the race how he'd trained for it. The same is true for NaNo. Although I started off strong, life quickly got in the way and my word count fell behind. Before long I had the race mentality. I HAD to catch up! But I'm not like those other writers, so I would never finish 50,000 words in 9 days like one of my crit partners (Ahem, yeah, I'm talking about you MINDY!). But really, that's OKAY.
INTERNAL EDITOR I just couldn't turn it off. To tell the truth though, I don't like shutting her out. Thankfully my internal editor isn't one who tells me my writing sucks. She stands quietly by encouraging me to write better and showing me ways to improve. Many people would give their writing hand to have a gift like that. And I do consider it a gift. Since I couldn't turn off my internal editor, I felt like I couldn't go back and review the story. The urge to edit would be just too strong. Like a frickin drug. And because I couldn't review, I had a hard time connecting to the story. It became difficult to see where I'd been and where the story was going.
WORD COUNT I've had many writer friends who LIVE by word count goals. Not me. Granted, I do tend to have a goal range, but it's a RANGE not a set minimum of words. My first Middle-Grade manuscript I wrote in 6 days with a word count range of 20-30,000 words. When the manuscript was complete at 24,000 I was happy with that. Of course it has now gone through a HUGE revision and I'm up to 40,000 words - and counting. If I had to choose one primary reason why I failed at NaNo - word count goal would be it. Not because I can't write 50K words (my YA was 91K) but because I felt like I couldn't edit (= delete) any words. So the times that I couldn't turn off my internal editor and I allowed myself to edit, I had to do it in RED so all my words would be there, plus the new ones that I wanted to use instead. It kind of became a huge jarbled mess after a while.
DAILY WRITING This goes with the mentality of thinking that writing is a job. I'll be honest with you. I don't write daily. < GASP > I write when my muse visits. Sometimes that IS every day. Sometimes that every day is multiple times a day - even waking me up at 2 am to race to my laptop in my freezing cold dining room and write a scene that's screaming to have it's place on a page. Other times, I might not write for days. For one, I have a life. For another, I'm not going to force something out if I'm really not feeling it. Especially if it just means meeting a word count goal.
So there you have it. NaNo didn't work for me. But it did teach me something very, very valuable. I don't need a dedicated month to write a manuscript.
I'm glad though to have a red-marked, horribly written, sloppy start to a really great Gothic MG. And I'm really excited to finish it. On my terms. :)
What about you? What was your experience with NaNo?