Monday, November 25, 2013

What I Learned from NaNoWriMo (Otherwise known as NaNoWriNoMore)

One of my November goals was to participate in National Novel Writing Month. By the end of the month, the goal was to have 50,000 words written--the rough draft of a novel.

I do not have the rough draft of a novel written. I don't have anything close. Instead of feeling like a failure and hiding in my sweat pants in the closet, I'm focusing on what I learned during the month.

First off, the project I was working on doesn't want to be a novel. I've been trying to cram it into novel form for awhile, and boy, has it been kicking and screaming. And then last week, I read something that jumped out at me in The Daily Writer by Fred White: "We write essays in order to explore the nuances of a topic or a personal experience, to articulate an emotional state, to grapple with an idea." This really hit home to me--my novel-to-be started out as an essay, and I was trying to expound on it. But it isn't meant to be a novel. I'm beginning to think it is meant to be a collection of essays, shorter pieces of work that all tie together in the end. Just saying those words out loud were such a relief to me.

But the most important thing I learned is that once I started forcing myself to write every day, words started coming freely. Maybe not in the way I expected them to, but writing became a natural part of my day again. My Little Man got used to the idea of "Mommy's having writing time" and I found myself writing bits and pieces of unfinished stories and parts of stories that have yet to be written. Writing suddenly became part of my every day. For example, take writing out the groceries. Instead of listing them out, it became a mystery: She walks down the aisle, stalking the products with the stealthiness of a tiger--what will she make for dinner? How will she fit all those food groups on to one plate? Will she be able to do it? It became a comedy: She pushed the enormous shopping-cart-shaped-like-a-car down aisle 6, knocking over an entire display of stuffing while her child sang 'Jingle Bells' at the top of his lungs. All she had left on her list was pizza sauce. It wasn't with the tomato sauce, wasn't with the pizza crusts--why was this so hard to find? She made another turn and a bottom row of canned goods crashed to the floor. Who designed the carts?! She shoved her hair out of her face and decided to order out. Or a soap opera: She watched with a haughty gaze as the woman in front of her loaded her items onto to the belt. 17 items. "You!" She screamed. "Don't you know this is 10 items or less?" She threw her purse down and smacked the other woman, who fell to the ground, hitting her head and falling unconscious and forgetting everything she ever knew--including what she was making for dinner that night.

It's ironic, really, that in attempt to write 50,000 cohesive words came the ability to write shorter bits. I've never thought of myself as a "short story" type of person, but it turns out that short suits my lifestyle.

It's been delightful, really, allowing time to stop and write when the inspiration hits me. So perhaps I didn't "win" in the sense of the game. But I'm coming out of the month with a stack full of ideas and a new focus--and that's even better than 50,000 words.

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully we will get to read a few more short stories then! =)