Brooke E. Wayne: Contemporary Romance with a Kiss of Humor

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What I Got out of my First #NaNoWriMo Experience

What I Got Out of my First #NaNoWriMo Experience

I started prepping for my first National Novel Writing Month in mid-October by gathering research and summarizing my chapters and scenes. A little here, a little there, until I had a 38-page word doc outline to run with come November 1st.

I wanted to participate by the rules 100%:

  • Writing EverydayIMG_7825
  • Logging in and recording my progress
  • Earning my badges for participation as I go
  • Tweeting regularly on the #NaNoWriMo hashtag on Twitter @brookeewayne
  • And keeping to the Nov 1st as word-one rule

 

In the end, it took me twenty-three days to write a 53,838-word novel, sticking to my outline about 95% of the time.

I found it difficult to get started even though I had everything in place. The words just wouldn’t flow at times as easily as I had hoped despite all the prepping I had done to keep that from happening.

LESSON LEARNED: That setback reinforced my belief that no matter what, no matter when, if the inspiration strikes and the words begin to flow, WRITE THEM DOWN! Don’t let the moment pass believing it will return when the ‘time is right’. It won’t.

The pressure of meeting a deadline of 50,000 words in 30 days wore on my nerves harder than I thought it would at first. As soon as I passed the 50K threshold, I could literally feel my shoulders relax when I was typing. Weird.

LESSON LEARNED: When I’m faced with publishing deadlines someday, I need to brace myself for the inevitable psyching-out that will occur. Cue husbandry duties of nightly back massages…happy wife-happy life.

When I rounded the halfway point, I found my stride.

LESSON LEARNED: Keep moving forward, fighting, clawing, and forcing the words out like you’re digging out of your own grave because you will break through.

I also fought the urge to go back and edit, delete, revamp, and mess with the story every step of the way. I even forced myself to wait until the end to run spell check. Yeah, that took a good twenty minutes of my life away.

LESSON LEARNED: I need to go back. I just do. I have to fuss with the way things are written a little before moving on. Not major editing, just, you know, getting that voice down that drives the story. Every word should matter, right? Not doing that along the way made moments of writing forward feel like I was walking on broken glass.

In the end, a story that had begun as an Adult Rom-Com spoof on an 80s throwback story pieced together from actual events in my HS days emerged as a viable YA novel that I am definitely going to polish after it marinades for a couple of months. And I will pitch it alongside the Adult MS I have out now still surviving in the trenches of querying-round-one.

Between now and the revision period, I’m continuing the practice of writing everyday–specifically, I am going to write a sequel to my queried MS. My “break” from writing yesterday that I allotted myself still yielded three sentences to that story already underway just to keep to my promise.

I am proud that I pushed myself to write a second full MS and even more proud that I wrote it through NaNoWriMo, challenging myself when life was ridiculously cluttered with progress reports, parent-teacher conferences, a sinus infection piggybacking the cough & cold flu, while others in my family were tossing their cookies with the stomach flu, and even adding an afterschool club I had decided to run two days a week.

Of all the lessons learned, I discovered I could handle a lot in a short amount of time without going completely crazy.

Week One of NaNoWriMo

As a first year NaNoWriMo participant, I made a deal with myself to start day one and keep moving forward with one goal in mind: 50,000 words.

In preparation for the event, I scrounged around inside my head and pulled out some heartfelt, funny, and awkwardly painful memories of my high school days and threaded a story line through it. My chapter and scene outline, character sketches, and research amounted to over 8,000 words. None of which, I would count towards my rough draft.

Then on day one, I started to type.

I liken the experience last Sunday to running up hill holding my breath.

Not being allowed to reread, delete-delete-delete, revise, and then keep on going has been a slow, torturous journey for me.The reason is because I like to fine-tune as I go.

Notice how I didn’t say polish.

So rereading became inevitable by mid-week, and to scratch my nagging itch, I finally gave into bolding the lines I thought were keepers…the rest, debatable…but not delete-able, not yet anyway.

IMG_7693Getting to 10,000 in one week was a lot harder than I expected. Not because chocking up a word count was some sort of challenge—I’m more than capable of rambling on and on at the keyboard—but that I examined every word in my head before it came out of my fingertips like I was picking out the perfect mix of my own assorted Godiva box of chocolates.

If you’ve never done this, grab a credit card and go to the mall.

Go now.

(You’ll thank me later.)

I also had a lot of my writing time eaten up with How-the-Hell-Did-I-Do-That? moments this past week. (See pic.)IMG_7687

I admit, some words did get the ax here and there when I broke down and reread what I had written after a few days, but overall, the story is unfolding, as is.

(Gulp.)

And I have 21 days left to go.

I know I need to pick up the pace to reach my word count, but I do get a full week off before the deadline (Yay, teaching perks!), and I am finally finding my groove with the MC’s voice.

I just need to resist the urge to backtrack, as well as, stop treating every single word like it’s there to stay. I still have 40,000 more words to go, and I’m learning to accept that they’re just not all going to be a mouthwatering delight. And I must Keep. Moving. Forward.

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