Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The NaNoWriMo: Great Motivation, but...

Well, it is now the month of the November and it is once again, the time when tons of people participate in the NaNoWriMo to complete that first novel! Every day, they log into their computers and bang out those words to meet their daily, weekly and certainly their monthly totals. But...

The NaNoWriMo is one of many approaches when it comes to writing. The approach is pretty simple. Write like crazy and get those words on the page. You can always go back and edit it later on. This speed approach to writing is one that does have benefits. By taking this approach, you don't bog yourself down with thinking too hard about your story. For a lot of writers out there, their writing speed and production really decreases due to spending too much time "thinking" about their stories. They will often write a small scene and then spend hours and yes, even days, contemplating their next move, or thinking if that really sounded right.

I do think that approach works great for brainstorming or for getting over a small little roadblock in your story. But, it is here that I do believe the NaNoWriMo misses the mark and potentially can create more problems than it is worth. 

As I said, that speed approach works great for those smaller sections of your story. Heck, you can probably do one or two chapters that way. But when you write the entire book with that approach, the editing can really become nightmarish for an author. Too often, the edits that you start doing will extend through the entire story. Moving around that amount of material, or making those global changes can become a huge process. In a lot of cases, changes that you make in one place can even end up contradicting things you did in other chapters, simply because you weren't thinking about the story.

As an agent who does like to assist authors with their editing, I have really found that helping out "as the author writes" can be much more productive because we can catch those mistakes BEFORE the issue gets out of control. 

There are ways to make the NaNoWriMo more productive for an author, but it does take the month of October (or sooner) to get ready for the month of November. Prior to Nov. 1, the author can simply go through and completely (and yes, I do mean completely) outline and plot out the entire story. Know where that story is going to, think about the potential issues, plan out the conflicts and the solutions! When it is time to write, you don't end up with those frustrations of trying to figure out what you are going to do next.

If you don't want to do the entire prep before hand, you can always break it down into smaller batches. Try planning it out in week increments, or, you can even take each evening and prep what is going to go into the next day's worth of work. 

I would also recommend that as you go, after you finish that day's worth of writing, you add in some time to edit that work. Really go over it and work out those plot issues or character flaws. You don't want to get going on the story and start following a flaw in the plot because you were just concerned with the word count. 

Look, don't get me wrong! As the title of this post states, I do believe the NaNoWriMo is a great motivational tool for writers. It does get a few of you off your butts and to force you to stop making all of those excuses for why you didn't write. Keep that energy up. But please understand, the outcome of this month, might not be all that you hope, UNLESS you take the time to think through what you are doing.

Oh, and one final thing. I Tweeted this last week, but please, do not start sending out these projects on Dec. 1 thinking the story is ready to go for an editor or agent. Editing WILL BE REQUIRED!

No comments:

Post a Comment