Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Fail: Lessons Learned

NaNoWriMo didn't turn out as good as I had hoped.
I admit defeat and I have no one to blame but myself.
I did better than last year, but last year I had book edits land in my lap, which stopped me from making my goal of 50,000 words.  This year?  Not enough planning.

My final total: 31,430 (roughly 63%)  The positive is that I finished one short story and got most of a second short story completed.

It's frustrating that I didn't meet the 50,000 word goal, but it's more important that I learned something about why I didn't make the goal. 

The first and probably most important lesson was that I need to turn off the Internet when I'm working.  The Internet is a great distraction and procrastination tool.  When the words start to slow down, I find myself wandering off to the Internet and dawdling around on various sites.  In the blink of an eye, I've wasted 30 minutes and can't get them back.  The Internet must go off because I simply don't have the self-control to stop myself.

The second lesson is to accept the time when I feel the need to write.  I've lately shifted to a strange sleep schedule.  I have a lot of trouble falling asleep before six in the morning and I find that I have some very productive writing between one and five in the morning.  It bothers me because I want to be on the same schedule as everyone else, but it's just not working out like that.  The thing to do: accept it and move on.  The important thing is to get the writing done and not worry about what time I'm doing the writing.

The final lesson: plan ahead.  Before I write a book, I have the entire story plotted out.  I have a list of how I am going to get from Point A to Point Z with all the major points in between laid out.  Usually the only thing that isn't detailed out is the final fight scene, but that develops as the book develops.  I have not been so detailed when plotting out my short stories.  I have the crux of the problem laid out but not how I'm going to fix it.  That resulted in several days of me staring at the computer, trying to figure out what I'm going to do next.

I used to write by the seat of my pants, but that resulted in a lot of down time as I paused to figure out the next step.  After seven books and three novellas, I've learned that I need a detailed outline before I open that blank page and start typing.  In the end, it saves time and keeps me moving forward.

Everyone has different tricks that work for them when it comes to writing.  Hopefully some of my lessons will work for you and you won't have to learn them the hard way like I did.

Today, I'm working on the last two chapters of my second short story and also coming up with a list of potential titles for the first book in the Tattoo Artist series.

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