Quick background: My goal for NaNoWriMo this year was to write, edit, and publish a novella in 30 days. The last three blogs tell a little more about that process if you want to learn more.
Well, I did it. In 30 days, I went from a little note on my phone with a bare-bones plot outline to a completed novella about workout plans, buff zombies, and eight-foot-tall babies wearing fake mustaches. This book could absolutely be better, but that’s the point of the Crimson Ace books. They’re not supposed to be perfect. They’re supposed to be fun. And this was definitely fun. If you want to read it, it’s 99 cents on Amazon…or free if you have Kindle Unlimited. You may want to read the first book in the series if you don’t want to be completely lost, but it’s going to be a weird read either way. Just click this ridiculous cover to find it.
So now we come to an important question: Was it really worth it to do this? Or did I just waste 30 days I could’ve been spending on this horror/drama serial I’ve been cooking up? Believe me, there were times when I wondered, especially the times when I was Googling names of different 90’s boy bands, or how to draw monocles.
But I maintain this was absolutely not a waste of a writing month. Here are a few of the things I got out of this time.
#1: I’m a faster writer than I give myself credit for
I’ve preached and preached to anyone who would listen how the key to writing fast is simply letting go of the need to slap perfection on a blank page. First drafts are, by nature, bad. The good stuff doesn’t come until you’ve edited and rewritten over and over and over.
And yet, I’ve found myself getting more and more frozen as I write.
I’ve been doing the very thing I’ve told everyone else to stay away from. I’ve been worrying if my rough draft is good enough. And so I’ve been writing slower and slower, allowing my fear of failure to paralyze me.
So then I started working on The Crimson Ace. On day one, I had one of the biggest writing nights of my life, because I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect. I just had to have it done, and I had to have a completed book by the end of the month.
And yeah, it wasn’t great. But there was stuff I could work with. There was stuff I was even a little proud of after I hacked away at some of the fat around it.
So as I come back to a project that I desperately want to be even better than The Marian Trilogy, I’m going to remind myself that the first step to writing a great book is writing a terrible rough draft.
#2: I had a chance to let my main project rest
I’d been totally submerged in the world of this horror/drama before starting The Crimson Ace. Taking a month to intensively write something completely different in pacing, genre, and tone was a great way to flush my mind of all the insecurities, preconceived notions, and baggage that was starting to pile up with this project. Now, as I come back, I’ve seen why some scenes have felt stale. I have some ideas to push the story in better and more interesting ways. I’m remembering what got me excited about this story in the first place.
#3: I reminded myself that writing is fun
This was the biggest one for me. It’s easy when I’m in the middle of a project, writing a scene that I’m not as excited about as the others, to forget that the whole reason I’m doing this is that I love to write. I love to tell stories. And I love this story. Blazing through The Crimson Ace was a reminder of how cool it is to see a story take shape right underneath your fingertips. Pulling off a scene that gripped me, even though I knew what was coming, gave me a little extra juice to come back to this goofy little hobby with new vigor.
So there we go. I’ve finished my goofy superhero novella, and now it’s back to a horror/drama novel that’s going to be even better, thanks to my detour writing about clingy cyborg girlfriends.
Fellow NaNo-ers: What did you learn this past month?