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December 4, 2014

NaNoWriMo Musings - Brianna Robinson, All Done!

Posted by Shara
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You've heard from her on Day 7 and on Day 20. Now that it's December, it means that NaNoWriMo is over and Teenreads intern Brianna Robinson is all done! Did she meet her goal? Read below to find out, as well as what the experience taught her overall. 


I don’t know exactly how I finished NaNoWriMo but I did! At 12 AM on December 1st, I just managed to hit 50,000. No one was more shocked than I.

 

 

 

I was sure I couldn’t do it. I told everyone who asked (and even some who didn’t) that I wasn’t going to make it. After a nasty virus, a Thanksgiving spent in bed watching cooking shows and a sinus infection to boot, I was pretty sure that I couldn’t even come up with anything to type, let alone the 15,000 I needed to catch up on.

But somehow, I did it. And three days past the deadline, I still have no interest in looking at the first 50K I wrote. I don’t think I’ll have the urge to look at it for a very long time.

But that’s okay! At least, I think it is. I’m going to take the time I need to get rejuvenated and then work on the rest of the manuscript --- because 50K isn’t really a novel. For the YA Contemporary that I have planned, 75,000 or 80,000 are more appropriate lengths. Not to mention that what I have down in Scrivener right now doesn’t feel even half cooked.

Eventually, though, I’ll finish. That’s the first step. Almost every piece of writing advice I’ve heard starts and ends with finishing what you’ve started. Neil Gaiman said it in his advice to authors page, and, as Terry Pratchett said, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

And by telling myself most of the story, I’ve learned a lot. I learned who my characters are and what their voices sound like. I’ve mostly learned where the story is going and what bits and pieces from the original idea didn’t work. I also learned that I am quite capable, with a lot of caffeine and emotional support, of writing 15,000 words in a day.

I know that I will probably end up hating 98% of what I wrote down these past few months. But I have as long as I need now to take it apart and put it back together.

NaNo was perfect for someone like me because I desperately needed to build the foundation of what I wanted to write. I needed the discipline, the camaraderie and focus. I don’t think I would have pushed through the last half with quite as much tenacity if I weren’t doing this for NaNoWriMo. But I had made a promise to myself and even if it was unofficially, I still kept the promise.

Now, in the coming weeks and months, I’m going to read more. I slowed down my reading this month because I didn’t want to get too caught up on other characters. But now I’m definitely going to read more contemporary books. I’m going to pay more attention to websites like: http://www.publishingcrawl.com. I’m going to read more about characters and viewpoints and structure, because reading about the craft will always help me improve.

And I’m going to keep finding motivation and inspiration in the little things. I started cooking and baking this month more than usual and realized that my passion for recipes and sweet things might come in handy in this novel. Or not. The point is that because I was so hyper aware with writing this past month, I kept my eyes and ears open for things that could help me. I always try to do this, but now I’m going to do it much more.

I think the takeaway here also is pretending, in a small or large-scale way, that every month is NaNo. I want to talk about my writing with friends, I want us to cheer each other on, I want to grab inspiration from anything I think might be the least bit inspiring. If I did this, I know I can be productive. I might also be over-caffeinated, but that’s just a struggle I’ll have to endure.

I hope all of you had NaNo success in whatever way you measure it. A friend of mine wrote 30,000 words but was happy with the quality of it. He didn’t need to finish the 50K. And I wish you best of luck with the rest of the draft or editing. Keep working on it and finish what you started.

Here’s to the next 50K!

 

 

Brianna Robinson is a Teenreads.com intern.