Now What? Another Year of NaNoWriMo Comes to an End

The annual November tradition of writing at least 50k words of a novel has wrapped up again. Just like every November since 2015, I've pulled off the victory. Actually, I beat my previous word count record by hitting over 70k words, and my time record by writing 50K words by November 21. I am surprised that I was able to pull both off, because this novel was drastically different than most of my previous, which had been supernatural horror adult stories while this one was a children's fairy tale similar in style to Alice in Wonderland and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Considering my experience with fairy tales is making them up on the fly for my kids on long car rides and I've never tried this genre at this length, and the fact that November is more about quantity and words over quality and coherence, I am extremely happy with how it has turned out. It is definitely the epitome of a first draft with several scenes and moments just thrown out there because they jumped in my head rather than it smoothly fitting into the story. I also don't feel like I completely mastered the tone or writing style with some drastic shifts at various points through the month as I wrote. There is a lot of work to be done on 'fixing' this novel. It is a solid start.

The yearly challenge of November writing is to push yourself into actually taking a chance at writing that novel that you keep saying you are going to do and as well, just get into the habit of writing several words a day. It is about making daily creative writing a routine. It is about getting a little anxiety with a deadline looming and knowing you need a certain amount of words written. This is all crucial if one aspires for writing to be a major part of their life. In my case, I wanted all the badges that can be earned, which meant I needed to write at least 1666 words for my novel every day.

This means the type of novel writing in November is very different than the writing every other month. Now that December has arrived, I am not obsessed with my word count, and I can slow down to focus on exactly where I want this story to go, and begin to cut out all the parts that don't work (deleting words is a November sin). The novel is incomplete, but I plan to start going through it from the start to get a better grasp on the direction and definitely the writing style that I want through the entire novel.

The month also revealed to me that writing a children's novel is a blast. While I always believed my strength was in the supernatural horror realm, I may try to tackle another children's novel after this one. Maybe I will even jump on that fad of doing a children's novel series or promote myself up to YA writer. It would at least get my kids more excited about what I write.

I should also not that Everett, who has been taking part in this challenge for four years, also was a victor. He enrolled in the Young Writers version, which means he can choose his word count goal, and he aimed for 10k, but ended up writing 15k. Of course, I am very proud of all the work he put into it, and he seems happy with what he has created. He did tell me that next year he plans to move his goal up to 20k. 

The big question is what do I do with the novels after I write them? Well, I must shamefully confess that most of them are incomplete. My first goal is choosing one of the manuscripts, and finishing the entre first draft. After the first draft is done, I put it aside for six weeks, while I work on other things.

I take the six weeks away from a novel approach from Stephen King. The idea is that it is enough time for me to be emotionally detached from the work, and I can return to it with a fresh perspective. Then I go through it, and essentially write a second draft. The plan is to clean it up, so that I can show it to trusted readers. From there, I look at the critiques from my 'beta readers' and when I am happy with my work, I finally take the plunge in shopping it around to agents.

Novel writing is a pure hobby and side project at this point. My main job is still writing marketing material for various clients. The other part of my job is writing and pitching various articles to editors. But if I can find the magic elixir of managing all my different jobs and projects (don't forget this site and the podcast) while also being a stellar dad and husband, then my hope is I'll have a manuscript to potentially send out to agents by the start of the summer (June). 

As we enter into a new year, my plan is to be far more upfront and honest about my various writing projects and the progress in my writing career. Part of that is accountability, but as well, my desire to help motivate and offer inspiration or even advice for other aspiring writers. If I can share my failures and my victories, then there should be value for others that want to take on this challenge and journey too.

For now, I will bask in the glory of another NaNoWriMo victory, and be appreciative of the fact that I don't need to churn out 8k words every single day. 

How was November? Did you take on the NaNoWriMo challenge? How did you do? What are some of your big goals in the coming months?