Saturday, December 3, 2011

Post-NaNo Thoughts

Well, stamp a big ol' FAIL across my efforts to blog my NaNo process.

But you can stamp a big ol' WINNER on me, because I did finish the challenge. With three hours to spare!

It feels good. It also feels weird. This is the first year that I haven't had someone watching me sweat through the process and waiting to celebrate with me at the end. It's sad, but it's also awesome because it was all me this year. I had the support of friends and family but getting through this NaNo was an intensely personal and private experience.

I wrote a blog about the things I'd learned by the midway point. Now I'd like to talk about the things that I'm taking away from the month as a whole.
  1. Live your life. I couldn't just cancel all my plans and dig myself a hole to sit in with my laptop. I am a shy, introverted person; oftentimes digging a hole to hide in seems like the best available option. But I can't do it. I have to find a balance between going out and about and being by myself. There's a steep learning curve, I find, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. 
  2. Do what it takes. Keeping #1 in mind, I realize that I do need to make sacrifices if I want to continue my life as a writer. Canceling my cable and internet was possibly the second best decision I made all month (this first was seeing The Airborne Toxic Event in concert). While I still managed to squeeze some Netflix time out of my tethered cell phone connection, not having the option to veg out in front of some long-canceled TV show forced me to make writing my go-to activity. It really helped. 
  3. Practice. That's what I consider this year's NaNo. The previous two that I completed are stories that I believe I have a shot at finishing and publishing someday. This year, not so much. This year's novel was more about getting to know my characters, understanding motivation, and accepting the fact that sometimes what comes out of a writing binge is just word salad. But maybe, just maybe, you re-read it later and find a nugget worth carrying around and ruminating on. I think I got that this year and I feel lucky to have done so.
Overall, I'm exceptionally pleased with myself for completing my third NaNoWriMo challenge. And so far, I'm keeping up the momentum by working on my previous project rather diligently.
Did you learn anything this November? How do you feel about your results?