It’s July. International novel writing month is in November. You should participate this year. See what you have on your schedule for November. Clear what you can, and keep your evenings open. Nanowrimo takes at least two hours per day on average if you write with reckless abandon, and you should.
Nanowrimo rewards you with a huge mass of useful text, pieces of a story, maybe even a plot, but not a novel, definitely not a novel. Let me re-iterate. You do not write a novel for Nanowrimo. Nanowrimo is called International novel writing month, but that’s a misnomer. You are not writing a novel in November this year, you are writing 50,000 words for Nanowrimo. This is an important distinction.
Nanowrimo forces you to put your characters through problem after problem, to face challenges, and overcome them. Regardless of the problem and regardless of their solutions, they did it, and so did you. You may re-write each and every problem, but you now have an idea what it takes to really put a cast of characters through a long-form fiction plot. In short it takes a lot of words.
In December, you probably won’t want to look at your 50,000 words. If you do, that’s great, but you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t because you need time to ease out of reckless abandon mode. After November, consequences come back into play. The end result starts to matter again. When you compare the result of your 30 days of creative brain purging with a quality story, worthy of publishing, you’re going to be disappointed.
Once you’ve separated yourself from that period of binge writing, you can see your amassed work with the proper perspective. It took me two years. At this point you can actually start crafting your novel. Before you do Nanowrimo you couldn’t possibly have crafted a novel, unless you’re already an author. The rest of us non-authors need Nanowrimo to get passed that massive hurdle of story-telling.
Now that you’re ready to deal with the consequences of your writing, you should start organizing top down. Re-write your plot outline, maybe you didn’t have one to begin with, that’s fine. Write one now, based loosely on your pile of 50,000 words. Ditch the stuff that sucked, fill it in with ideas you get for making it awesome, reorganize it so that it makes sense and seems like it might be compelling. Don’t worry about filling the story in with awesome yet, because you need an awesome structure, an awesome backbone. Without an awesome backbone, your story will fall over under the weight of all of its awesomeness. That’s a lot of awesome.
The filling up with awesome will come later, and you should do whatever it takes, but don’t abandon your pile of 50,000 words. There’s gold in there. You might not have seen it, but it’s there. And besides that little bit of gold, there’s a whole lot of slightly less valuable stuff that can be cleaned up, polished, and sold at a reasonable price. 50,000 words of it. That’s a lot of profit to be made when you get around to doing the work.
I kind of feel like I’m regurgitating Nanowrimo inspirational blog posts that I’ve read on my own journey. But, as I work on my novel, everything I’ve written here so far really rings true. So, do it. You’ll be glad you did. And more than that, I want to read your final work, after the polishing of course. If you don’t write it, how am I gonna get to do that?