How I used National Novel Writing Month to Restart My Writing.​

Hello Word Lovers! I know, you’re shocked. I actually posted two posts in one week, you probably think I have a case of the Body Snatchers going on over here. But honestly, I really am taking this seriously. But my return in October might have felt like the same old Newbie Writer. I mean I did a big triumphant post of my return, and then I disappeared for two months.

Well, I’ll have you know, November was National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short. Which I talked about here briefly. Well, I tried it again this year, but I didn’t start from scratch like I did last year.

Why I did not start with a new novel.

Well, last year I stopped writing my book to see if I could write a completely new novel from scratch in 30 days. Yeah, I fell flat on my face. Last year, I started a new job and I became pregnant… all in the month of November!

The fact that I needed to finish this book is a BIG reason why I didn’t put it to the side. For far too long has my first novel been sitting untouched. So I did like most people do and use it as a way to push through their current novel. And the fact that I scrapped the opening of my book, I needed the boost.

Say what!? You did not start over!

Technically I did. See, before I started this blog I did a workshop with Writer’s Digest. The workshop is called “The First Ten Pages”, and you send a specific word count to one of the designated editors working the workshop.

This provides a good critique for the opening of your story, and they also send you a few books on writing that work with the purpose of the workshop. That way, after the workshop you have these books to read and work on the changes suggested.

Her suggestion, throw the beginning away! Well in so many words. The editor told me in so many words that my pacing was too slow. So I rewrote the beginning to what she suggested, at which time she told me that the new beginning worked a lot better.

Haunting Words.

Like any writer, we are supposed to take all change suggestion under consideration with a grain of salt. After all, you are writing a novel, your novel. Unless you are ghost writing someone else’s novel, you write what you want!

But as writers, we like that validation when our writing works. And though it can be painful, we should also listen when something doesn’t work. That was me, I took what she said with a grain of salt, and decided to keep my opening how it was. I mean, I was following the rule, I had my first inciting incident happening within the first three chapters. I had built this understanding of my character’s life before shit was set to pop off and foreshadowed that her past was coming for her, so screw that, she’s wrong.

But the words still stung. A year later, they had seeped deep into my gut like bad food. I found that I could not finish my novel. With six chapters left I could not bring myself to finish. I even told myself “Look, girl, just finish it and you can change it in the second draft.” But it was too late, the idea had festered and it seemed to make my novel rot at its core.

Can I give up? 

I started to feel like a fraud. I couldn’t finish my own story that I created and have fully outlined! How do you have your novel mapped out and can’t finish? So with everything going wrong in my life, I decided to take a break and decide if I really wanted to be a writer.

My despair was so deep and set in that I couldn’t even bring myself to finish reading other writer’s books. So I went back for a few weeks, and I read everything that I had already written that wasn’t my current work in progress.

Do you know what found? That in every single story I had previously written, I had something in that first chapter that made me want to continue reading. So why had I strayed from this?

Renewed Creative Writing

I realized that, damn I am pretty good at this creative writing. I might not know exactly what writing category my stories fall under, but I had a damn good mind to create good stories.

So why was it with this story I was falling so flat and willing to give up? Because I let that criticism affect my creative flow, something that I should have never done. I was letting what I wrote affect how I felt about the novel. The rewrite that I had sent to her, I hated it and refused to believe it could be better than what I wrote. Using that rewrite meant I would have to scrap EVERYTHING that I had planned out and that just wasn’t going to work.

So with much, creative thinking, I decided on a different plan of action. My original beginning started to feel like one of those down points in the main characters life. You know where the character feels like they’ve ruined their life in every possible way and have no idea where to go. Yeah that where I was, and it built beautifully from there. At this point, I decided to push what was already written down a few chapters and build a new beginning. I turned a backstory chapter into the opening chapters and boom, I was off and running.

Thirty Days Later…

I used NaNoWriMo to rewrite the beginning of my book, adding a whopping seven new chapters to the beginning and three more towards the conclusion. I have four chapters left and my rough draft will be complete! Which, I plan on being done by Christmas (as if I don’t have enough crap to do already!).

So this is how I won NaNoWriMo, and with no outline for the beginning. And I learned two new valuable ways to getting my writing done: Word Sprints and using Speech-to-Text on my phone. By the end of November, I had a rough total of 53,000 words. This had helped me double my word count, after nearly quitting.

Back at it, for real this time. 

So in closing, my absence this November was a much-needed kick in the pants for my novel writing. I found a renewed creativity that I haven’t seen in years. And my beginning is kick ass awesome if I do say so myself.

With what I learned from partaking in writing sprints has changed how I work through writer’s block. Talking with other writers online made me feel like I’m not crazy for doing this and everyone out there deals with the same crap!

And with I leave this word of advice, never doubt yourself because of someones honest critique. I hated the first change I made for the sake of that critique, but that was me throwing something together without any love. If you love everything you write, it will show in your work. And NEVER give up on your true dreams. Later Word Lovers.

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