Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Lessons Learned from National Novel Writing Month

Well I did it! 

It was my first time participating in National Novel Writing Month this year and I reached 38k. Now some might consider that a failure, since the aim is to reach 50k, but I remain pleased with myself. By the end of November, I was 38,000 words further ahead than I was at the start of the month, and I'm well on the way to reaching the end of the first draft now. It will grow bigger too, as I carefully edit it.

What did I learn?

I learnt that I should've planned better first. It was quite hard-going in places trying to keep the daily word-count up. I was still working out mini plots and doing research to establish what is, and what isn't, realistic. My whole plot almost fell apart when I discovered that clinical trials can take ten years to complete. Ten years! That messes up my whole plot entirely! Then hubby pointed out that they manage to bring out new flu vaccines very quickly, so I figure there's some flexibility around that figure.

However the aim of National Novel Writing Month, to complete 50k, does assume that you've already done your research and you're not too far off working out your plot. So perhaps my lack of preparation was my downfall.

What else did I learn? Stop editing perhaps? Editing while I wrote probably didn't help either. If you decide to edit, then you probably won't 'win'. I realised this early on but decided to edit anyway. I figured that if the earlier plots weren't right, then continuing on a theme that was wrong, was just going to end up with a rubbish manuscript. I'm keen to get it right, rather than just do it fast, so I took time out for a little editing too.

Will I do it next year? 

I'll see how I feel. Let's just see how long it takes to complete this first novel and go from there.

Did you take part?

If so, what did you take away from the National Novel Writing Month experience? Do tell in the comments below.