War of the Words– My NaNoWriMo Battle Story

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Let it be known that unless I write 25,000 words within the next 3 days, I am officially a NaNoWriMo 2013 Failure. I should feel regret, but I can’t hear it beneath the sound of Mario Kart in the background. So, since this month could not be the productive boon I hoped and expected it to be, enjoy a post on the many things failure has taught me.

1) I can’t write in order. At all.

That whole ‘sit down and write from beginning to end and never stop’ thing? Yeah, it didn’t work. I know this wasn’t a hard and fast rule, but when you jump in with a concept and little plot, it’s hard for someone like me (read: OCD) to jump around the story without a road map. And without this jumping around, it turns out my writing slows to a crawl. Go figure. My reason? I’m too much of a control freak and the idea of plot threads dangling in the wind makes me want to go alphabetize a spice cabinet…

 2) I can rarely write more than the allotted 1667 words per day.

This, again, probably hails back to my OCD tendencies. See, once I hit that magical, luscious 1667, my browser drifts to tumblr and facebook, and my mind drifts to Mario Kart, chores that don’t really need to be done, and random ideas that have nothing to do with the book I’m writing. Unfortunately, the OCD that drives me to finish at precisely 1667 words does not drive me to get there when I’m under the word count. Go figure.

3) My room turns into a wreck when my plot isn’t hashed out.

I’ve probably spent more time cleaning my room during NaNoWriMo than actually writing. I could blame it on the plot books littering my desk, or the random pens and notebooks strewn across the room. Or I could blame it on an artsy tendency to match my environment with my current mental state. I think I’ll go with the latter because it makes me sound like a creative type, and that sounds important for writing a novel.

 4) I’m a sporadic writer.

It’s not that I don’t write. It’s that my writing comes in fits and bursts, even if I don’t wait for inspiration— even if I plop myself down in a chair, turn off the internet, and force myself to churn out words letter by painful letter. The closest thing I can approximate this to is a crock pot. Yes, my brain is a crock pot, and if I throw the vegetables in it and immediately expect to be eating, I’m setting myself up for major disappointment. For some odd reason crock pots (and my brain) require time to cook a plot or meal. Which is a shame, really, because I’d love to use my brain’s version of fast food for my writing.

5) Surprisingly, I can string together a semi-coherent beginning without too many complications.

When I look back on what I’ve written, I expect to see disaster, but instead I see a relatively decent beginning of a novel. Turns out if you give yourself a setting, conflict, an interesting character, and a few themes thrown in, the beginning tends to write itself. At least, if you’re like me and terrified of meandering in a plot, your inciting incident and first doorway tend to write themselves. Otherwise your character sits in his house and does nothing for the rest of your NaNoWriMo adventure, and you try to eat your writerly sadness away with tubs of ice cream.

 6) I can’t be coaxed into writing more words by competition.

No, I don’t care how many words you can write in the next ten minutes. I will happily sit here and stare at my blank screen as my brain does somersaults trying to figure out what to write next. Turns out my ridiculously competitive spirit doesn’t extend to word wars, or even to finishing NaNoWriMo for that matter, which is a shame, because I thought I had found the ultimate bribery tool for myself.

All in all, though, I’m satisfied with my experience. I didn’t achieve the 50,000 I wanted to, but I have a solid beginning to a book that (with revision) proves to be interesting and layered, and I can’t ask for much more. Plus, it’s almost time to edit my finished second novel, a process I am looking forward to maybe a bit too much. Surely tearing apart my own work can’t be any fun…right?

Well, at least my inner editor is happy.

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