Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

Oh look, it’s two weeks into 2018 and I’m still blogging HOORAY!

I did tell you I was serious about this whole blog thing though (also I paid for this domain, and that’s the real motivator, isn’t it?). I even have a sticky note on my phone with future blog ideas on it, so if that isn’t organized I don’t know what is.

Another part of staying motivated is setting a schedule, and I’m not usually very good at making schedules for myself. If it’s for work then I’m great at following them, since I’m being paid to go their, but I find I don’t often listen to myself when I tell myself to do something. I’m a pretty good procrastinator.

I’m hoping to fix that though! I’ve decided to write a new blog post every Monday. I know it doesn’t have any alliteration like it would if I posted on Saturday or Sunday, but during the weekdays I have very little time to fit in writing for this blog on top of all the other writing I plan on doing, I need my weekends for this blog.

So today I wanted to talk about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for those familiar with it. NaNoWriMo takes place every November for writers around the world to participate in (for FREE!) with the goal to write a 50000 word novel in a month (which averages to 1667 words per day). The NaNoWriMo website gives a handy dandy little graph for writers to update and keep track of their process and forums where writers can talk about their writing, work on prompts or word sprints, or even find and build writing communities in their own cities or towns.

I’ve tried participating in NaNoWriMo in the past and haven’t been very successful. I first started in 2011 with a murder mystery Shakespeare-inspired story and surprisingly got to 23516 words (which sixteen-year-old Sarah was very proud of) but then I stopped. I got writer’s block and freaked out about not having any more words inside my head to finish the story and gave up.

In 2012 I signed up with a story called The Odds, which I only have a vague recollection of being about bad luck and curses, and only reached 5486 words before giving up. The story wasn’t good enough, not even for me to remember apparently.

In 2016 I signed up with a Canadian historical fiction idea and only wrote 1560 words. I felt that it wasn’t good, and gave up after my first day of writing.

Do you see a pattern?

My biggest flaw when writing is that I’m a perfectionist. For so long I would go back to what I had previously written and attempt to fix it before going on with the story. When trying to fix what I’d already written and seeing it wasn’t as good as I originally thought, I didn’t even bother continuing with the story, even though a lot of the times it was an idea I started out being excited with. In my eyes I wasn’t good enough, so I gave up and went on to another idea, where the pattern continued again and again and again.

Which is why in 2017 when I participated in NaNoWriMo I changed my thought process, all thanks to fantasy author V.E. Schwab. In April 2017, Schwab uploaded a video to her youtube channel called “Shiny New Ideas” where she talked about her own struggles finishing her novels. Schwab talked about how she will start to doubt the story as she’s writing it and get other ideas that are more tempting to write than what she is currently trying to finish. She explained that the first draft of what you write is going to be bad, but that’s the point. You have to hash out all your ideas for your story, everything you want to do and go back to it after to fix it, to make it good and something you’re proud of.

So I followed Schwab’s advice, and for NaNoWriMo 2017 I wrote a 50000 word (okay, it’s actually 51025 words, but who’s counting?) novel inspired by the history of The Black Donnelly’s (which if you haven’t heard about before you really should check out). And you know what? It sucks. It is literal crap. But it’s mine, and even though I hit the word count, I know I’m far from done.

Which leads me to the next part. Now I have to edit it, and I’ve never done that before.

I mean, I’ve edited other people’s essays and fictions, and I’ve looked over my own work for grammar and such, but never a novel, and not mine.

And it’s scary, because I know that I’ll have to go back to that story and see all my mistakes again, and I have to try to tell myself that it’s still worth editing and fixing despite how bad it is. I have to keep reminding myself that this is what happens, that this is how you make something better, that this is the process to getting something published. I have to keep telling myself now to give up like all the times before.

But I don’t want to do it. I have so many tempting thoughts of just letting the story sit here on my laptop, collecting virtual dust (I told you that would come up again), and hope I can make something better. But the thing is, I like this story. I like the idea, and I know that I have to do so much to make it better, but this is an idea that’s been with me for awhile now and I don’t want it to die.

So let the editing begin I guess! I’ll probably make some whiny updates on here while I dredge through the crap, but hopefully I can make it something I’m proud of in the end.

3 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Now What?

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