||[Dec. 14th, 2010|02:33 pm]
To those who might be curious: the last time I posted here--over a month ago--I was about to embark on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short), a mad sprint to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days or less. I am here to say that I successfully completed that goal!|
This exercise was a good kick-in-the-pants to help me get started. Had I not done it, I'm sure "Write a novel" would have sat on my to-do list of creative projects for months (if not years) before I got to it. And even then, how long would it have taken me to finish?
I should mention that, even though I reached 50,000 words and the end of the story, I'm still far from done. I need to heavily revise the whole thing and expand it by another 30,000 words or so before it's anywhere close to publishable. Writing so quickly led to a lot of sloppy prose, plot holes, and scenes that don't work; this means that fixing my first draft into something more polished is probably taking more time and effort than it would have if I'd written at a more deliberate pace. It's still too early to say, but I'm guessing it will balance out, time-wise.
Still, I think the project was well-suited to how I work. I've done enough comics and other large-scale creative works in the past to know two things about my habits:
1.) I can get the work done, but I'm slow. It's easy for me to skip a day or two or five because something more pressing demands my attention.
2.) My "point of no return" is usually about 25%. That is, once I'm more than a quarter of the way into a project, I'll see it through to completion, but up until then, it's easy for doubt (or common sense, depending on the case) to creep in and cause me to abandon it.
The great things about NaNoWriMo were that: 1.) it forced me to work every single day in order to finish on time, and 2.) the constant momentum got me to the 25% point before I really had much chance to think about bailing. Plus, I had announced my goal publicly and had some other friends working on the same thing, so that kept me more motivated to finish.
I met a lot of interesting people over the course of the month, through online message boards and real-life meetups, and it seems that a lot of them didn't plan to publish at all; they were just doing it as a personal challenge. This makes sense to me: not everyone is a professional-level writer, but that's no reason not to try. It's like running a marathon or climbing a mountain or learning an instrument: it's fun and educational and good for you. I think a month is a good amount of time to risk on writing a novel--it's long enough that you can't take it too lightly, but not long enough that you'll be devastated if the results aren't all you hoped for.