NaNoWriMo 2010 will come to an end this evening. I plan to be snuggled in my warm bed with my blanket pulled up to my ears. Another win under my NaNo belt.
I noticed a number of differences between this year and last year:
1. I love this story so much more than last year's story. I should really say that I was in love with last year's idea more than the end product, which is probably a direct result of my lack of novel writing experience. What I had in my head did not come through on paper. It was disappointing, but then again, it was my first novel. It was my starting point. Someday I would love to bring those characters back to life.
2. I had no idea where to start with this novel. Last year I had the opening sentence in my head ready to go when I opened my eyes on November 1st. This year, not so much. I sat at my laptop and stared at the blank screen for about ten minutes before I typed the first word.
3. I struggled more this year with pacing. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not every single detail needs to be written into the story, which is what was happening last year. My main character works in a diner, but we don't need to know every tiny detail of her workday, or what happens on her way home from work (unless it pertains to the plot or subplot). Who cares that she couldn't find a decent radio station or that she ate a bag of M&Ms because she hadn't had time for lunch? I ran into that problem last year and I made an effort this time around. I think it paid off.
4. I'm learning! I could tell about one week in that I had learned quite a lot between last year and this year. Like last year, I wrote this story in third person. I toyed with the idea of first person, but I realized a few days before NaNo started that I wouldn't be able to tell the story I wanted by sticking with my main character's POV. I'm glad I made the switch because I was able to write from two different POVs and also had the chance to write from the perspective of a sympathetic antagonist. Who knew I could write so well as an ex-con? I was also more aware of switching POVs. It's tempting to switch in mid-scene, but I was careful not to head-hop.
5. I still have lots more to learn. This is only my second novel (and I never fully revised the first one). I'm a beginner, but I'm okay with that status. For now. I hope that with each one I will learn more and grow as a writer.
6. NaNo has its pros and cons. The biggest pro? Getting in the habit of writing every day. I'm a sucker for a serious deadline, so that's why this works for me. Without the deadline? I flounder. I hope to keep up a decent pace so I can finish by my birthday (mid-January). The other pro is that NaNo lets me squash my inner critic. She is a boisterous gal, but I've learned to keep her in check. As for the cons, NaNo does focus on quantity over quality. Now that doesn't mean that I typed away without thinking of plot or character motivation. There were days when I wanted to write, but knew that I needed to sit and think for an hour or so. Sometimes I stopped in mid-scene because as I wrote I thought, "My main character would never do that!" So yes, there is a somewhat haphazard approach to writing. I've learned that while I'm not a total plotter/planner, I also can't completely make things up on the spot. I need to do plenty of prep work and research (how I love my research!) and I need direction.
As happy as I am to be done with NaNo, there's a little part of me that will miss the frenzied pace of writing. I'll miss word count checks. And more than anything, I will miss having something to call my own - this little (or not-so-little) challenge. Just me against my evil inner critic...and I won!