By Yvonne Green, Dec 11 2017 06:08PM
Things have finally settled down here after my mad writing month of November. The idea was that I would put everything on the back burner during December to concentrate on more pressing issues (like Christmas!) and begin the editing process in January. This I intend to do, but thought it might be good to reflect on what I did get done during November, and what I would do differently in 2018. It will be a reminder for me, and if you're thinking of diving in anytime, it might give you some help and advice too.
1. The most important thing I would not do, is to trial a new piece of software for writing the week before NaNo started. Especially since every review I had read, indicated that it was a 'steep learning curve'! And, my goodness, it was. I did manage to fumble my way through it and found ways to make it do what I wanted to do, but every book will get easier to do from now on. And of course, I did get to my 50,000 word target which was the main aim. This has allowed me to buy a lifetime subscription to it at a lovely 50% discount.
Scrivener is a fantastic tool if, like me, you write (or plan to write) books or courses with lots of information or research, or chapters, or characters etc. in. It enables you to have all that information and more in a 'binder' which shows down the side of your screen so that you can access it easily, move it around and much more. And you can compile your finished book in many different formats depending on which market you're aiming for. And there's so much more to it that I haven't even discovered yet, but I will, I'm sure.
2. I've also found some free (and some paid, but very low-cost) courses which I've downloaded to take as soon as the madness of the season has passed. Check out Udemy.com for courses in all sorts of subjects. I've signed up to a Scrivener one, which I'll take properly in January and then, when I come to edit and proof-read, I'll have much more idea of what I'm doing.
3. One thing I'll definitely be keeping up with, is my writing journal. It's there that I was able to log all the words done in a day, total word count and hours spent. A valuable reference for next time and great for motivation and seeing how far you've got. I also added things for writers to know, such as how many words for the average adult fiction novel, teen novel and more, as well as ideas for other books I plan to write. A definite must-have for me, as my everyday journal is full of things for home and work. Much better to have a separate one for the writing.
4. I didn't do as much 'NaNo' socialising as I could have because I was busy writing and running a business too, but I did manage to catch up with some local people who were also doing NaNo. This was a good thing which I will definitely do again. It's good to share experiences and ask questions. And talking about your novel helps you to focus on it more I think, and reminds you that you actually are a writer. This is something I'll get into earlier next year. I'm also looking at getting a new laptop so that I can take my work with me to the 'write-ins'.
5. I think I'll schedule just an hour a day for writing, instead of doing more hours on most days and then missing a couple of days. I found it quite tiring on the days when there was a lot to get through and setting aside some time just to write each day was one of my goals anyhow, so I'll organise this soon.
6. Although I had the story planned out quite well (it was started 30 years ago now!), I didn't count for what the characters would do, and found that their back-story was integral to the way the plot went. Next year, I'll take more care to cultivate my characters beforehand, so that I'm not having to stop and think 'what would he/she do now?'
I'll definitely have a plot, characters and locations mapped out before I start writing. Then all I have to do is write. I'm not a 'pantser' (flying by the seat of my pants). 'Pantsing' may be something for me to try sometime, but definitely not during NaNo!
7. I'll aso create a map for the territory. This avoids any obvious holes in the plot and I found that the place names kept changing as I went along, and thought of better ones, and it took me time to sort all that out which takes time away from the actual writing.
8. There was a 'dip' in the middle of the process when I thought that the whole thing was rubbish, and being able to go away from it for a while helped. I'm now using Dropbox as my backup drive which means I can access the files from anywhere and just sit and read through in quiet moments, which then helps me get back on track.
So have I enjoyed the experience? Yes. Tremendously. It's great being a part of something that millions are doing worldwide, and it's definitely achieved my aim of bringing me back to novel writing and given me some great ideas for other 'Rainbows Guides to' as well.
And of course the new software and writing experiences I've had will come in very useful for those books, and also for any new courses I may write. I even found some new programmes for creating online courses. That's something for me to look at. I have learned so much doing NaNo, and it's been well worth it, I think.
Will I do it again this year? Well, there's this little cozy mystery novel fermenting in my brain which may just be the thing. Or not - we'll see...