Improving My Craft, NaNoWriMo

October/November Wrap-Up

When last I posted, my 30 stories in 30 days project was proceeding well. October ended, and so did the project. All-in-all, it was a successful exercise. I did not produce the full 30 stories, but I did manage 24, which I think is pretty good.

Will I revise and try to sell every single story? No. But I’ve gotten a few good ones out of the bunch. A few of the stories will remain flash pieces, and there are a couple of them that I’m expanding into full short stories.

Forcing myself to sit down and generate ideas–because that’s what the project turned out to be–was a useful exercise. It got me out of my rut, and broke through some of the blocks I’d been dealing with.

Of course, the other big news from the past two months is NaNoWriMo. I was on the fence about participating in NaNo this year. I did NaNo in 2014 and 2015, and both times I won, but both times, the process burned me out on the story so badly that I just couldn’t manage to go back to the story and finish it. For NaNo 2016, I revisited the 2015 story, but 20k words in, I started feeling that feeling of “I hate everything about this story” again.

This isn’t like my normal mid-story burn-out. I’ve written novel-length pieces before outside of NaNo, and yes, mid-story is hard, but I’ve always been able to recognize that as just being in the “Great Swampy Middle.”

The difference between slogging through the swampy middle of a story and just being burned out and hating it is hard for me to explain. Middles are hard. They’re hard to get through, they’re hard to navigate. But I don’t hate them.

Something about the pacing of NaNo, though, and the forced wordcount, and the need to blaze on at breakneck pace regardless of… well… anything, just kills a story for me. This tells me that NaNoWriMo, while a great program and something I wholeheartedly support, just may not be the best way for me to produce.

I think I’m okay with that. Part of this whole process these last few years has been learning how I write best, so each success or failure leads me closer to that understanding.

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