Starting Prep for NaNoWriMo: Learning from Past Mistakes

So, I’m starting my NaNoWriMo prep a bit differently than most.

Last year, I participated in National Novel Writing Month, the challenge for writers to write 50,000 words in one month. And last year, I failed that challenge. Don’t cry for me, Argentina. Despite not reaching my goal, I still learned a lot about myself as a writer. That experience lit a fire under me, and I’m happy I tried NaNoWriMo. With November right around the corner, I’m ready to try again.

I’m incredibly critical of myself. And an incurable perfectionist. In previous blog posts, I made notes for improvement on my writing during November. Today, I’m tackling the mistakes I made during my last NaNoWriMo run head on. Here are, what I consider to be, my weak points, and my plans for improvement. (Cue the demise of my self-esteem)

Stop Trying to be Perfect

Remember when I said I am an incurable perfectionist? I wasn’t kidding. Last NaNoWriMo, I feel like I did not let myself free write because one bad sentence was nagging at me. Or the ideal phrasing wasn’t immediately coming to mind. And then there’s that self-doubt that all writers have. “Everything you’re writing is trash. Everything you’re even thinking about writing is trash. You should just stop, stop forever and eat potato chips all day.” I mean, that’s what my voice of doubt sounds like. I just want my story to be perfect. But I know that no story is perfect, and I should get over that idea.

Solution: Accept that writing garbage is okay. That not every word out of my brain will be amazing. That at least half of those 50,000 words will probably be changed. Just to write without stopping myself because something doesn’t sound right. In the words of Hemingway “The first draft of anything is garbage”. Next month, I’ll fight the urge to edit and perfect until December.

Focus On One Scene At A Time

If you can’t tell already, my brain is easily distracted. I have a bad habit of jumping around from scene to scene, writing small bits here and there. Then, I find myself losing focus and becoming frazzled. When I try to write a bunch of bits for a bunch of different parts, I become overwhelmed and nothing gets done.

Plan of Attack: This one’s hard. I need to work on my focus. I need to push myself to concentrate on one scene at a time. I can’t write the whole novel all at once. My best bet is to tackle certain sections or scenes during November.

Write More Descriptions

Well, writing descriptions wasn’t, and maybe still isn’t, my strongest suit as a writer.  Actually, I recently wrote a post centered around tips for writing setting descriptions. I talked about how I struggle with writing about the setting. Usually, dialogue comes first to me when I’m writing. But a forest is just a forest right? Wrong.

Plan of Attack: Let’s just say, I’m working on it. I’m more mindful of how the people and the places in my stories look. My goal is to paint a vivid, realistic picture for the reader. Trying my best to tap into sensory details of settings and also the unique physical features of my characters.

Lost Connection

I’ll be honest, there were moments I didn’t feel connected to my characters nor to the time period. To quote myself from the previous year “It was like we were once roommates, living together and then, they became the neighbors down the street. An unexplained distance came between me and this story idea.” Think about it, I’m a modern-day lady writing in the perspective of a young man living in the roaring 20’s. How can I possible fit into those shoes?

Solution: Well, for starters, this year, the big bang happened. By completely changing the plot, I feel much more confident in my story idea. As for the characters, I’m gonna try a couple of things this October. Really flush some characters out and get to know them inside and out. I want to make sure that they’re 3-dimensional characters. As for the setting, research is important. I’ve already collected some resources to help me understand that time period. The goal is to be as accurate as possible.


What would you say was your weak point from last NaNoWriMo? And what are you doing to overcome it and improve for this year? Let me know in the comments, lovelies.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

 

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5 thoughts on “Starting Prep for NaNoWriMo: Learning from Past Mistakes

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