My first novel, Unbroken, was written during the frenzy that is NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. Participants pledge to get their rears in gear and race to write 50 000 words. An easy feat for some, an uphill struggle for others.
During my first NaNo I learned an abundance of things, but I think the most important lesson I took away was that I was capable of accomplishing something as grand as writing a novel. The second most important thing I learned was that the real work comes after the first draft.
To be perfectly honest with you, my first draft of Unbroken is an ungodly mess. While there are no plot holes you can drive a submarine through, there are logic fails, unnecessary scenes, and plain old sub par writing. My current draft is much improved, but it's still not quite there. I was driven by the pressure to get to the finish line and I'm not going to say that my story suffered from it, it might have even benefited from the wild abandon that is NaNo, but most important, I learned from it.
During April, NaNo hosts another event they call Camp NaNoWriMo. During camp you set your own goal, you work on your own project, whether it be novel, screenplay, poetry, the sky is the limit. My project is a work in progress I call 'Ghost' and I vowed to write 30 000 words. I'm not going to make it. I stalled out at approximately 15 000 and then switched gears when my muse hammered me in a different direction. I'm now working on something I'm calling 'Clipped Wings' (it was formerly called Harley after my protagonist)
I took my time, I developed the arc, I have sub story, I have heart and soul. I'm not going to reach my Camp NaNo goal, but I'm okay with that. Even in losing, I feel like I've won simply because I've learned so much about myself as a writer and I've learned so much about my story and characters.
I forget who said it, but it goes something like this,
You never truly fail, until you fail to try.
Take that with you, friends. Remember it when you stumble.
I'd love to hear some of your own NaNo adventures. :)