December 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Reflections

NaNoWriMo is over for another year. I got a nearly-completed draft of a novel, and won with just over 55,000 words. And as always, I learned a few things along the way.

The first big thing I discovered is how naturally I gravitate towards short fiction. It is easy for me to tell a full story in 5,000 words (or even fewer than that!). But I have a lot of trouble sustaining my arc and my characters over the long haul. I know that this is something I can improve upon with practice and extensive revision, and it's something I plan to work on - I want to have a wide range of talents and not just limit myself to writing short pieces. But it's interesting for me to notice just how natural short stories feel to me.

The second big thing I learned relates to the first. This year, I realized that I am very bad at pacing myself. Well, maybe "very bad" is a bit of an overstatement. Again, this relates to my natural talent for short stories, whereas my struggle to learn to write long pieces. When I start a new project, I immerse myself in it. I let it consume my time. I throw myself into research, drafting, and revision until it's done. Well, sort of. This works really well for short stories. But with novels, I throw myself in completely, and then burn out. The frantic pace at which I like to work is great for writing short pieces because the short story is done before I get tired of it. But a novel, on the other hand? Not so much. I need to learn how to write long pieces in a way that's efficient, but won't leave me burned out halfway through.

Anyway, I had a great year, and I'm already worldbuilding and researching for NaNo 2011!

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