Friday, December 12, 2008

NaNo Lessons

This year I again participated in NaNo [National Novel Writing Month] and again I did not "win" by finishing a 50K novel in 1 month. What is funny is twice I've written books of more than 60K in under a month. It seems something about the deadline and visibility does something to me.

This brings me to the topic of today's blog. I'd like to share some lessons I learned about my own writing that may help you with yours.

I encourage you to never see something as failure. Everything is a learning experience that will redirect you. Just as no tragedy can destroy you as long as you find a way to come out better on the other side.

So why don't you look at things you HAVEN'T accomplished that you set out to do. See what it taught you. Then use that to become more successful next time.

1. Writing under deadline is harder than writing without one.

I already knew this since I write articles regularly for publication. I find that I can write 8 articles in a single day and then shop them around. However, if I have 1 article on assignment [which was sold on an idea rather than a full MS] it can take me hours to get a few paragraphs written.

2. When you ARE writing under deadline, don't get distracted.

This is the mistake I made this year. I had the entire book outlined. However, as I was writing the NaNo novel I also started researching another book. Normally this is how I keep my creativity flowing. Having the deadline, however, gave me an opportunity to procrastinate and be distracted. So, I didn't finish the book-and I didn't finish my research.

3. Keep moving, even if failure seems imminent.

It is tempting to get overwhelmed and give up when it's clear you won't be able to hit your goal. That doesn't mean you quit all together. You need to keep with your daily word count goal. While publishers don't like the "better late than never" attitude in contracted authors, since you're not really under contract now KEEP AT IT AND FINISH. It's better to be done December 20th because you kept going than it is to give up and end up with another partially finished MS.

4. Don't edit now.

Let your book flow out. It may feel like total junk but keep going. My first drafts are full of notes to myself. [for example I'll put "Make sure reader feels pressure to find the coins."] Those notes will help you edit and build up your story when you go back and do revisions. Those words tell you the tone and feel you had during the creative process. These elements are the "work" portion of writing. You need to focus on the creative portion on the first draft.

So, while I didn't reach my NaNo goal I did reach another one-to always provide you with relevant information that will help you grow as a writer and build your writing business.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
Read devotions for the Christian Writer every Tuesday at Writer's Rest.

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