I Think I’m Breaking Up With NaNo

In a recent blog tour post for the re-release of her book Double Blind, Heidi Cullinan talked about how she’d originally written the book, the sequel to Special Delivery, during National Novel Writing Month. (And oh, by the way, if you haven’t read them? GO. Get caught up on the series now, because Tough Love is out next month.) Anyway, Heidi talked about how writing Double Blind was low pressure because Special Delivery had been sold but not released yet, so there was no one champing at the bit for her to finish.

My first novel, Sand & Water, was written during NaNo, too. (A year after Heidi’s, in fact.) I had a pretty solid story summary and the first 200 words written when I woke up on November 1 and dove in. I wrote 63,000 words in November and the other 23,000 or so in December. (I also realized about 30,000 words in that the original summary wasn’t going to be enough story, so I added on the remaining story that I’d thought might fit into a sequel. First lesson: you’re probably going to need more story than you think. LOL) And then I revised for a couple of months, submitted, and got published later that year.

I haven’t finished another novel since.

Oh, I’ve tried NaNo again. Sand & Water was my second NaNo project, actually. I wrote a fanfic project the first time around. But in the three years since my last success, I haven’t come close to finishing anything. I’ve tried several different methods, including some of the ones that helped with Sand & Water, but nothing has worked.

It’s a bit too early in the year for me to decide if I’ll give NaNo another shot in 2014. But even if I do decide against it, the experience has taught me that one size doesn’t fit all applies to everything, not just to differences between authors. Every story stands alone. Even when you’re writing a series, each book needs its own space and its own special handling.

Sand & Water is a fairly light, sweet romance, low on angst and conflict. I still like it. It’s the kind of book I like to read, and I’m proud to have my name on it. But writing it was akin to someone with a lot of debt paying off an account with a low balance. I got a great sense of accomplishment and pride, but that was just the first step.

Almost two years ago, I started on a new novel centered around a main character who’s loosely based on a friend of mine. I’ve written on it sporadically throughout that time. I’ve set it aside to work on shorter projects and then come back to it. It’s been my NaNo project. I’ve summarized it, used various plotting methods, brainstormed, and put into practice every other idea I can think of to get the damn thing written.

It’s still not done.

So. My goal for the rest of March is to finally finish this book. I’m pulling out all the stops. Call it National Novel FINISHING Month, maybe. But by April 1, I am determined to have a draft, no matter how rough it might be.

No foolin’. And no excuses.

Maybe Heidi will send Randy Jansen over to ride herd until I’m done.

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One response to “I Think I’m Breaking Up With NaNo

  1. Sarah_Madison

    I have to say, the only time I tried NaNo, it triggered my first and worst case of writer’s block. I got so focused on the word count, becoming panicked every day as I saw myself falling farther behind. In the end, I completely forgot that left to my own devices, I could easily write between 2-3 K words a day. NaNo almost killed that.

    I’m just saying this because I don’t think NaNo is for everyone–and that no one should feel bad if it is not for them. 🙂 What has been the most help for me has been forming a small critique group. We trade chapters every two weeks and meet on Skype to discuss them. It keeps me focused and on my toes–and working on a regular basis, which is necessary for me! 🙂

    Good luck on finishing your novel–the determination to do it is the biggest hurdle to overcome!