NaNoWriMo: Not This Year


THE IDES OF OCTOBER ARE UPON US.

Shit, never mind, that was yesterday. See, I thought yesterday was the fourteenth when I thought of this post, and I was going to write it after work with that hook, thinking that I’d schedule it to be posted today, but then I realized that yesterday was the fifteenth so I’ve missed the Ides of October. Technically, though, the sixteenth still counts, so screw it, I’m running with it.

Anyway, it’s about that time of year I decide what I’m doing for NaNoWriMo. And I’ve decided that I’m not doing a damn thing.

I recently picked up one of my old manuscripts and started editing it. And I’m super into the process right now, extremely excited by it in fact.

I mentioned a book called 2k to 10k a while back, and in addition to being a great motivator, it also has a pretty good how-to for editing big projects. Basically, she suggests starting with the big issues first, then working your way through the edits until all you’re editing is minutiae. It’s a great plan, and I was just beginning to implement its practices when I found a new indispensable resource called The Story Grid.

Lucy Flint wrote a great blog post about the Story Grid that convinced me to immediately start reading it. It took a StoryGridfew weeks, but I’m done now, and it definitely lives up to the term life-changing. The hard copy is pricey, though, and I’m poor, so I read it via the author’s blog, where he has the whole thing up for free. Just scroll down to the Story Grid Catch-Up to start reading from the beginning.

I think the biggest benefit I got out of my reading is the breakdown of parts of a story. Writing teachers will talk about climax and resolution and all that, but Shawn Coyne goes into so much more detail, and it’s really massively changed the way I look at writing scenes.

So now I’m combining both these books, 2k to 10k and The Story Grid to edit my manuscript. Like I said, I’m really excited about it.

But because of that, I won’t have time for NaNoWriMo. And that’s okay. Maybe next year I’ll feel like challenging myself again. If I end up falling through with my editing plans while everyone is finishing new novels, that’s okay, too. Live and learn.

I feel like NaNoWriMo was, for awhile, a dragon I was chasing. I “won” last year, but the story sucked. That’s not to say that NaNo produces bad stories, but rather that I produced a bad story doing NaNo. Still, it got a fourth manuscript out of me, which is awesome. It also made for the only time I’ve ever finished two manuscripts within a year.

I don’t know that last year was the last year that I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo, but with the progress I’m making on this edit, I really don’t think it’s worth it this time around.

Godspeed to all my fellow Wrimos. I may have something for you shortly which helped me last year, so stay tuned! And also check out my suggested reading for some help in succeeding this November.


About David Shank

David T. Shank is a writer, runner, and musician, in that order. His blog is hopefully an oasis among the vast ocean of negativity that is the Internet. He lives in Cleveland studying how to write good.

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