Three things I learned from NaNoWriMo

Yes, November has come and gone. And yes, I managed to get a novel to 50,000 words which made me both excited and shameful. Excited because this constitutes my first full-length erotic novel. And shameful because, well – I cheated, entering a work that I had begun writing some time before November.

I don’t claim to be typical, but here are some experiences I claim anyone could take away from NaNoWriMo:

Discipline

Whether or not you actually make it to 50K, NaNoWriMo will teach you a thing or two about discipline.

If you update your word count daily (or whenever you write), NaNoWriMo calculates whether you’re ahead or behind schedule, and how many words you need to write per day. Of course, this is a simplistic way of planning – I know many writers are otherwise employed and write most of their words during the weekend – but it gives you an overview of how you’re doing.

For me, the standard advice “write every day” proved useful, and I bet it will for you as well: If you feel uninspired, but brace yourself and write on for ten minutes or so, you may suddenly get a “second wind” and end up on a spree. And if not, feel free to stop – you may only have written 100 words, but that’s better than nothing.

How much do you write?

For years, I’ve just been writing stories whenever I had the time, randomly checking the word count whenever stuck or finished. But I never had any idea how much I could or did write per day. Or whether what felt liek a “writing spree” was actually 200 or 2,000 words.

Through NaNoWriMo I learned that 1,000 words was a good writing day for me – days of 2,000 were few and far between. (And doing a little mental arithmetic, that actually made me feel better about entering a work started ahead of time – I wouldn’t have made it otherwise)

What does a novel take?

Again, this is an individual thing: Some authors write in such an elaborate style that they need only the barest outline of a plot to reach 50,000 words and beyond.

My style, however, is sparse narrative (broken up by long, explicit sex scenes), and I found that the nicely convoluted story line I’d planned ended up at a word count of about 45,000. I solved this by bringing one secondary character more into focus and creating a new relationship between two of the others (and yes – that resulted in two new sex scenes).

I believe there is a lesson learned here. When planning my next novel, I will have more of a feel for how much story line, character building  – and sex – I need to make it to proper novel length.

In summing up: I cheated – but I made it – and I recommend it.

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