My NaNoWriMo Dilemma

It’s October! There’s a chill in the air (yes, even down here in the Kingdom of Mobile) and I’m starting to get anxious as this means the craziness that is NaNoWriMo is looming closer.

I owe a lot to NaNoWriMo. Up until 2009, I’d tried writing, but I was so paralyzed by my inner editor I could only go in tiny spurts and then abandon projects. I was so self-conscious at the keyboard my creativity had shriveled up into a little ball of whimpering goo. Until about a couple of weeks before November 1, 2009 when some fellow Jane Austen fan fiction writers asked me if I was doing NaNoWriMo, and I’m like “NaNooWhat?”

I went to the site and thought it would be impossible to do. I’d never even come close to that kind of word count in one day, much less strung together. I also had nothing to lose. No one was going to come hunt me down and put me out of my miserable existence if I didn’t finish.

So I did it. And 30 days later, I finished! I’d actually done it! It was a great sense of accomplishment, but more importantly, it taught me tons about writing that has stayed with me. Lessons like making your creativity come to the fore and making your inner editor be the one in a little ball of whimpering goo. Take that Inner Editor! Seriously, I think that’s the biggest benefit of doing NaNoWriMo for a new writer.

Of course I had to do it again, so during October I let some ideas simmer and this time I finished my goal 3 days early and so kept writing to the end of the 30 days and past until I finished the first draft. This is the project I’m still revising.

Hence my dilemma. I had planned to participate again, no question. I had planned to have my current draft done by October so that I’d have a whole month to think of and plan out my new novel. I’d purposely been squishing any curiosity about what it would be about, afraid to interfere with my current work. But, I haven’t finished this draft. This is why I have a dilemma, because I have that type of personality that gets enthusiastic about something to the point where I’ll ignore other things. Right now, that energy is on my current project. I know that if I even start teasing apart a kernel of an idea, it would be like Pandora’s Box and I could kiss my enthusiasm for my current one goodbye. I’m really close to finishing, but I’ve been saying that since July.

Okay, am putting it down here, that I have until Monday night to finish. That will still leave me more time than I’ve had the last two years. And maybe I’m more of a pantser than I thought I was. I hadn’t planned out anything before, so why this year? I guess I thought I’d experiment and see if it’d make my first draft a little more manageable on the first go.

Perhaps I also need some distance from this project so that after November is done I can come back to it objectively and in a business-like manner. I could then spend December on it while the new novel sits percolating, ready for me to pick it back up again in January. Sounds like a plan.

Anyone else in the same position with NaNoWriMo? Do you like to take October to prepare, or like I’ve done the last two, come up with the idea days before and just run with it?

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