Nanowrimo 2014 Summary

I won Nanowrimo for the fifth time this year. For the fifth time, I was able to compose 50,000 words of fiction within 30 days.

Only as I’ve mentioned before, I opted to be a Nano rebel this year. I didn’t write a novel. I wrote short stories. I wanted to see how the experience differed from that of writing a novel.

Believe me, it differed.

Unlike any previous year, including my first, I wrote each day of the month. Even on Thanksgiving. That’s because I remained right at the word quota per day, or just above it a few times. It may have nothing to do with short stories and everything to do with where I am mentally this year, but I found myself able to write less per daily session this year than most other times. I think my highest daily word count was 2,100. My average was about 1,700 words a day, which as I said is right at the bare minimum to get 50,000 by the end of the month. If you write each day that is.

I so-called “pantsed” these short stories, though. No outlines. I wrote them cold for the most part. At first look, I would have thought this would have made it easier. It didn’t. It wasn’t a struggle, but at times it was a labor at least.

The lower daily word count might be due to the nature of short fiction. As one friend of mine put it when I told her of my plans, the rules and worlds of my fiction would change every few days. Even the genre would change. That probably contributed to some of the “word fatigue.” After all, with a novel one’s destination is further off. A writer can afford to explore, or take the long way in certain types of scenes in order to find out where everything is going. There is less time for that when writing short stories. The author has to park the car much sooner than in a novel. That lack of meandering may have applied more pressure to each session, and made them more tiring. Knowing that I “had to get somewhere” played a role in the process.

There was one common element to all of the stories. They all involved billiards in some way. I figured that having at least one aspect that had to be included in some way in each story would help me focus my creativity. For the most part, I found that it did. I had to stretch my thoughts and associations a few times in order to include the required element, but that’s a good thing. It does take more energy, though.

All told, I completed eleven stories during the 30 days. One I left unfinished. The shortest completed story was just under 2,000 words. The longest completed story was just over 5,000. The one I didn’t complete was pushing a mammoth 10,000 words. That story got tripped up in plot black holes I had to dig out of, and the pacing was approaching novella length. I suppose I could have written a novella, but the story just wasn’t speaking to me after a while. Plus my announced goal was short stories, and I wanted to stick with it. I debated for a while whether the incomplete story should count toward my word amount. I decided it would, since you don’t have to finish a novel in order to win Nanowrimo. No reason to assume I have to finish every short story during my rebel experiment.

Of the 11 completed stories, I think most are salvageable with edits and revisions. One or two of them may not be worth revising, I’ll have to think about it. As for the incomplete monster…I don’t know yet. As I said, it didn’t inspire me much. Yet with some editing maybe it would.

Literary, fantasy, (maybe) science fiction, espionage, humor. Most of the stories fell into one of those genres. I think one could be made into a steampunk piece. That would be a first for me.

My plan is to share all of these stories online for free once they’re polished. Probably on my WattPad account, just so I can have a place to keep them, and to send interested parties. I won’t be going the full self-publishing route with these.

So what did I learn from being a Nano rebel this year? From rebelling in general I learned that the important thing is to write. Well, I reconfirmed that, since I already knew it. Nanowrimo, or any hard but friendly deadline can help one write a lot of different things. Bending the rules and choosing to be a rebel for Nanowrimo is worth it, even if you have never won the conventional way.

About myself, I learned that often I probably need plenty of space and time to write short fiction on a regular basis. And that having a focus can help and hinder, depending on how you look at it.

I don’t know if I would ever go the short story route for Nanowrimo again, to be honest. I am, however, glad that I did it this year.

Any other Nano rebels out there reading this? Share your thoughts.



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