How NaNoWriMo Stole My Soul

Well, I did it.  I won NaNoWriMo 2015.  I wrote just over 51,000 words in the month of November.  It wasn’t easy.  It wasn’t super fun.  But it was doable, I proved that.  But it almost made me stop writing (in fact this is officially the longest thing I’ve written in 3 or 4 days).

I was able to finish the first draft of the first book in The Consultants Series, Dream Job (12K words for NaNo) and I started on the second book in the series.  But that’s where things started to come off the rails.

I had written around 20K words into the second book when I realized that all I was doing was putting words down on paper (virtually).  Because of the strict timeline and writing schedule required to meet the NaNo goal I hadn’t put as much thought into the structure of the story for the second book (in other words I didn’t do my Nano Homework!).  I had the basic outline, in fact that’s all I had done for both books in the series, just the outline of the story I wanted to tell.

I neglected to create the parts of the story that make it worth telling – and worth reading for that matter.  The different chapters were being written but they weren’t cohesive, they weren’t telling a story, they weren’t moving, they were flat.  I wasn’t taking the reader anywhere.

So I got a little stuck.  And then I got a little depressed.  Negative thoughts started to win.

It’s something I didn’t know I would face because I’ve never been a writer before.  I’ve written articles and term papers but never a book – let alone a fiction novel.

As I wrote I continued to read.  I read fiction books (Fat Vampire is worth the read), all I could about writing, self publishing and story structure.  I learned that there is an art to storytelling.  There is structure.  There is momentum, there has to be momentum.  It’s what people expect and it’s what will keep them coming back.

So, now I had a dilemma… Do I just keep writing and figure out the “story” later?  Do I stop and structure the story and then rewrite everything (or at least the parts that don’t move the story forward)?  Do I back-burner it and do something else and if I do this where am I going to get an idea for a story?

Well, I chose the third option, not because I did it intentionally but because it just happened.  When I started on this path my biggest concern was that I would only ever have one good idea for a book (or a series for that matter).  The more I read from people who have traveled this path before me, the more I learned that what they were saying was true:  The more you write the more your imagination opens up and you see ideas everywhere.

They’re right.

I was sitting in a movie theater the day after Thanksgiving just watching the previews and passing popcorn to my kids when BLAM! I get an idea for a new series.  I went home that afternoon, outlined the story (properly this time) and within the next two days I had knocked out almost 10K words in the first book!  I was excited about it.

Wow.  That’s what it feels like to be inspired.

After it was all over I had to blast through almost 12K words to meet my goal in the last couple days of the month.  I did it but it was tough.  I have had a hard time sitting down again since then.

Life was taken off pause after NaNoWriMo and now excuses are popping up.  But, I’m getting back on it today.  I’ll get back to my one thousand word average per day and reach my goals for 2016 – just you watch… and now I have 2 series I get to work on!

Here’s to your success!

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If you have a similar experience or a great story to tell please put a comment below and let’s chat.

Author: Ben

They call me Ben. I'm a Husband, Father, Cyclist, Business Owner, Author and Lover of Green Chile - Just to name a few.

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