NaNoWriMo 2013: I Failed, But I Prioritized

I wish I could say I completed the 2013 NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words written easily and under my belt, but it was not to be…


Oh, I had good intentions. I started out with a bang. I knew the story I wanted to tell. I racked up a worthy word count within the first week – even exceeding the minimum daily count. But something else happened.

One, I really wanted to finish my edit of Finding Cadence. NO, I REALLY WANTED TO FINISH IT, ASAP. This is a story that must come out, somehow. I’m not getting any younger, and this novel has languished in various stages of disrepair since 2007.

After you’ve stripped and layered a manuscript for nine months (funny, that gestational metaphor), after you’ve taken classes specifically for this MS, after you’ve deleted and inserted, sweated, re-inserted what you deleted two weeks before, ran the thing through SmartEdit a couple of times, and let two editors and a couple of BETA readers have a go, there was only one thing in my sights: Finishing this sucker.

This is where I tell you that 2013 NaNo was a bust. Yes, I’m an abject failure this year. I had to suspend my new story – which is going to be great by the way, once I get going again – to polish my old (very old) story.

I had to make a gut-wrenching decision, one that didn’t come easily. I decided to prioritize.

I fretted over it for days. I like to write while the fire is hot, because there is nothing more motivating than passion. I had a burning desire to begin the new story, but I had a bigger urge to finish the old. That’s because by hook or crook, if I have to crawl over shards of broken glass, I’m going to get this story out of the edit stage of its life and into the final production stage of its life.

This is a huge move for me. After years of cobbling together a writing schedule, I realized I can’t flit from one work in progress to another. Maybe other writers can do it, but I can’t. My novels are so different from each other, i.e. they don’t fit into a single genre, that I have to concentrate on one at a time. It’s too hard to get into the serious-literary-thoughtful voice after you’ve been playing in the sassy-fun-romantic voice.

So I spent the last three weeks of November working on Cadence, jiggering the developments, the ending, the arc. I took that baby apart and put it together. I somehow eliminated 6K words. (I might have to add a few somewhere, but I’m not so concerned about it; I think this incarnation is as tight as it can be.) Then I shipped it off for more eyes to view.

I’m going to take a couple of days off, just vegging and clearing my head, before I start working on another first draft in sore need of editing. And when I have the time, I’ll add to the new story, but my main priority is to get what I’ve already finished (two manuscripts!) whipped into shape before I finish NaNo 2013.

Sometimes you have to prioritize. It hurts. But sometimes you must. Believe me. A finished result will lessen the hurt.


3 Responses

  1. When you have a full time day job, it’s very challenging to write more than one novel/genre.
    As for word count, well…I’m usually unimpressed with the number of words someone can vomit out in a prescribed time. Maybe one can spew a first draft quickly, but sentence crafting takes time. Quality NOT quantity is what sets writers apart.
    Maybe, I feel this way because as an English teacher,I find my students use a whole lot of words to say nothing. In fact, most of the Indie stuff I see is fraught with TOO MANY words and not enough preciseness. (Strings of prepositional phrases)
    You participated in Nanowritmo and learned from it…I would call that a success!!!

  2. Keep writing and keep being real. It works. Stay the course.

  3. Thank you both.

    I think NaNoWriMo is a good exercise for butt kicking and general cattle prodding, and I’ve actually finished novels using it. Of course, they’re rough and not worthy of query, and I know it (not sure what other writers think), and both required a LOT of editing once I was finished. I use the month as a motivational device.

    I was just thinking you don’t need to wait for November for NaNoWriMo, though. You can declare any month you want your Novel Writing Month, whichever one is convenient. Winter works best for me. Summer is out because of the Day Job – I don’t have a minute to think about dinner, much less writing.

    What I learned this month is to prioritize. That’s the hardest part of writing for me.

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