There was a post on the NaNo forums asking, “what did you learn during November?” An abbreviated version of my response:
–I am not as emotionally strong as I once thought. (Not that I thought I was a rock, but I didn’t think I’d completely disintegrate in an emergency situation.)
–I am not as tenacious as I once thought.
–I may not be a pantser as I once thought.
Granted, the first one wasn’t a lesson from NaNoWriMo, and the second was only partially learned because of NaNo. But they’re still lessons, and good, if sobering once. I used to think I could and would write through anything, no matter what. I know that’s not true.
But the third lesson is the most important, I feel, to my writing. I think I need more of a plan for my writing, more of an outline when I start a novel. Not a plot point by plot point outline, but at least a loose idea of where I think the story should go. After 3 half-finished novels, and only one completed by pantsing it, I think this is a valid point. I tried outlining the rewrite of Ravaged, and while I still haven’t finished that novel, I have some proof that outlining does help me. I started following the outline, then put it away and went off on my merry way. When, months later, I pulled the outline out again, there were several points that made me slap my forehead and say, “Oh, yeah, I forgot I was going to write that!” This isn’t to say I won’t ever veer from an outline. But I think it would be a good thing to help me get from “Once upon a time” to “The End” and not lose things along the way.
I am also eager to get back to my urban fantasy series. I miss my characters. I can’t wait to finish editing Divided, and am ready to start back up with the online critique group. There were 4 of us before NaNo, though 1 was often away due to computer problems. I have been in contact with one member throughout November. Yesterday, I posted to the group asking who was still with us, and if everyone wants to start back up now, or wait till after the holidays. So far no one has responded (aside from the person I’ve been in contact with, of course.) While a critique group of 2 is better than none, I’m not sure if we will continue if it’s just me and one other person. We’ll have to discuss that, if the time comes.
We’ve been trying to recruit new members, but it’s hard. Not many people have shown interest. We started with ten members in January, dropped to three at the low point, and recruited one more. So, if you know anyone who writes urban fantasy type books and would be interested in a critique group, please send them my way. The more feedback the better, and this group has been invaluable in learning how to improve my writing. I don’t want to see it go away.
Finally, I signed up for Holly Lisle’s “How to Think Sideways” course. I’ve heard nothing but praise for her courses. I’ve been wanting to take this one, or “How to Revise Your Novel,” for well over a year. A writer friend of mine is taking HTRYN and loves it. Holly was giving away two more workshops as bonuses in honor of both her birthday and NaNoWriMo – $100 in freebies. So I decided now was a good time to sign up. I’ll get one lesson a week. I’m going to try very hard to keep up. It’s self paced, really, so if I don’t it won’t be a big problem, but I don’t want to get too far behind. And I want to take HTRYN when I’m finished with HTTS.
I almost feel like it’s a new year now, (well, Dec. 1) that NaNo is over. NaNo is the end of the writing year, the culmination of all the planning in the months leading up to it (or lack of planning in my case), so now I begin a new writing year. I do feel different. Maybe it’s because I haven’t focused on writing in far too long (over 6 months.) Maybe it’s because I’m engaged. Maybe it’s because of the fire. Maybe it’s because I feel as though my writing group – the Zen Writing Group – has disbanded. We haven’t met since June. And if that is the case, I’ve accepted it. But I don’t know where we stand, for certain. It’s one of those things no one talks about. Whatever the reason, I feel different, and I’m ready to start anew on my writing path.