Lessons Learned and Going Forward

Nanowrimo is almost over for another year, although it was over for me over a week ago when I finished my 50,000 words.  Despite hitting my goals it didn’t turn out quite the way I expected.  I had all these hopes of spending time with my fellow Nano’s in the form of chats, write-ins and various other mixer-type events.

As it turned out, I only made it to one event the entire month (although I do expect to attend the TGIO party) and two chats.  From that perspective, Nano this year was a bust.

Fortunately, the networking aspect is not the only measure of Nanowrimo for me.  I have to look closely at those things that I actually learned over the course of the month too.

The first learning of value for me is the realization that regardless of what’s going on with my life, I can write every day and meet deadlines.  I had decided early on that I would finish Nano by November 20th.  I also set a challenge for myself to be done sooner than that.  I completed my manuscript by November 18th, so mission accomplished.

I also got a glimpse at what I think professional writers go through.  They slog through the initial writing of a manuscript knowing that it will need polishing.  I wrote this book and could see where things were weak and I’ve already got ideas on how to make the book stronger.  That glimpse has made me feel more like a writer than ever before.

Third lesson learned is that the more prepared I am with my plotting and outlining, the better I like it.  This year I had a rough idea of where I wanted the story to go but I didn’t spend the same amount of time outlining the story as I did last year.  That led to some “throw-away” prose within the story.  I don’t like having anything that I already consider garbage.  I would much rather have 50,000 words of quality story to make the cuts difficult than have 12,000 words that I already know need to be discarded.  Next year I’ll have a solid outline ready.

I think the single biggest thing I’m taking out of Nano this year really has nothing to do with Nanowrimo at all.  Strange thing to say, I know, but hear me out; although I’ve been writing for most of my life, I have yet to be published in anything.  That in itself really doesn’t mean much; writing for the shear joy of it is as good a reason as any.

Where I feel I’m falling short is, I’ve made it a goal to become published, and sooner than later.  That’s great, but what have I done to accomplish it?  I’ve sent my first book out a handful of times.  Period.

Now that I have three manuscripts done, I need to rethink the whole goal.  I’ve got to put some parameters and time-frames around it.  If I don’t, then by this time next year, I’ll have four manuscripts and be no closer to having any of them published.

That is NOT what I want.  Not by a long shot.

So… here is the new goal… and please, I expect you all to hold me to it.

I will be editing my second book between now and January 1st of 2008.  As of January 1st, the manuscript will be polished and ready for publishers.  I will have a list of no fewer than six publishers who I will send the book out to.  I will focus on getting the book out as many times as it takes to get it published.

As of January 1st, while my second book is making the rounds, I will begin the major rewrite on my first book.  I will spend between 4 and 6 months rewriting that story at which time it will begin to make the rounds.  That puts it out and about by no later than July 1, 2008.

Now, let me pause for a moment to explain why I’m doing it in that order.  I’m actually getting my second story ready first because I know it is more polished and closer to being ready than the first.  I also know that the market is more favorable for my young readers book than for my adult fantasy.  Now back to my plan…

Once I have both my first and second books in circulation, I will begin the editing effort on this year’s Nano book.  Keep in mind that there is one event that can drastically change my whole plan.

That would be the acceptance of my second book by a publisher.  Obviously, when that happens, I’ll be doing what needs to be done to get it up to the publisher’s standards.  That will push back the rewrite of my first story.  It could even happen while I’m rewriting book one, so timing could be interesting.

I will also be outlining and plotting next year’s Nano book while I am doing all the rest.

The one piece to this plan is you don’t actually see me doing much new writing.  Since I don’t find editing to be particularly interesting at times, I will try to do a bit of short story writing in between.  That will be a new thing for me since I typically focus on the longer narratives.

All in all, I’ve got a pretty aggressive plan going forward.  I’m happy to say that I’ve already started editing my second story.  I have trimmed something like 2,000 words without any ill effect to the story and I’m only just beginning, so it looks promising.  I’ve also identified the first two publishers that I’m going to send it to.  Only four more to go.

I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going for me. 


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.