I have attempted to participate in NaNoWriMo since 2012. I had heard of it before that, but was too scared to try. In 2012, I got to 30,000 words. However, I had a huge section of the story that I hated. In 2013, I got about 32 words. So yeah, I basically forgot about it, but I was pregnant and stuff like that happens when one is pregnant. So this year I wanted to participate, but October was closing and I had nary an idea. I had all the characters, like 9, I had created in an attempt at the 31 days of blogging. Surely in 9 characters there would be an idea somewhere. But no. There wasn't one idea.
Then we went to lunch at Wendy's as a family on October 31. As I sat there waiting on our food, I looked around at the people eating there. I wondered what their stories were. I saw some by themselves reading. I heard frustrated conversations. I heard laughter. There were people of all ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic statuses there. Then I got to thinking that this would be a great story. All of these people gathered in this place and then going out to finish living their stories. That was the entirety of my idea.
So the next day was a Saturday. NaNoWriMo month could not have started any better for me. Saturday morning is the one day I have a few hours to myself and no where to be. So I started writing about this diner on a highway somewhere in America. I had took some of the characters I had created and added a few new ones via a Random Name Generator. I picked a table and started writing. I didn't have a story planned for each person. I didn't even have an ending planned. I just wrote about that table until the story came to an ending point. Then I went back to another table and wrote about it until there was an end. Some characters eked out a few meager words just because I wasn't going to edit anything out. Some characters got just a few words because I hadn't really connected with them yet, but I had to get something on paper. Other characters got several pages because I started to fall in love with them. One character even got 40 pages. It is safe to say that she is my favorite. Then on November 29 I crossed the finish line! I wrote just over 50,000 words.
So after a month of writing and planning (Yes I did them in that order most of the time.), I learned a few things. NaNoWriMo is about writing. I have to have words before I can edit them. And that is where most of my problem lies. I start editing in my head before I have the words written. So I need to stop listening my inner editor and just write. The words have to be there before the editing.
I also learned that I am a pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants. I like not knowing where the story is going. The more I plan the less I want to actually write. And if I don't know where the story is going and there is no plan, then my inner editor can't tell me not to write it.
Editing is important, but not as important as the writing. Now that I am done with the novel, I know there are several places that need to be trimmed away and there are places that need to be filled out. There are characters I need to make less harsh and monologues that need to become dialogues. There are large sections of telling that need to be more showing. And I'm excited about doing that. I'm excited to go back and fix these things and make a better story. Now that the words are on paper, I don't have to stress about them. They are there, now I can just focus on making them better.
NaNoWriMo success = writing breakthrough.