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What is NaNoWriMo Teaching You About Yourself?

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Okay, fellow NaNo’ers, what terrible things are you learning about yourself this month? (For those who just friended me and don’t know any better, NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month, where tens of thousands of crazy people all attempt to write an entire 50,000 word novel during the month of November).

This is just about what I’m learning:

This is my first year doing it and I have to say, I’m finding out some things about myself.

1) I have been tending to skip scenes when I get stuck, replacing them with bracketed text like [REMEMBER TO GO BACK AND ESTABLISH THAT GABE WAS A GOOD BROTHER AT ONE POINT EVEN IF HE IS A TOTAL DOUCHE NOW] This is problematic. I have learned I cannot skip that many scenes without ending up with fanfiction of my own characters. Who are you people and why are you in my book?

2) Maggie, do you remember how you always said that you hated the first 10K words of whatever novel you’re working on? Well, that’s still true. Actually, it was the first 9,644 this time. And you know, because sure as he%& you were counting. At 9,644, the following IM was sent to my crit partner Tessa:

me: oh yay yay YAY finally I found my damn novel, Tess!!!!!
Yes, I was so excited that I swore. I thought I would hate this novel forever.

3) It was hard for me to write every day before NaNo. And it still is. I really need that downtime inbetween to lay on my living room floor playing my brainstorming music so loud that my butt cheeks wiggle. I’m still adapting, by trying to intersperse my writing with butt cheek time all on the same day.

4) I am less in love with the principle of it than I thought I would be. I can see how it really would make non-finishers finally finish. But I have a hard time believing that this wreck of a draft, this un-nuanced piece of crappola, this totally unsubtle plot-explosion, will in the end take less time than a traditional four month draft of mine. Because revisions, oi! This baby is going to need so much work in the aftermath that the fact that the first draft was quick will be a pyrrhic victory. Oh don’t you tell me with the squiggly red lines that PYRRHIC is spelt wrong, you crazy spell checker you. I’m classically educated and you’re just a wikipedia jockey.

5) Terribly, I still felt that rush of satisfaction at reaching the first 10K words. And I’m at 12,024 words. I am, despite knowing better, still a word count ho.

6) Also, I was very inspired by getting copies of my Italian SHIVER in the mail — this happened right before my brainstorm that made me like my book. See the pretty? See the real slashes in the cover? (note to Italian fans: I find it amusing and terrifying that you have been emailing actors who look like Sam. They have been emailing me and telling me about it.)

So, how about you guys? What have you learned?

Maggie Stiefvater
Hi, I'm Maggie Stiefvater

Professional novelist by day and artist by night. I live an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with my charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, and neurotic dogs. I’m the author of the Books of Faerie (LAMENT and BALLAD); the bestselling SHIVER trilogy (SHIVER, LINGER, FOREVER), and THE SCORPIO RACES.

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