See what I did there?

Well, NaNoWriMo has come and gone, and I now find myself in possession of a hastily-written fifty-one thousand word manuscript. Is it ready for primetime? No. Does it need some editing? Yes. Did I spend the last night lying awake into the wee hours of the morning thinking of scenes that need to be added to better flesh out the story? Yes, absolutely. I’m going to shelve the project for now and get back to working on the Pythagoreans, but when I return to my NaNoWriMo project with fresh eyes some time in January, I’ll have a solid launch point for a pretty decent thriller.

So what was the point of all that hard work? Honestly, I’m still trying to come to grips with it myself, but here are a few of my early thoughts, which are undoubtedly shared by many other NaNoWriMo contestants.

  1. It feels great. Ever since I was in the fourth grade, I’ve dreamt of becoming a writer. It’s true, in High School, I became discouraged after a string of unpleasant English teachers from freshman to junior year, and then in college, my apathy toward writing grew even fiercer. I still enjoyed reading during that time, however, and wondered how my favorite authors managed to sit down and paint such beautiful and vivid mental imagery with nothing but words. During my first two years in the Army, I would occasionally get amazing ideas, (or so I thought) for stories and try to jump into the first chapter head first. I would usually finish the exercise fifteen hundred words in, feeling very discouraged and frustrated. Now though? I did it. Instead of stopping, I just kept writing and writing and writing, and after almost two decades of wishing, and starting, and failing through a lack of self-discipline, I can finally say that I wrote a book.
  2. I realize now how much work is necessary before a book can be published. While I did write a book, I never said that it was a good book. I need to add several scenes and clean up some plot holes. In a month or so, I’ll go back and start editing. I’m not sure if this story will ever see the light of day, but either way, I learned a lot about plotting, story structure, and scene creation, so it was entirely worth it.
  3. There is enough time in the day to finish everything I want to finish if I take ownership of my schedule and balance my priorities. It wasn’t until I started trying to write 1700 words a day that I realized how much time I wasted during the day. It’s not like I spend huge blocks of time in front of the TV each night, but there are little half-hour blocks throughout the day that I wasn’t using very well. Sure, I couldn’t knock out all of my writing in one sitting, but writing 100 words in five different chapters several times a day was pretty easy. Now that my daily schedule is streamlined a little bit more, I’m looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish this December, both as a writer and a person.
  4. My wife is awesome. My wife Alex got behind what I was doing and helped me out immensely. If I didn’t get all of my writing done after PT or during lunch, she gave me the writing time I needed when I got home and limited the Honey-dos and whatnot until I finished up. For an extrovert like her, having to sit quietly while her husband was next to her, glued to a laptop, was not an easy thing. She was also a great sounding board for plot ideas, pointing out inconsistencies and plot holes numerous times.

It’s good to say I finally finished a book. Now, back to the Pythagoreans.

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