• Ren

From the Archive: NaNoWriMo 2018

In 2013, I started writing a fun little multi-POV time travel story. I'd been creatively stuck for a while, struggling to find a good direction with another WIP, so I decided to take a break from that and do something totally different. I tried to set zero expectations on what my new project should be.

I completed NaNoWriMo that year with what amounted to a pile of disconnected scenes, written out of order, no outline in sight. It had only the vaguest notion of a coherent plot. But that ms would become the story I couldn't stop coming back to.

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It took four years of putting it away for a while, then picking it up again, rinse and repeat, before I finished a version I was mostly happy with. When I was done, it was a monster of a draft at almost 200,000 words, and I knew I seriously needed to cut it. So I went back to the beginning. I spent a year revising again, shortening and sharpening it, before I finally started querying.

This book -- this weird and wonderful story that I started writing almost five years ago -- became the manuscript that got me a literary agent in October 2018. It's still the book of my heart, and I can't wait to share it with more people.

So... that story that won't let you go? WRITE IT. Keep writing it. And if you're starting NaNo this year with no outline, no plan, nothing except for a shiny little plot thread and a couple of scene ideas, DO IT ANYWAY. Sometimes there's nothing better than throwing words onto the page with no goal in mind to get you moving in a new creative direction.

I'll be doing NaNoWriMo again this year, and despite my best intentions, my NaNo project really isn't any better planned than it was five years ago. But I already know there's something in it that will keep me coming back to it. And I believe absolutely in what it can become.


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