NaNoWriMo finishes for me not with a roar but with a whimper. This is probably because I finished 6 days early, so there was no mad dash, no sprint to the finish line. This was my first attempt at NaNo and I'm glad I made the effort, glad I embraced the challenge. One of my tutors at TAFE instilled in me the following advice - "Don't get it right, get it written" or, in other words, give yourself permission to write badly, first drafts are meant to be rubbish. Nowhere and at no time is this more true than at the end of a hectic 'write or die' 30 days of NaNo maddness.
So, am I happy with what I've written? Yes & No. There are parts of it that I will salvage, either to be used in the rewriting of my NaNo novel, which at just under 51,000 words is by no means finished (whether or not I choose to continue on with it is yet to be decided), or to be used for other shorter pieces of writing - the dialogue alone is useful.
So, was NaNo worth it? Of course! Even if I were to never use a single word I wrote during November, even if I was to delete the file from my hard disk (I won't - I don't delete anything, you never know when that phrase or sentence of dialogue might come in useful) it would still have been worth the effort. I had gotten out of the habit of writing - this is something that has happened to me at different times over the years - so what NaNoWriMo did for me was get me writing again. It gave me the right kind of motivation to turn up at my desk every day, to keep my bum in the chair and my fingers on the keys.
What do I take away from this experience? 1. Give me a deadline and I'll hit it every time! I had already had an inkling this was true for me. I work well under pressure. If I can physically see on a calendar how long I have to complete and submit a piece of writing I find it much easier to get on with the work. I will be setting firm but realistic deadlines for myself for my future writing projects. 2. Write fast. Okay, so maybe 50,000 words in 30 days is a little extreme, but I see no reason why I can't aim to have a 100,000 - 120,000 word first draft finished in say 4 mths. This seems less of a struggle than chipping away at it for a year or maybe two, at which time one of two things would probably happen - either I'd be sick to death of the idea & still be without a completed draft, or I'd have invested so much time in the project that, if in another two years or more when I think it's finally ready to send to a publisher I receive a rejection, I'll be so depressed that I'll never write another word.
Will I participate in NaNoWriMo again? Probably... How about you?