Thursday, December 11, 2014

Guest Post with Mark Victor Young

#NaNoWriMo #Fail #FTW by Mark Victor Young

I recently completed my first (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt at NaNoWriMo. The goal of the Nano program is to write a 50,000 word novel within the 30 days of November. Great concept! Other people have done it, why couldn’t I? Away I went on November 1st.

It started out okay, but I quickly fell behind the pace, and at a certain point my word count just hit a wall. Here are my stats for each day, so you can picture what this looks like:

The word count goal with Nano is 1667 words per day in order to hit 50K within a month. I only hit this "daily" word count once in the first ten days—when I was still writing. Maybe this should’ve been disheartening, but I was exceeding my usual output and was quite happy with what I was creating, so I soldiered on.

At around the end of the tenth day, I realized that while I was writing as fast as I could, I didn't know where I was going. Also, the pressure to get words down ASAP meant that there was no time for me to think things through. It reminded me of Monty Python’s “100-meter dash for people with no sense of direction.” It became clear that the problem was not my speed, but that I didn't have enough outline to sustain me. I was “pantsing” because I hadn’t taken the time for plotting, and I’m a very slow pantser.

It’s not that I don’t have writing experience; I have written three previous novels. Each took me about a year for the first draft, writing one hour a day. One was carefully plotted out and the other two were written by the seat of the pants method, making them up as I went along. This is okay when you have a year and can take countless non-writing leisure hours mulling over the story, characters and direction for the plot. Nano writing doesn’t allow for that.

This was valuable information. If I’m going to meet my goal of increasing my writing output, I’m starting to see that I will need to do more planning to allow for greater “flow” when I do finally sit down to it each day. Failing at Nano has taught me something important about myself and my writing style.

Because I had signed up on the Nano website and created a profile and tracked my progress (when I made some!), the kind people there sent me a “nice try” e-mail at the end of it all so I wouldn't feel so bad. The last paragraph is something I really connected with:
“You might not have reached the end this November, but here’s the best news of all, saved for last: You created a beginning.”
Call it a Nanowrimo fail for the win! I now have a beginning: an 8000 word head start on a story that I love and really look forward to telling. Now for the grunt work and heavy lifting. Time to turn thissnowflake into a blizzard. Wish me luck.

About the author:

Happily married since 1992 and a father since 2003, Mark has been a writer for as long as he can remember. He was born in Toronto and grew up in London, Ontario. He was the first winner of the Lillian Kroll Prize for Creative Writing at Western University, where he also completed a degree in English Literature. He has published poetry, short fiction, feature articles, comic strips and book reviews in various media. Visit for more details on this and other works by the author.

He lives with his wife and daughter in London.

Find out more about Mark on his websiteGoodreads page, Amazon Author Page, About Me, or follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, or Tumblr.

And before you go, be sure to enter our giveaway!

5 epub copies of Once Were Friends by Mark Victor Young are up for grabs!
Entries are open internationally, where applicable by law.
Entries close at 11:59pm EST Dec 17/14
Winners will be notified Dec 18/14
Winners will have 72hrs to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.

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