I am a two-time NaNoWriMo winner. It took me years to get up the courage (and a lost job) to finally get around to it in 2010. Right before NaNoWriMo, I had nearly completed my first novel, Emerald City Dreamer. For NaNoWriMo, I paused that project, and started a whole new project, an alternative history vampire fantasy, with my novel The Sun Never Rises.
As much as I loved the world I built, and my character, and the ending, I have not read The Sun Never Rises. Not once in two years. I haven't had time.
My third novel, Emerald City Hunter, I wrote during last year's NaNoWriMo.
For both projects, I came in at higher than 50,000 words. Right around 65,000 each. I proved I have no problem cranking out high word counts. Awesome.
Unfortunately, those words suck. Not all of them, but enough of them to make editing a real problem. I realize this is the point of NaNoWriMo, to write words that suck, just so long as you write them. And yes, those were my first novels, so they were probably going to suck anyway. I had a lot to learn about how to make 50,000+ words not suck. Some of those I learned during the writing process itself, and some during the grueling editing process.
Now that I've learned those lessons, I'm going for the long view.
I understand my pace better now. It is similar to my process for short stories. Plan, outline, write a few chapters, go back, revisit the outline, revise some future scenes in the outline, edit the past scenes a little bit, write the future scenes, revisit the outline, edit some old scenes, and so on.
When I do it that way, I end up with is a draft that is more satisfying and very solid. It is nearly ready, with some slight polish, to be shown to my writer's group, Cloud City Wordslingers. It is less frustrating and time-consuming when it comes to editing.
Word counts are antithetical to this process. And it takes longer than 30 days.
November is coming, and I see everyone talking about NaNoWriMo. I'm sad. I want to be along with you guys, cheering each other on, sharing problems and woes, and hitting 2-4k words per day. I will feel a little left out, and a little nostalgic for those past NaNoWriMos that were probably a lot more miserable than I remember. It will be hard, knowing I could have another novel under my belt. But I know it will be a novel that will likely have to sit in a drawer for years before I get time to edit it.
I will, however, be doing "WriMo". I will be writing all month. I won't be watching word counts. I won't be aiming at 50,000 words on a single project. I am aiming to finish Emerald City Iron (novella, already half done) to draft that can be read by my fellow Wordslingers. And I will be aiming to begin plotting the next novella. I will share progress on Twitter and here.
Good luck to all WriMos, whether you're doing a novel, a couple novellas, or a pile of short stories. I thank the NaNoWriMo people for holding that carrot out to me for years prior to 2010, to make me keep thinking, "I ought to get back to writing someday", and to letting me win two years in a row.