Originally posted on the NaShoStoMo site
The month of April flew by. When I first saw the Twitter posts and followed them for more information, I thought the same thing many others probably did: “Two hundred words a day? That’s easy.” And some days it was. But other days the words wouldn’t flow as freely, though the minutes on the clock certainly did. But I stuck with it. And now, thirty days later, I have a pile of stories behind me, some which might even be worth revising into longer, more polished works.
Was all the hard work worth it? Definitely! NaShoStoMo forced me to do something I haven’t done in a long time, sit down and write. Sure, I have amassed a stack of notebooks full of ideas, sprinkled with a sentence here and a paragraph there. However I haven’t actually created anything with a beginning, middle and end in years.
I learned many things about my writing and myself over the last month. First, it was easier to find time to write than I thought it would be, despite dogs and work and a thousand other distractions. Second, my dialog isn’t that bad. Going into NaShoStoMo, my fear of writing bad dialog was the biggest roadblock in my writing. I always felt a sense of dread when it was time to have characters speak to one another. Writing at the pace of a story a day gave me an excuse to experiment with dialog driven pieces. As a result, I no longer feel the sinking feeling I felt at the beginning of the month when faced with dialog. Third, actually finishing the number of stories in NaShoStoMo gave me a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
I also had the chance to experiment with different writing tools over the last month. I started NaShoStoMo writing on an iPad using an external keyboard. Though this was adequate for working at home, I quickly discovered that it involved too much of a production when working anywhere else. I decided to switch to my regular laptop instead. Though this gave me the luxury of not hauling around multiple pieces of equipment, it hampered my ability to work away from home in a completely different way. If I’m not writing at home, I’m often writing at Barnes & Noble or Starbucks, cliched as that may be. I quickly decided that a 17-inch laptop, coffee and notebook required far more space than the small round tables afforded. My next set of tools was the traditional pen and paper. This was perfect for my space requirements and didn’t require me to bring much else anywhere. This approach had two major problems not immediately apparent. The first problem was a minor one. Search, find/replace, cut/copy/paste and any of the other functions commonly relied upon when using a computer are absent. This resulted in a few late night sessions where I found myself staring at the paper while trying to figure out the keystrokes to bring up the Edit menu. The second issue was more substantial. Transcribing stories to share with others takes awhile, especially when you have amassed 13 days of stories (ten of which still need to be transcribed). So about 2/3 of the way through NaShoStoMo I finally broke down and bought the smallest laptop I could find, which seems to work perfectly for my writing habits.
Now that I have finished NaShoStoMo, the question is, “What’s next?” For now, I am going to file away my NaShoStoMo stories. I will go through them again someday. Some of them are prime candidates for revision and, hopefully, publication. Starting tomorrow morning, I am finally going to start on the novel I have been putting off for the better part of a decade. NaShoStoMo helped to remove most of the roadblocks I placed in my way over the years. And besides, 100,000 words doesn’t seem that daunting after writing about 30,000 words this month.
I would like to thank Dan Wells for planting the idea for NaShoStoMo. And I would like to thank Van for the time he devoted to setting up the nashostomo.org site and organizing the event. I would also like to congratulate everyone who participated in NaShoStoMo. I enjoyed reading many of yours stories and following your comments on Twitter over the last month.
I have truly enjoyed participating in the first NaShoStoMo and will definitely be back next year!