NaNoWriMo 2013: The End

Its finally over! Thirty days of writing fury: of non-stop plot-weaving, of unrelenting creativity and of a brave foray into the unknown. Well, that’s what NaNo is supposed to be about. As it turned out, my experience wasn’t quite like that…

I started NaNo reasonably well, managing to rack up close to a thousand words every day, for a few days. Not bang on target, but a decent effort nonetheless. It was then, about four days into NaNo that things started to fall apart. I think it was probably a mixture of not enough plotting (you know, actually knowing what happens beyond the first third of the book), too much time spent making planning spreadsheets in Excel and not having a clear enough vision for my story.

Let’s talk about that last point. I am easily influenced by the stuff I read, the games I read and the movies I watch. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but mostly it’s not. It’s fine to be inspired by great stories and worlds, but I really have to learn not to grab those elements and throw them into my stories like some overfull fondue pot. I start out having a clear idea of what my story is and what it’s about, but then I begin to work in other elements which only serve to confuse the whole project. It’s like making a nice spaghetti bolognese and then adding curry powder. You may love curry powder, but in a bolognese it clashes and confuses the dish. It’s unnecessary, so it shouldn’t be there.

About halfway through NaNo I officially threw in the towel. My project wasn’t working in the slightest and I needed to go back to basics and really get to the root of what I was writing about. Some of my enduring influences in writing fantasy remain The Lord of the Rings, the characters of Conan and Elric, the Redwall series (Brian Jacques), Warhammer Fantasy, Warcraft and anything by Joe Abercrombie. Diverse and somewhat random, I know, but these are the works, worlds and characters that have had the greatest impact on me over the years and shaped my love of fantasy. The problem with my NaNoWriMo project was that it was too far from these influences.

That’s not to say I can’t write anything that isn’t somehow related or similar to any of the above. These are simply the things that give me my passion, not necessarily the things that I actually write about. But when I’m writing a fantasy set primarily at sea, with an “original” take on pirates, wizards and dragons, you know I’ve taken the new Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag a little too much to heart.

Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson and I’m back working on a novel that I had been writing for a long time – one which I can safely say is true to me and is not an imitation. Overall, NaNoWriMo was an interesting experience. It taught me an important lesson in staying true to your influences and forced me to actually sit down and have the discipline to write every day. If only for that, I think taking part in NaNo was worth it.

If you’ve made it this far, drop me a comment below and let me know how you got on during NaNo, if you took part this year. What inspires you to write fantasy? What are your biggest influences? I want to know!

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5 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo 2013: The End

  1. cyelkoth5637 01-Dec-2013 / 23:14

    I did not participate in nano this year, but I think it’s great that you learned so much about yourself as a writer from it! As for me, I write both scifi and fantasy. I love it because it lets me write whatever I want–there are no boundaries. Very freeing. 🙂 My influences are random and not always within the genre I’m writing. Good luck on your novel!

    • James 11-Dec-2013 / 12:49

      Thanks for reading!

  2. jamespearson2013 03-Dec-2013 / 23:10

    I participated in NaNo this year and managed to secure my victory with 52,000 words. Somehow I managed to do it and keep to my plan. Luckily for me, I had the idea in my head for the last two years and refined the plot a lot in there. I saw NaNo and thought,’why not?’ it worked for me and really pushed me forward. On 57,000 words and counting and aiming for my novel to be finished and published, whether by a proper publishing house or just self published. I don’t mind, it’s a hell of an accomplishment.

    Feel free to follow my blog! I write fantasy too kingmakersaga.wordpress.com

    • James 11-Dec-2013 / 12:48

      Congratulations on your successful NaNo effort! Best of luck with seeking a publisher 🙂

  3. leeduigon 04-Dec-2013 / 20:00

    I have to write every day anyhow, and it usually comes out to at least 1,000 words–more when I’m also engaged in writing a novel.
    I have learned NOT to read certain writers while I’m writing one of my own books: E.R. Eddison and Thomas Malory, for instance. I love their work, but their prose is infectious. I don’t want to sound like some idiot unsuccessfully trying to imitate a great prose artist. And I can’t help it–something of their style is bound to creep into my writing.
    One of the hardest things you have to learn as a writer is how to be yourself–and you have to keep on learning it.

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