I've done NaNo for nine years now and have that many finished novel first drafts. That being said it's been extremely hard to take these drafts and turn them into final drafts.
For a long time I thought that it was because I had no idea how to edit, or because I was simply inexperienced with editing and therefore couldn't do it quickly or for a piece this big. But after doing NaNo 2018 where I had a completely outline and character studies for my two main characters and sketches of the main rooms that the story took place in, well it flew. The whole writing process was smoother and overall more enjoyable. Furthermore the editing felt like a breeze and was actually enjoyable, because I could see how to take what I had and make it into what I wanted.
I didn't do a proper after action plan analysis of that though. I didn't think, "Oh I should make sure to have a fully fleshed out story before NaNo." I often fluctuate between pantser and plotter and that year just happened to be a plotting year, no worries.
But then 2019 rolled around with my mild outline, no character studies, and no location sketches. I wrote hard for the first week, getting at least 2k every day knowing to keep the momentum up. Then I hit the wall, hard. While that wall is often a part of week two blues it was also majorly influence by the fact that my outline said, "write 10k about a journey through a fantasy setting until she finds the magic eaters."
What was I supposed to do with that, past self!?
Eventually I talked it out with many writer friends and my SO, and I realized what I wanted to do with that section. But it's going to take a lot of work to thread that into the sections I already wrote.
That all being said, my new approach is my 2018 approach. I'm going to have a full outline for NaNo 2020 with an index card for each scene. I'll be writing it for Camp April this year, in less than a week! It's exciting to have a new creative project to work on and that this outline will help make my future writing and editing endeavors that much more fun!
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