The Road To NaNoWriMo: A Post-Mortem

Note: This will be the last blog entry of 2018, and the last entry before the site goes through a major redesign for the new year. Hope you enjoy!

So here’s the bad news: I didn’t win NaNoWriMo this year. 

In theory, I could’ve found the energy to write those 9,000 words in three days–maybe an epilogue, maybe a short story. But the truth was that I was running on nothing more than coffee and momentum, and I was totally burned out by the time I wrote THE END. It also didn’t help that I wasn’t totally happy with my output; unlike Nine Years Away, this story went through a lot of detours in spite of my thorough planning, and all I was doing is writing for the sake of getting it done. 

But isn’t that the point of NaNo? you ask. You’re supposed to have a shitty first draft at the end of it all. 

Yes, but this is the shittiest first draft that I have ever written, and that’s not even counting the draft for my first novel. This is the first time that I really have to put a lot of distance between myself and my manuscript, no matter how badly I want to edit everything. Think the editing process for Nine Years Away was bloody? Wait until I get my hands on the plot holes in this one. (Seriously, did I really need that second sex scene?)

But I learned a lot of lessons along the way. I learned how to stop and reflect on what I was doing; I couldn’t just do plot, plot, plot without questioning character motivation and thematic repercussions. I learned that I can’t force two people to fall in love unless I’ve shown my readers a good reason why they should. I learned that I had a lot of biases still left over from my past lessons as a writer, and I needed to confront them if I was going to continue with writing romance. I learned that I should let my main characters have all the good things, and also to dispatch my antagonist in such a way that they, too, have to confront their own demons. And I learned so much–so freaking much–about motivation, and how they can take a plot from boring to sensational. 

Thus ends my writing life for the year, and I can’t wait to start taking notes again when I edit in January. Until then, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a glorious holiday season. 

Love, Stella

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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