5 Things I Learned From NaNoWriMo

5 Things I Learned From NaNoWriMo | Written By Jennifer

It’s December and I did it. I took on the challenge of NaNoWriMo and and I won, I hit their goal of 50,000 words in thirty days. Actually, I surpassed that goal. As of November 30, I had written 63,045 words. That is a lot of words; a lot of words I didn’t know I had in me. Like I said in my post early in November, I knew I wouldn’t be able to put together a perfect product but it would be a good amount of effort and I did just that. There are also numerous things I learned from NaNoWriMo.

5 Things I Learned From NaNoWriMo | Written By Jennifer

It’s Possible

The idea of 50,000 words in thirty days seems daunting and to be honest it is. To start with a blank page on day one and end up with a hundred plus pages covered in words at the end is nothing short of an accomplishment. And I did it. I don’t think I’m some writing genius but even I was able to pull it off. I made the commitment to write and I held to it. This leads me to my next point.

Routine Is Key

I’ve read a lot of material on writing from published authors and almost all have said they have a routine. I couldn’t imagine how setting myself down to do the same thing everyday would help me write but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t help. In fact, I think it was the single greatest factor in my reaching my goals, both daily and total. Everyday at 1 p.m. after the kids were down for a nap, I’d sit down at my computer and type. One the days I couldn’t make that appointment time with myself, I felt rushed and out of sorts. My brain needed the habit of routine to get itself in gear.

Writing Begets Writing

I thought I would be burnt out on writing by the time November was over and that my blog would suffer. Neither of these worries ever came true. The opposite happened. Suddenly I had to write everyday not because I had a commitment but because I wanted to. My brain had all of these things it suddenly wanted to say about characters and about life that I wanted to share. Sure there were times that I was stuck on a plot point or a topic but it wasn’t writer’s block. Another surprise was when I did reach 50,000 words with several days left in the challenge, I didn’t stop. I couldn’t stop. I wasn’t finished telling my story (I’m still not finished) and I had to keep going.

Reading Is a Necessity

Between work and parenting, my time is limited as it is and NaNoWriMo only added to the time crunch so things like reading for leisure kind of went by the way side. I really missed reading, it’s one of my true pleasures in life. On the days that I did sneak in some reading I had a burst of inspiration to write. I picked up a book over the last few days of November and my fingers flew across the keyboard. I’m not sure what it is about reading that makes me want or able to write more but it does and I wish I hadn’t neglected it so much during November.

I Enjoyed It

I was nervous taking on the challenge. I really wanted to finish a huge writing project and I’m so close now and fully motivated to do it but I was more than a little wary that the road from start to finish would be bumpy and uncomfortable. At times it was but more often than not I was excited to sit down everyday and add to my story. I was happy to find a rhythm to my practice. It felt like a luxury to myself to get lost in another world for two hours everyday. I was elated to see the number at the bottom of my screen increase steadily every day. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this novel unfold in front of my eyes and even more so knowing that I was the one doing it.

Would I do it again? In a word: yes. When? I have no idea. I want to finish this second draft and truly set to work sharing it with readers. I have plans for it in the new year. I would definitely recommend any writer to take on this or a similar challenge if for nothing more than the experience of meeting a deadline, pushing yourself, and seeing what does and doesn’t work for you.

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? What did you take away from it?

 

6 Comment

  1. Julie says: Reply

    That is so great! I hit 10K words which is far from 50K but it got me going again on my story so it was worth it. I have plans to keep working on it too.

    1. Jennifer says: Reply

      Thank you! Everyone I’ve talked to this year seems to have taken it on for the motivation more than the word count. I’m glad that it gave you a jump start. Keep working on it.

  2. Congratulations! What an amazing accomplishment! I hit about 13k. But my goal wasn’t a word count (which I guess defeats the overall purpose of NaNoWriMo, but I’m all about making my own rules). I started last year and got so stressed out and obsessed with word counts that I gave up after a week and a half. I needed this for motivation and finding a routine, which, like you said, is so important. I’m thrilled with my progress, and even though I didn’t make it anywhere close to 50k, I’m calling my NaNoWriMo a success.

    1. Jennifer says: Reply

      Thank you! I think the bigger part of the challenge is making and sticking to the commitment rather than the overall number. I’m glad to hear it was a better year for you and you’re happy with your progress. Keep it up!

  3. Kacy says: Reply

    Congratulations, that is a huge accomplishment and it sounds like you had a really positive experience. I took a year off from NaNo this year, I tend to do it every other year. So I guess next year it’s back on! 🙂

  4. Kara says: Reply

    Congrats!

    “It felt like a luxury to myself to get lost in another world for two hours everyday. I was elated to see the number at the bottom of my screen increase steadily every day. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this novel unfold in front of my eyes and even more so knowing that I was the one doing it.”

    ^ This, I felt the same way exactly! I found it strange how even though I had ideas in my head, what popped out “on paper” or in this case the screen was different than what I anticipated. Sometimes better, sometimes not, sometimes just different or unexpected. I loved seeing where it would go next!

    I think my biggest tip for anyone doing anything like this is to just let it go. Let the words come and don’t judge them, save that for editing. Just write without judgement.

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