NaNoWriMo: It Was Hard, But Did You Die?

November 30, 2016

In answer to the titled question no, I didn’t die. You’re probably thinking that that’s quite evident by me writing this blog that you’re now reading. This could have been written prior to finishing and then published posthumously. However, I can assure you that I am alive and well. I can proudly wear my t-shirt that says “I Survived NaNoWriMo 2016!” (Wait, if there’s a t-shirt like that please let me know where I can get one!)

How My Journey Ended

 Did I enjoy NaNoWriMo? Yes and no. I loved that I made the decision to take on the mammoth challenge. I’ve participated in writing sprints before but never for this length of time. Thirty days consecutive writing for someone who is used to writing when the creative muse decided to pay me a visit, or once per week, was quite an epic task I’d set for myself. I enjoyed getting my story out of my head and on paper. I’ve been thinking on and off about this story for almost a year now. As I’ve mentioned before, I had no plot, just the idea for the character and how the story would end. Weird right? What can I say I’m an organic writer (or according to NaNoWriMo terminology I’m a “pantser”; I like to let the story form how it wants to and then go back and shape it in the editing phase. It’s not for everybody, but it’s how I tick as a writer. What I didn’t enjoy was the stress I felt when I took ill at the beginning of the third week and couldn’t pull a coherent thought together much less to continue to flesh out my characters and scenes. Let’s just say it made recovery take a lot longer than I wanted. My journey ended with me meeting the word count goal I set for myself, but not the NaNoWriMo goal. I’m not a NaNoWriMo 2016 winner (Boooo!) but I am a winner nonetheless for attaining my goal (YAYYYY!).

What I Learned

  • My ideal writing time. Sounds strange that I only just learned this huh? I usually thought that my ideal writing time was early mornings before the kids woke up and the mayhem and chaos commenced in my house. But it wasn’t. I was my most productive in the nights after the children had gone to bed. This was useful to me as going forward, I can focus on different things during the day then sit down at my desk at my ideal writing time and expect that I will produce something worth reading.
  • I’m not a 100% organic writer. This was a bit of a surprise to me. But then again I’ve never before taken on a task like this one. My first novel that I wrote was done organically and without a deadline. Working with a deadline made me realize how much I could benefit from working out a structure beforehand.
  • Writing a novel in a month is possible for me. I may not have done it this time, but I do know it’s possible. Heck, I didn’t think that writing 30,000 words in a month was do-able but I did it! Actually, I did that in two and half weeks so I know 50,000 words in a month is attainable for me.

 What I Would Change

 I’m looking forward to NaNoWriMo 2017 but I’ve had the chance to reflect on this year’s challenge and on things that I would change for next year.

  • Develop a plot beforehand. Yes, I know what I said in the beginning about being an organic writer. However, I now know the benefits of having worked out plot and character sketches prior to the beginning of the challenge.
  • Access more tools. I bought a couple of fantastic books on story structure, writing a novel in a month, plot outlining and so on. However, I bought them after starting the challenge so I didn’t get a chance to read and utilize the information. Being a writer doesn’t mean you know it all and to ever accept the way you write as the end. At least, not for me it doesn’t. I’m constantly learning and working on my craft.
  • Pick a writing buddy. I sort of did this but next time I will reach an agreement with that writing buddy for us to hold each other accountable. It’s amazing what you can do when you have someone spurring you on. Even in those days when I was ill, who knows – if I’d had someone calling me up and encouraging me to get even 100 words on paper, maybe I would have done.

NaNoWriMo 2016 is Over, What Next?

 Now that it’s all over, I will take what I learned and move forward. I will dedicate time to working on the novel I started for the next few months to finish the first draft. I will see it through to editing stage and, hopefully, to publishing stage as well. I have the framework and I am thankful to NaNoWriMo for that. I am looking forward to the finished product and to planning for next year’s novel writing challenge.

How did you end this year’s NaNoWriMo? What things did you learn about yourself and your writing? Will you take on this challenge again in the future?

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