This post is from 2018, when I didn’t meet my goal but learned a ton about myself and what I can expect from my Muse. I thought it might be helpful for folks considering this event so thought I would share it as part of Preptober. You can find more information at the NaNoWriMo.org website at this link. In the meantime, here’s my post:
NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month. By the time you see this post, I will have committed to writing a novel in the month of November. While I didn’t fully commit on their site, or to finishing my draft completely, I did decide to challenge myself and make some changes in my writing habits. NaNoWriMo is a grueling process and is not for the faint of heart. Here is what I learned about myself during the process, and I have to say, a couple of them surprised me.
- I CAN write every day! – This is something that I never thought possible, and only took a slight adjustment in my daily schedule. As a matter of habit, I was more of a binge writer. I wait for a free day, or evening and then hammer out my thoughts for hours, sometimes avoiding human interaction late into the night or over entire weekends. This type of writing wasn’t working for me, because I have a family and friends and by the time I finished up with the rest of what life threw at me on a daily basis, I was too tired to fit any writing time in. I desperately wanted to write more regularly, so committed to Write-Ins on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons, and while that helps, it still wasn’t enough to flesh out the first draft of a new project and still maintain my other obligations. For NaNoWriMo, I set my alarm a full 1.5 hours early and, starting November 1st, wrote in the mornings before I went to work. At the end of my 31-day challenge, there were only 7 days that I missed, and while I didn’t write every day, it was enough for me to finish draft #1 of my novella. The benefits of a daily writing habit for me? It puts my head in the right frame of mind first thing in the morning which often equates into a positive day all around. It also keeps my head in my story more effectively, since there are no longer days (or weeks) with no writing at all.
- I AM a morning person! – This was what surprised me the most. Had you asked me if I was a morning person this past October, I would have said there was no way. However, part of my commitment to myself was to write every day and to write no less than 1,000 words a day average. In order to keep up with that pace, and still do all of the things I needed to get done in a day, I needed more time. The only way I was going to get it was by waking up earlier. The bonus is that my mind is fresh when I awake, so the creative part of me loves my AM sprints, and I save the other types of writing such as blog posts or social media interaction for the evenings when I am less perky. This has really changed my outlook and I am much more productive than I ever thought possible. Added bonus, I am sleeping way more soundly!
- I CAN draft a book in a month! – I am thrilled that I challenged myself to do this since I managed to pull it off and now have a fleshed out story idea that I can work with. It still needs a lot of help, but it is something I can have ready for when the time comes to look for an agent or try my hand at querying. I needed to know I could write more than one book a year, and now I know I can! I highly recommend you do this, you need to know how long it will take you to produce a reasonably pulled together project if your feet were put to the fire. I also think it is good practice to draft blurbs and synopses for those projects since you never know who you might run into that will ask for it! Those types of documents will also help get your head back into your story after taking time to work on something else. Invaluable!
- The Writing Community is AMAZING! – I already knew that, but it was so much more evident in November. I had no less than 30 writing friends working on novels, cheering each other on, hosting writing events or doing virtual writing sprints. I am so thankful that I have found this community of writers through various channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WordPress. Not to mention the amazing friends I’ve made through GDRWA and RWA! I have been blessed to have met such amazingly supportive and uber-talented folks! It would have been a more challenging journey without them!
Writing a 50,000 word novel in a month isn’t for everyone, and for the last few years, I fought against participating in NaNoWriMo because I felt the stress would be too high. I am happy to admit I was wrong, and that challenging myself to stick to a regular schedule, started me on a path of a wonderful new habit. I look forward to producing more books and continuing to keep my Muse happy in the future!
NaNoWriMo 2019…here I come!
2 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo – What I learned about myself when writing a novel in a month”
I never knew I could write every day as well, and it took a work challenge (not NaNo) to teach me that. Now I do it out of habit. Thanks for this post!
Thanks for taking the time to read it! I have tried various techniques over the last few years, and have learned a lot about myself along the way. Knowing what you can count on yourself for is half the battle!
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