NaNoWrimo Year 5: What I Learned Writing A Novel in November

As you know (or maybe you don’t), I attempted to write a novel in November.  As for the past 5 years, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  And, I learned a lot this year.

1. I am a planner.
I need to have a plan, even if that plan is very scant and doesn’t have much to do with anything.  I need an idea of what I’m doing and where I’m going – even if I go off track.  I tried to pants this year and I was disinterested in my story and struggled to complete the 50,000 words.

2. Never give up
I fell very far behind this year – further behind than I have ever been.  I really think that it was because I was writing something that I wasn’t interested in – a story that I hadn’t thought about at all or had any real connection to.  As I wrote, the connection grew and it became easier to write, but I still could have easily given up and been overwhelmed by what I needed to get done.

3. Make a schedule and stick to it
When you’re trying to write 50,000 words in one month, you have to have a schedule and stick to it.  If you were to write the minimum every day, you would need to write 1,667 words.  That isn’t a lot – especially for someone like me that can be very verbose – and is totally doable.  But when you don’t stick to that schedule or try to get ahead when possible, you fall behind and it’s hard.  Plus, if you have a full life, things can get complicated.

4. You will make time if it is important
Like all other things in life, if it is important to you, you will make time.  During November, I visited my sister in Pittsburgh (a six hour drive one way), I attended all hockey games that were home (I have season tickets), I attended multiple high school football games (that were sometimes a ways away), and I began working out regularly again (something I have needed to do for a long time).  I also managed to write just over 50,000 words.  The things that I did were important to me and I made time for all of them.  You will too, if they are important to you.

Overall, I am pleased with myself.  The story itself is not great, but I managed to “win” and write 50,000 words.  There are, of course, things I would do differently.  The main thing I would do differently would be to write a story that I wanted to, even though I didn’t feel ready for it.  And I might write one of those still.  We will see.  This story will likely go where stories do to die when they aren’t great.  Then again, I might be able to salvage the story/start a new story from the story that I wrote – that really ended up being back story.

50,000 words in one month.  In addition to words I used when I journaled and occasional (very occasional) updates on this blog).  That is an accomplishment.  Even if those words can be used for nothing else.


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