Reviews, Writers/writing

What I learned from NaNoWriMo

Keyboard V
Keyboard V (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not sure how I got swept up into the National Novel Writing Month in November, but it happened. If you are new to NaNoWriMo, their slogan is “Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon”.  The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  If you want to learn more about NaNoWriMo you can do that here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/faq/about-us/

NaNoWriMo is completely on the honor system. After all, if you lie about reaching your goal, who have you fooled? Only yourself, of course. So, did I reach 50,000 words? No. But I did write 41, 271 words, which completely surprised me. Here are the top 10 things I learned from participating in NaNoWriMo:

  1. The number of words you must write per day to reach 50,000 words in thirty days is 1,667, but you should set your sites on writing at least 2,000. You need a cushion to get you through the days when life, family, work or illness demands that you leave the computer and get other things done.
  2. Recognize the things that are writing aids, and which things are distractions; e.g., TV = distraction; radio = aid. Also, being a good typist is a great asset to have at your disposal. I‘m a terrible typist.(Dragon speech recognition software anyone?)
  3. Find a comfortable place to write. This was a challenge. Never knew it was so hard to type with a computer on your lap. Couldn’t get used to my legs going numb after an hour of sitting cross legged.
  4.  Prepare an outline for the novel (fair according to the NaNoWriMo rules.) It is too time consuming to formulate an outline and write a story at the same time.
  5. Do not try to learn how to use Scrivener (a word-processing program designed for writers) and write 1667 words a day at the same time.
  6. Checking your progress on a fun website that has your personal total word count, a bar graph, and lots of other stats is cool, mostly.
  7. It is possible to write 3,000 words in 6 hours; also possible to type in a semi-sleeping state.
  8. It is very hard to lock your internal editor in a room in your brain and not allow her out for a month. Couldn’t do it.
  9. Yes, you can sit down and write even when inspiration has left the building.
  10.  You might want to take the last two days of November off work so that you can write for 48 hours straight, if necessary.

Will I do NaNoWriMo again? Can’t say, especially now that I know how big the commitment is. I will be better prepared to participate if I do take the challenge next year, though.  How about you? Are you interested in joining NaNoWriMo 2013?

2 thoughts on “What I learned from NaNoWriMo

  1. Are you serious? You really did this? I am so, so, so amazed and impressed. Wow. How many pages is that? Do you feel you made true progress toward what you want your novel to be? I mean, does pushing yourself to produce a quantity of words bring you closer to getting the actual words you want? It must, to some extent. What’s your plan for December?

    1. Hi Tracey ~ yes, I did join the writing throng at NaNo, at the very last minute. They have a website which requires the ususal information to get involved, and once you are listed, you can take part in various forums. You get email from past participants who serve as cheerleaders, etc. There was lots of helpful information on how to achieve your goal. What helped me the most was seeing how far I had come, and how far I had to go. All the writing is done on your own computer, so each person has to enter his/her own numbers. To qualify as a winner, you have to submit your 50,000 word creation to the NaNo website. For those who are protecting their work, it can be sent it in an encrypted form (way over my head!)
      Yes, I found that having a deadline made me get to work. We will talk more when we meet in Dec.

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