NaNoWriMo: Lessons Learned

It’s the last day of NaNoWriMo and it’s bitter-sweet. I’m sort of sad because I’ll miss all the craziness and excitement of the month, but I’m also sort of relieved too– because I discovered I’m not the best at getting down 1, 000 + words a day. That is quite a lot of pressure! Instead of focusing solely on the quantity (*cough* the word count) I’m going to talk about quality. Specifically, what NaNoWriMo teaches you and instills in you, whether you consider yourself a writer or not.

My second NaNoWriMo experience was challenging, exciting and crazy. It was a great way to spend my November and I’m glad I did it. Along the way though, I came up with some surprising and enlightening reflections. Here is what NaNoWriMo taught me:

Be Brave: Funny enough, I was writing a supernatural/horror story about college-age students encountering ghosts in a haunted mansion on Halloween. I was getting so creeped out that I would often stop writing. In the same way, you and I can apply this to our writing: we get scared of the ghoulish monsters that taunt us and tell us we can’t do it, when we know we can. We just have to brave it out and write, no matter how good or bad it is on paper.

Forget Inspiration: I didn’t realize how futile relying on inspiration was until I read my NaNoWriMo pep talk from author, Malinda Lo. I prefer to write whenever inspiration hits me, but find myself hating the times when I sit down to write and come up with lacklustre words, feeling as if my story sucks. But after taking in Malinda Lo’s words about inspiration, I learned that if you wait for inspiration to write, you’ll never write and inspiration is a rare occurrence.

Have Fun: NaNoWriMo’s staff, especially those tweeting on @NaNoWordSprints, taught me to not take myself so seriously. I love their silly prompts on @NaNoWordSprints and the way they could put together an engaging pep talk. When you’re feeling silly and wacky, it translates to your novel. I was even able to incorporate some humour (or what I hope was good humour) into my horror story. I have a way of taking my writing VERY seriously, but I realized it’s okay to have some fun with your writing too. At the end of the day, shouldn’t writing be fun and enjoyable too?

Trust Time: Like a fine cheese or wine, your writing only gets better with age. If you continue to write year after year, you learn more and more. I’m a better writer now than I was last year, and more in terms of discipline than anything. NaNoWriMo is the perfect way to hone your writing; not only is there the annual November writing month but Camp NaNoWriMo that takes place in April and July, as well as the “Now What?” months of January and February, which are full of tips for revising, editing and publishing. NaNoWriMo proves in a very short period of time that you can improve. If you can improve in a month, just imagine what one year could do!

These are just a few lessons I took away this year. What was your NaNoWriMo writing experience like? I’d love to hear your stories!

P.S. Check out ProlixMe’s great post about NaNoWriMo 🙂

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11 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: Lessons Learned

  1. LindaGHill says:

    I found this year’s NaNo much easier than any other, and I think it’s because of my blog. In trying to write a post every day I felt like the momentum carried over into my NaNo project and, unexpected as it was, the words just flowed out of me.

    If you’re interested in doing NaNo again next year I would encourage you to write here, keep working on your novel – just write!

      • LindaGHill says:

        No problem, always happy to help where I can. 🙂

        Oh, and one other thing that helped me this year was having writing buddies. It was the first time I’d had them, and it was great to be able to see each other’s progress. Look me up next year if you do it again, and we’ll connect over at NaNo 😀

      • creativewriter says:

        Writing buddies are great, aren’t they? I found this year people were much more willing to reach out and message you as a writing buddy to offer encouragement. This was something I had never encountered in my first year, so I thought it was nice.
        Sure, sounds great! If you’re wondering who I am, my username is fantasywriter100 on Nano. 🙂

  2. Melanie in IA says:

    I haven’t tried the NaNoWriMo challenge yet. Writing 50,000 words of coherence, good or bad, would be difficult, I’m sure. But I do write regularly and have easily written enough to fill books each of the last three years. For next year’s writing, I have more specific plans. One non-fiction and one fiction book are pushing to the fore. But if I don’t write they won’t get written.

    Thanks again for the Versatile Blogger nomination. We appreciate it.

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