NaNoWriMo – summary, lessons and tips.

Long, long time ago, I wrote a post stating that I was going to throw my hat into the ring for the NaNoWriMo challenge. Then, I was pleased to announce, half – way there, that I was still going strong.

How am I doing now? Has my life changed? Am I rich?

If you want to find out the answers to these questions, just keep on reading.

I do have to warn you that this post might be filled with bragging bits, because…

NaNo-2018-Winner-Certificate

I HAVE DONE IT! I wrote 50k words in (less than) 30 days on a single, new project in the month of November. Even though my story is finished, it still needs a lot of work. However, this is my first fiction book which I have completed, and I am really pumped about it. My goal is to work on editing it in the beginning of next year, and maybe (!!!) publish it by the end of next year. We shall see.

Aside from sharing my joy with you, I wanted to write this post to also share some lessons I have learned while doing NaNo, as well as some tips, in case you decided to attempt it next year. This was my first ever try at NaNo, so I am no expert, but the below is my personal experience.

  1. We all are different writers (Yes, I know you rolled your eyes.), which means what works for me, might not work for you. During the final days of October, I read various blog posts on NaNo to know what I was getting myself into. What I saw often scared me. If it scares you, do not freak out. Some people over – do it.
  2. Know when to start. Depending on what kind of writer you are, you might decide to start prepping for November in September, or October. It is called Preptober for a reason – you prep. I was a total “pantser” this year, which suits my overall writing/ life – style. I just sit down and write. Planning makes it feel like work. So I was there on November 1st, with a single idea in my head, and a blank screen, while others had notebooks filled with timelines, plot ideas, character info, etc. Do you. Do not panic, but be ready, if you need to be.
  3. Do not be afraid to change techniques. So speaking of planning… I did none, because I did not feel the need, and because I found out about Preptober at the end of October. It was too late. Or so I told myself. Plus, I like just “winging” things, anyway.The first week (4 days from Friday the 1st to Sunday the 4th) was great. Every day I knew what I wanted to write, and I ended up writing more than the average goal for the day (1667 words). I was so proud of myself.

    Then came week two… and I realized if I wanted to reach 50k, I needed to expand on my general idea for the story, which was why I decided to spend one day planning what I was going to write the rest of the month. (I had a 1 day buffer, since I wrote more than the daily goal for the first few days.)

    However, Monday came and went, and I ended up writing just above the goal for the day. So I would plan on Tuesday. Tuesday was a copy of Monday. And so was Wednesday. I was so used to writing every day that not writing, and not hitting the daily goal felt like a total failure. A failure which I wanted to avoid.

    Thursday was the day that changed the coarse of the month. I did not want to write for the sake of writing, so I sat down to write down a few bullet points that flew into my head. As I wrote those down, some other things came to mind. It took less than 5 minutes. I had a plan. And I did not have to spend the whole month of October to do that.

  4. Create a separate word document (or have a notebook) for ideas. This proved invaluable to me. Whenever I would get an idea of any sort, I would write it down there. Whenever I had a lull in the story, I would open that document and see what I could use. Also, it helps to have a document in which you note details about your story so you do not forget them as you go along (ex.: names of every character).
  5. You can do it! When I started NaNo, I was not sure if it was something that I could do. Having a full – time job, and a life outside of my office, posed a huge obstacle. I thought I would be writing more on the weekends. Until the first weekend came, and I realized that those can be even busier than the workweek days. But you know, what? I kept writing whenever I could. This was eye-opening for me. I will be the first to complain about not having time to post regularly on my blog from time to time. However, this proved to me that I CAN. I just really need to want to.
  6. Anything will become a worthy distraction when you engage in NaNoWriMo. Beat it!The thing that made me laugh was that right after posting that initial NaNoWriMo post (which stated I would be MIA from blogging), I went and wrote my regular post. And then I went to read other people’s posts. And then I started responding to comments. And leaving comments of my own. Suddenly, blogging was my guilty pleasure. It was a new form of procrastination to me. However, when I was struggling with my NaNo project, I realized I had to pick – WP, or NaNo, and I picked the latter. Focus. Stay strong. Keep your eye on the prize.
  7. Prepare for anything. I have been living in this particular apartment for over 6 months, and had no complaints. Suddenly, a new neighbor moved in, and decided to force me to listen to their music. I cannot write listening to something I do not like. I cannot write when I get no sleep at night due to loud parties. This was a real challenge for me. I tried going to cafes, but the music + people chatter is not really my scene. I have found to be most productive at work during breaks. Had I known this situation would occur, I would have spent October on driving around and finding THE best spot for writing.
  8. Know yourself. Many people swear by write – ins. Those are random meet – ups (in public places, do not worry) for writers to write. Never having done that, I went to one. And then walked right back out. I guess I am a shy writer. People say that other people clicking away on their keyboards motivate them, but for me, it is distracting, and can even be intimidating if you are not sure of what you are going to write. I wrote with people around me at home, and work, but found that I feel the most free when I am by myself. I kept encouraging people to leave (which is contrary to what I usually do).
  9. Know when to stop, and when to keep going. As I previously stated, I wrote more than the daily goal for the first few days. My head was full of ideas, and so I just kept on writing, even after reaching 1667 words. It was wonderful to have accumulated enough words to slow down a little when I needed to plan, or when I was not able to meet the daily goal (details later). However, during my slower days, when I was not sure what I was going to write the next day, I tried not to over – write so that I still had things to write the next day.
  10. Track your progress. At the start of the month, I created a spreadsheet in which I tracked my progress. I logged the amount of words I wrote every day, the amount of words I had left to write in order to hit 50k by the end of the month. I also had the number of words I should have to date if I was to write 1667 daily. This kept me accountable and more motivated. Whenever I would write 1667, or more words a day, I would put that number in green. Whenever I wrote less than that, I put it in red. Whenever my total word count was greater than the predicted total count (with 1667 daily words), I put it in green, and when it dipped below, I put it in red.

Just to give you a general idea of how my month went, I decided to share some statistics.

  1. I started November with 0 words written down (not everyone does).
  2. I hit 50k words on November 28th.
  3. There were four days in the month of November that I wrote less than 1667 words. It made me very unhappy. (The word count was: 1,208; 67; 666; 1032.) It was not THAT bad. The 67 was an extremely negative day for me – no sleep due to neighbor, personal issues, etc. The 666 words were the next day, so I was recovering, but still missed the mark.
  4. There was 1 day in November when I dipped below the predicted total word count. It was on the day I wrote 666 words (so after 2 consecutive days of failure). I should have had 20,0004 by the end of that day, and I only had 19,843. I FREAKED OUT.
  5. The next day, I wrote 2,430 words (2nd place in most words written in November). The most I have written this month (on NaNoWriMo project) was 2,513.

The goal was for me to write 50k words in 30, naturally. This month proved that I can achieve a lot if I just put my mind to it. Some people might call it stubborness, I call it dedication. There were moments when I doubted my abilities, but I am glad that I just pushed through that. One of my biggest take – away’s from all this is the fact that I am capable of doing a lot of writing. And doing it consistently, too.

I strongly recommend that you give NaNoWriMo a try when it rolls around next year.

Did you participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo?

If no, then why not?

If yes, then how did it go?

Do you plan on doing it next year?

Stay golden,

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33 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo – summary, lessons and tips.

Add yours

    1. In the beginning of November, when I was discovering other NaNo-ers (?), I found out that a lot of them do it annually. Sometimes they finish it, sometimes they don’t. And I thought that I would like to do that, too. However, as of right now, I don’t think I will be doing it next year. (Maybe in 2 years.) It’s because I REALLY want to do something with what I have from this year. I don’t want it to be yet another unfinished thing, so I will focus on that before I begin anything else. And I’m sure it will take A WHILE.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Objectively speaking, I know there are parts that I will need to re-write, and some parts that are good to go. Like you said – having a fresh pair of eyes is crucial. Plus, December is/ will be a craze. Unless, I decide to do some edits on the plane… Hmm….

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Nice work! I did not get to 50,000 words this month, but even if I did, my novel would still not have been complete. I credit NaNo for getting me to push through and write the novel that’s been in my head for like two years! I’m happy I got as far as I did, and it really made me see what I could do as a writer. In the meantime, I have set some new goals for myself to write at a more reasonable pace for the next 3 months before I go through each chapter and revise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I am pleased with the story. It needs to be edited, and stuff, but I think the idea is solid.
      Honestly, I didn’t either. I was stunned that I managed to complete the challenge. Plenty people don’t finish. But then again, there are plenty of people who hit 80k words and more.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. These are all FANTASTIC tips! I especially like “Know yourself.” I continues to learn what works for me (which continues to change lol) The pantsed the first draft of the first book. Then I learned I need to do some plotting. then I learned my characters don’t care about my plot LOL. I prepped in October and planned to do Sept next year. CONGRATS ON WINNING! THAT’S AWESOME!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one that keeps changing lanes on this highway that we call writing. I’m having a lot of fun with exploring different routes, and it sounds like you do, too.
      Happy writing!

      Liked by 1 person

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