Some thoughts on NaNoWriMo

Today is December 1st, which means two things. First, Christmas is in 24 days! Hooray! Secondly, it means that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has finished.

As indicated in my last post about NaNoWriMo, I was trying to write over 63,000 words. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words of a project in a month.

How did I do? I reached 27,679 words, which is not even close to the minimum word count.

Part of it was that I was really slacking in the last week. I had some sort of respiratory bug last week, mainly a sore throat. While having a sore throat doesn’t take away my ability to write, it does take away my motivation to do much else but play Pokemon Moon (Side note: I chose Rowlett).

However, I still had projects to do for the various outlets I write, volunteer, and produce for. Those are time sensitive projects, so I wanted to get those out of the way.

The other reason why I didn’t reach that desired word count was that I found myself just slugging along because I know it’s the end of the book and that I just want to finish it. I mean, it took me five years to get to this point so I would like to publish this before I turn 30 and think my story is awful.

Regardless, I was able to reflect on things I’ve noticed about the NaNoWriMo experience, so I thought I’d share them.

First, it motivated me to write every day, which was my goal anyway. During the last bit of it, I’d spend time away from my novel and on other writing projects, and Pokemon training, and by the end of the night I’d feel terrible because I realized I didn’t write very much of my novel.

However, I could go to bed peacefully knowing that I wrote at least one sentence because I figured it was better than nothing.

Second of all, I found myself focusing more of the quantity of what I’ve written, not the quality. This has been a problem that I’ve dealt with during the past year of writing this, but now that I’m closer than ever to finishing this novel, it’s starting to annoy me. I want to start hardcore editing, but I feel like I can’t really because I’m not finished the novel.

I’d like to add it’s over 120,000 words, and that’s just the first draft of the fourth time I’ve told myself I’d finish this project. I feel like that’s excessive, and I’m itching to slice the word count, but I tell myself that if Laura Jane Grace’s first draft of “Tranny” was about a million words, then I’m doing the right thing by writing as much as I can.

Third of all, I was able to make myself time to write, even if I was out and about all day long. Often, I would type up whatever was in my head as I was commuting from place to place by public transit. Writers should try this exercise.

In addition, it gave me a reason to post more often on my emilywritesalot Instagram account. I will say I generally use my personal _estew account more often, but I’m either posting nothing on Insta or I’m posting all the time and there is no in between.

It was a good way for me to talk about my daily word count, when I would post daily, but I often had to come up with creative ways to find a unique post. Often, it would be things that had nothing to do with writing, such as what tea I was drinking and the eevee figurine I have by my desk. Not necessarily a bad thing, but let me just say it can be tough to figure out what to post when you stay inside all day like the hermit you are.

Seriously. I am a boring person.

Also, I felt like it took over me for a bit. I literally felt like I couldn’t do anything else unless I spent an hour of my time doing NaNoWriMo. That’s fine if  I wrote novels for a living, but for now, I am taking on a bunch of odd jobs related to my field until I find something full-time, so I always have plenty of tasks to do. I feel like if I focus on one thing, it distracts me from anything else.

Overall, I would recommend  writers try NaNoWriMo if they have the time to do it. As someone who was in post-secondary for six years, I can understand if you feel too overwhelmed with school to feel like you have time to do anything else.

I would also encourage writers to not beat themselves up about it if they don’t meet their goals. During NaNoWriMo, I’d feel bad if I wrote anything less than 1,000 words in a day for it, even though I know that it’s progress if I wrote something down.

With this in mind, my best writing advice to come out of NaNoWriMo is to use any tools you can to write down ideas that pop in your head, so that you don’t forget, and to dedicate some time to writing every day. Not every day for a week, not every day for a month, every day. Heck, just writing for five minutes is OK if that’s all the time you have for it.

Lastly, I will say this, because I need to take this advice myself, I’ll say that it’s OK if you feel like you need a break from writing your novel. This project was on hiatus off and on for two years before I felt motivated enough to get back at it and start from scratch.

I know. I’m word vomiting, but my point is that if you want to write, write.



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