Welcome to December! We made it! #party #nanowrimoisover #whyamIusinghashtags
Whether you had a wonderful NaNoWriMo experience or a terrible one – it’s over! Hopefully, you learned something, or grew as a writer or even got a finished draft as a result of all your hard work. No matter what you should be proud of yourself. Even if you wrote one word and then dried up, that’s still progress.
November was quite the roller-coaster of a month for me. Day one – literally November 1st – I came down with a cold – fever, cough and zero energy to do anything beside watch full house reruns on the couch. The following weekend was an early family thanksgiving full of babies, dogs, and lots of good food. After that fun weekend I came down with a second cold (I know how terrible is that, not gonna lie I definitely cried about it) and two days later my husband (who also caught the cold) and I flew down to Florida to visit Universal, Disney and the beach (it was an amazing vacation, despite us both being under the weather and getting airplane ear). Then after being home for a full three days we headed out again to visit family in South Dakota for thanksgiving.
Yeah…November was a busy busy busy month….did I mention it was busy?
Amidst all of that chaos I was plugging away at my 50,000 word goal. It could have been stressful, and frustrating or created super bad burnout and all sorts of other writer problems. But – it didn’t. I actually had a wonderful NaNoWriMo experience, I made my 50,000 words, finished my draft, feel more motivated to keep writing and I even like what I wrote…for the most part.
I can feel all of your death stares and evil glares coming at me through my keyboard, burning my fingers as you all think to yourselves I’m glad she got two colds in the span of two weeks and I hope she gets another for bragging about how awesome she is and how much she enjoyed NaNoWriMo. But, please understand that I’m not trying to brag – I’ve had less than great NaNoWriMo experiences in the past – but I think it’s important to celebrate our successes, and figure out what we did right so we can repeat them . Here’s what I did that helped me to be successful, despite having such a chaotic November.
- I pre-wrote – I know I’ve talked about how I am a panster in previous posts but if you read those thoroughly you’ll have picked up on the fact that even us pansters need to do a little preparation. I took the back half of October and did character sketches, plus two different types of outlines. I’ve never done that much preparation before starting a story and it really paid off. By outlining I feel like I got an entire draft out of the way before writing it. I streamlined my plot, my characters and my message for the story, all in just a few hours work. On November 1st I had an outline of each scene – now some parts of my outline were more detailed than others but there were all there – and it was amazing! If I felt stuck I could reference my outline, if I couldn’t remember something I wanted to include I could look back and see what I’d planned to say. And, if I couldn’t remember a detail about my character’s I could reference my sketches. I still don’t enjoy the pre-writing process, and believe me in October I was itching to just start my novel already, but after seeing how well that process worked for me I don’t think I will ever write a draft again without a complete outline
- I already had a writing routine – Was I writing 1,667 words every day? No. Was I writing ever day? Not quite. But, I was writing consistently and used to committing time and energy to my writing. It’s a lot harder to go from 0 to 50,000 than it is to go from 15,000 to 50,000.
- I was ready to create – Since December of 2015 I have been editing my Moon Cursed series, and if I haven’t mentioned it ever in one of my other posts (I’m sure I have) editing is not my favorite. I love to create, I love the blank page so after almost a year of edit edit edit, I was ready for the breath of fresh air that comes with a new story.
- I broke up my writing sessions – This might be a personal preference, but when I have to write 1,667 words every day I find it hard to write that many at one time (when I have no pressure to write that much I’ll write 3,000 easy peasy). It feels too big, too overwhelming. So, most days I broke up my writing session into two chunks. On work days I would strive to get at least 500 words on my lunch break, while on vacation I did a chunk around lunch time and another chunk around dinner. Over the holidays I literally would write 200 word chunks throughout the day scraping to get every spare moment I could to get those word counts. It helped me not to feel overwhelmed by my goal and it had the extra bonus of allowing my ideas to marinate during the day so by the time my evening session rolled around I was ready to go.
- I picked a great genre – My project for November was a fun, super hero spoof, chapter book, for ages 8-12. It’s silly, it’s lighthearted and it’s in first person perspective. A lot of the book wrote itself. I’ve never written in that genre, for that age group or from that perspective, but I wanted to try them all and I was lucky enough to discover that I love all three of those writing elements. Usually, I feel self conscious about my writing, or feel that my ideas are bigger than my skill level. With this project I was loving what I was writing – so much so that I read my first few chapters to a group of kids that live next door (and they loved it – asked if they could have the first copy of it when it’s published – I nearly cried from happiness). This genre is my element and it is something that just feels like me. I love writing the more serious things – love writing themes that are too mature for children – but I also love being silly and crazy and random and those things come more natural to me than the serious stuff. I didn’t think I wanted to write for this age group, but I might have actually discovered my calling as a writer.
- I had great support – My husband was a huge support, helping prep dinner, encouraging me to get writing when I didn’t feel like it and letting me prioritize myself and my goals above him for a few weeks. He is amazing, and I couldn’t resist giving him a shout out
Don’t get me wrong, November was still hard. There were days – especially towards the end -where I was tired, out of ideas and didn’t think I could do it. I had a lot of moments staring at my screen, forcing words that I knew were no good from my fingers. My story is far from perfect and I am so very very tired at the end of this journey. But I did it – I have a completed draft of my new book and I’m excited to dive back into editing this December.
More than accomplishing the 50,000 words I feel proud that I tackled something new. Even if I’d hated the genre I tried I think I still would have appreciated learning that about myself. Whether you “won” or not, I hope you are proud that you tried, that you wrote anything and that you took steps to pursue your goal of writing. Now go, grab a pillow and a warm beverage and curl up on the couch and enjoy some well earned rest (but not for too long)
Stay Amazing my Friends,