So after a marathon weekend of doing nothing but writing I finally did it. I reached 50,000 words on my novel. Then I crossed the NaNo finish line and earned the purple word count bar. This was my first year doing NaNo and I am not sure whether it is my last.
This is a summary of my ups and downs with NaNoWriMo.
Determination and Preparation
First off I must say I was able to get off to a relatively good start due to those two things. I was very prepared entering into NaNo or so I thought anyway (more on that in a bit). I had spent most of October prewriting my blog posts so that I would not have to spend my time writing anything besides my NaNo novel come November. This was a big advantage and in hind sight I am so glad that I did. I also spent the other part of the month outlining, researching and outlining some more. I did this not with just one NaNo novel idea but three. The determination was strong in the beginning. I woke up extra early so I could get a head start on writing to meet my daily word count goals. I went to bed with my laptop earlier each night so I could finish the daily word count goal and if possible bank a few words for the next day.
Preparation only takes you so far though. Right up to NaNo – day one I did not know which novel idea to go with. I ended up sat at the computer and just wrote a random sentence on Nov. 1st. This sentence related to one of my novel ideas so that was the novel I chose to go with.
The second problem I had was one in where my outline fell a little short. Somewhere 25k – 30k or so words in, I ran out of outline. I had outlined the entire novel. I had written to my outline and I had not veered away from it but I got to the end before I had even reached the end of my 50k goal. This was the point where I got discouraged. I did not know what to do. I felt as though I had failed at that point. I could not write anymore because the outline said there was nothing more to write.
So what did I do? I went back to my old pantser ways. I sat with the story swirling through my head for a day or two and then I decided where I had finished was not the end but the end of the first quarter of the book. Ideas then came flowing to me and the 50K started getting closer. Then at the weekend my fingers were on fire and the words were like a fast flowing river.
Being determined also has its downside. When you lock yourself away for more time than normal, your family begins to miss you or at least the things you normally do. Finding the balance there is tough. The kids had a few more takeaway meals and the laundry pile grew slightly larger than normal. No real damage was done but guilt crept in from time to time.
I think the biggest and most crucial thing to completing NaNo successfully might just come in the form of support from other writers going through it with you. I joined up with twitter hashtag nanoteamindy and with out that crew it would have been even harder to complete. Some direct mentions and thank yous are in order so here they are:
Thanks to Indigo Spider for the creation of the hashtag which allowed us to all collect in one space.
Thanks to Evelyn for all the sprints. They helped bump my counts up and without her I think this past weekend would have been even tougher.
Thanks to Andrew, Carl, Dave, and Mike for either encouraging me when I needed it, drawing a line in the sand that I wanted to reach too or doing a little of both.
Also to Shadlyn for the kind words of support that came on one of the days I needed them most.
Now as to my regular blog readers and all the blog writers that I regularly read, I miss you guys. This NaNo thing has been so time-consuming that the community that I had established here at the blogs was put on a back burner for a little while and I feel a little out of the loop. I can’t wait to start reading up on what everyone has been up to and of course dabble in a little flash fiction again.
50K words in under 30 days has been amazing as an experience. Although I have written a few novels now, I have never covered that many words in such a short period. NaNo taught me a new way to write and that was why it worked so well for me. I did not go back and reread sections (other than to remember where I was), the document itself is full of red squiggles where I have not even edited the spelling yet. This was a good lesson for me. Never have I allowed a first draft to be just a first draft before. I always was fixing and changing parts of it before the story was even completely written. I will do less of that in the future.
My NaNo novel is nowhere near complete. I am only about half way through the first draft. Then there is editing, rewriting and all the other hard stuff to come but this month of focused writing was good for me. I am glad I experienced it at least once and survived. I may even do it again next year.
Congrats to you on finishing NaNo! I’ve never done it, so I really appreciated reading your thoughts on what made it a successful experience.
Thank you! It was a good learning curve. I did not manage to write every single day during it but still in all it taught me a few new writing methods.
Congrats on finishing NaNo! It’s such a feeling of achievement, isn’t it? Go ahead and revel in your pure awesomeness for a few days. 🙂
Thank you Jo! It really is an achievement for me. I tend to take ages to write a novel (one took nearly 18 mos) so doing something like this has been a rewarding experience.
Congratulations, Billie Jo! I’ve never done Nano, but from what others say learning to write two or three thousand words everyday is one of its lessons, or gifts.
I agree with Jo…take sometime to revel. 🙂
Thanks Cynthia! I found writing everyday hard even during NaNo and discovered that I prefer long writing sessions where I can rack up 5 – 6k words at a time to writing a little each day but the notion that I can write a messy looking draft with loads of grammar and spelling errors and leave them there until it becomes a second draft was a real gift for me.
Congratulations on a successful journey, Robin
Thank you Robin! Congratulations to you as well.
Big Congrats, Billie Jo! Welcome to the purple club 🙂 (like the green jackets for golfers but ours are way cooler).
Thanks Gene! Since I have never been much of a golfer I like my purple bar better. Well done to you too!
Wow, Billie Jo! Way to go!
Thank you Selena!
Way to go! I love seeing people beat NaNo into submission their first time out!
(Also, I actually “eeked” with joy when I read my name! I’m so glad my pushy note was helpful!)
I really did appreciate the support. Thank you!
Congratulations! I feel like I’m having to re-adapt to the “real world.”
I know exactly what you mean! I think tonight I will catch up on everyone’s blogs instead of writing. I have not read anything for so long!
I am so, so happy for you that you completed this tough challenge. Thanks to you too, for your inspiration during the month.
Hooray! Congratulations! It’s no small feat and you did it! 🙂
Thanks Kaitee! It feels good to be done with the high pressure writing.