It occurred to me that National Novel Writing Month ended five days ago and I’m only just reporting that I won! I did–I wrote 50,028 words in 28 days, so I actually won two days early. But after eking out approximately 1,667 words every single day (about three single-spaced pages) for 28 days, I needed a break and I didn’t feel like writing, even a “I AM VICTORIOUS!!!” blog post.
So–the experience. I loved participating in NaNoWriMo and hope to make it an annual personal goal. If nothing else, it would get me writing a rough draft once a month and then I could spend the rest of the year working on that draft. Since I didn’t know about NaNo until a couple days before it started, I didn’t have time to do much outlining or planning. I ended up grabbing 4 sheets of paper and writing Day 1 -7 on each, then writing just a few words to plan out what I would write about happening each day. Example: Week 2, Day 1–Meet new ally. That was all the planning I did, and it worked. With two little kids running around, I ended up doing the bulk of my writing at naptime and after they had gone to bed. It was hard, especially weeks 2 and 3. The first week, I was super-motivated and set my alarm for 5:30 in the morning, got up early, and hit word count before the rest of the house was even awake. Ya, that didn’t last long. The newness and bursts of creative energy wore off and week 2 & 3 felt a lot more like “work” and a lot less fun. I became somewhat obsessed with updating my word count on the NaNo website every couple hundred words, just so I could see my daily word count bar move. Little by little, though, I hit word count each day.
I attended two write-ins at a local library. A write-in is where a bunch of people just get together in the same room and type away at their novels for hours at a time. I really enjoyed experiencing the diversity of Wrimos…at the first write-in, there was me, a 16-yr old girl that was writing her 50K by hand, a 60+ yr old woman, a 20-something male gamer, a college student, and a working mom of a 15-yr old. I also liked word wars; you designate a length of time and just type as much as you can in that length of time. I was always the slowest. That’s another thing NaNo has taught me–despite being a fast typist, I am a slow writer. I think a lot about what I write. I choose my words carefully. I internally edit as I go along. It seriously slows down the drafting process, but I think it will help me when I go back for edits and revision. Most Wrimos said they would never let others read their rough drafts, that they’d be embarrassed by the quality. I actually like what I’ve written thus far. I think it lacks polish and description, but I am proud of the words that are there.
Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways for me was that very few people are as busy as they think they are, or as productive as they could be. I just wrote the bulk of a novel in a month! It’s made me very aware of how I spend my time. Today, instead of piddling away time while the girls were (briefly) contentedly playing together, I did dishes. Then I started laundry. There is time to be had in our days, if we will only take advantage of it. I keep telling myself that those thousands of words are just made up of sentences. So if I write a few sentences here and there throughout the day, it adds up. It’s like those people that do a set of sit-ups or push-ups during TV commercial breaks and by the end of the day, they’ve completed a full workout.
I learned about myself as a writer, I met interesting people at the write-ins and in the online forums, and I learned that I have more time than I thought I did during the day. I’d say that’s a successful month.