Thursday, December 6, 2018

Reflections of a NaNoWriMo Newbie

November has come and gone, which means that NaNoWriMo is officially over. I started the beginning of the month with some trepidation and uncertainty, but I finished it - and accomplished writing 50,000 words in a month - calmly and without fanfare.

But I did it! I completed my first NaNo, and it was pretty great. I just thought I'd share some of the things I've learned, and where I'm planning to go from here.



1. Slow and steady wins the race

NaNoWriMo is often associated in my mind with a desperate rush to the finish where you're writing 10,000 words per day to make your goal. I don't know why I thought this would be me, since I'm not a last-minute kind of person. In my five years of university, I never pulled an all-nighter. I just can't do that. Some people need the pressure of the finish line looming to complete things, but I don't. Basically, NaNo was a reminder that I really should be writing at least a little bit every day. On good days, I would write more than necessary and get a little bit ahead so I could relax on the days when I just couldn't squeeze in more than a few minutes of writing time. By the time November 30 rolled around, I only had an easy 500 words to finish off.

2. Writing in community is always better

Having so many people with the same goal as you, cheering each other on, is so valuable. Like I've said before, I've realized over the past few years that writing shouldn't be a solitary thing. It's so much more fun and purposeful if you have people writing alongside you, struggling with the same things, and have an understanding of what you're doing and why you're doing it. I also had people IRL cheering me on (if they slightly misunderstood), and that helped too.


3. Writing consistently is key

Having written in between homework and school stuff for so long, I'd often go for weeks without writing anything, and it's really hard to get back into wherever I was thinking for the story and characters after a few day or week break. It's much easier to keep a pulse on where I want the story to go when I'm immersed in it almost every day.

These are all definitely lessons that I've talked about before, but they're definitely things I need to keep reminding myself. And mostly that I just need to write. I just need to get words on a page, and after that everything comes more easily. It's kind of weird, how I've been writing for years but I feel like I'm only just starting to figure out how to be a writer.

As for what's next... well I now have two drafts of things sitting for a bit until I go back to touch them up and then do the scary part... sending them off to people I trust for edits. In the meantime, though, I've got some ideas for a fantasy story so I think I'm going to take some time to do some world-building this month. Anyone have any world-building tips or tricks? How was your NaNo experience? Do you find NaNo valuable if you do it?

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