This was my first time participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I’ve never really given much thought to NaNoWriMo because I don’t write fiction, but just a few days before the November 1st kickoff, it occurred to me that it might be a good way to make some headway with my current project. So without much preparation, I created a NaNoWriMo account and set my goal for a chapter a day and a total of 25,000 words. I reached 26 chapters and 26,121 words on November 21 and declared myself successfully finished with NaNoWriMo 2019. Here’s what I thought of the experience.
- Okay, so I didn’t start from scratch. I’m not sure how many people actually do. I had a vast collection of half-written chapters and, at best, very rough drafts of completed chapters. I had an idea of which chapters I wanted to include in my next book, but, overall, the entire project was very scattershot. When I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, my first step was to really look at all the writing I had accumulated toward my current project and make a preliminary decision on what to include. So I started NaNoWriMo on Nov 1, with 8365 words.
- What I thought would be my biggest challenge with NaNoWriMo turned out to not be a challenge at all. I am one of those writers who edits as she writes, and I didn’t think I would meet my chap-a-day goal because I anticipated getting stuck perfecting every sentence instead of just getting my thoughts down. This is every bit of what keeps me from completing the writing projects I start. I get stuck translating a thought from my mind to the page, and instead of just moving on and coming back to it, I stop writing. But because I was tracking my progress on the NaNoWriMo website, I did not let myself get hung up on perfection. I think, also, that having done the work of pulling very specific chapters into this project, I had a more defined space, which made it easier to just push through.
- NaNoWriMo consumed me. I guess that’s the point. Every day on waking, I was writing in my mind. Every night before going to sleep, I was writing for the next day. In order to address the fact that I wasn’t editing, I would take a very small snippet of a chapter, pair it with a graphic, and post it on my website. This made me feel that I had been meticulous with at least some parts of the draft. It also added more pressure, but, hey…
- Though I exceeded my goal of 25,000 words before the end of the month, it wouldn’t have killed me to keep writing through the formal conclusion of NaNoWriMo. But I didn’t want to. I had generated enough excitement with how much I’d gotten done to really jump back in to the completion of the book. Honestly, I have more chapters than I need at this point.
- Will I do NaNoWriMo again? Mmm, yes, I guess so, but probably not for 2020. After getting this current project to publication, I don’t think I’ll have another project on the burner that soon. You never know, though. I just might.