I met two big goals during the month of November. The first one was to participate in the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The purpose is to join writers from around the world and write 50,000 words in 30 days. I made this goal last year after reading posts from several writers I follow on social media. When they discussed how challenging and rewarding the experience was for them, I was hooked.
Not only did I meet my goal and participate this year, but I also met my second goal – “winning” the challenge by completing 50,000 words. My final word count was 56,272 with one week left to spare.
I say this not to brag, but to inspire others who are on the fence about participating in the event. I almost didn’t sign-up for fear I wouldn’t finish. I am proof, it IS possible to do NaNoWriMo and win, even when working full-time. It just takes committment and a little help from friends.
So looking back on the crazy month of writing, here’s some things I want to share that got me to the finish line.
- Before NaNoWriMo:
- Good preparation was the key, not just the book itself, but setting up everything around me for success. NaNoWriMo had several online resources that I found very helpful during the planning process.
- I made a small outline of the main points in my story which would keep me moving forward.
- To increase my motivation and accountability, I shared my commitment with others by posting this goal on all of my social media accounts.
- When the NaNoWriMo website opened, I created an author profile, joined a region, and found several writing buddies that I connected with online.
- I printed out a NaNoWriMo calendar to track my daily word count.
- During NaNoWriMo:
- Community Support: My online writing buddies served as a great connection to others working on the same goal. As the days moved forward, we emailed back and forth to push each other especially when our progress slowed. We also celebrated when the weekly milestones were met.
- Region support: My region was located several hours away and I couldn’t attend their in-person events. By reading their online forums, I could still stay updated and connected to the group from my home.
- Badges: These badges worked like a carrot dangled in front urging me to meet each milestone. Funny how watching a little icon pop up when you hit 5k, 10k, 25k, and then 50k could keep me motivated, but it definitely worked.
- Word counter tracker: I loved seeing this grow each day when I updated my numbers.
- Establish a writing routine: I planned each day around a scene I wanted to write. Most of the time it was written chronologically, but there were times where I was stuck and wrote a scene that played the most in my head that day.
- Keep the mindset of just putting words down: There were days when I struggled with this and I made up for those time during my long writing sprints. I often carried a notebook for notes or typed up scenes in my phone while I was on the move. Then later in the day, I transcribed these ideas into the computer. It was always surprising how many words those small blips of information turned out to be.
- Celebrate each writing goal: This was a must – I continued to read and treated myself to several new book releases from my favorite authors. I also splurged on little things like a manicure, shopping, a trip to the local coffee shop, or fun time with the family.
- Things that didn’t work out like I expected:
- I wish I could’ve blogged more to track my progress, but there wasn’t any extra time.
- With NaNoWriMo the rule is to turn off the inner editor and just write. I found this very difficult. Of course, I cheated and had to edit some. I just didn’t do this nearly as much as I normally do while writing. The biggest difference was when reading my work from the prior day, I didn’t dive in and start editing typos or problems within the story. I only tried this once and found my word count dropped quickly.
- What I learned:
- I was amazed by what I tackled this month simply by digging in and writing every day. During those 23 days of NaNoWriMo, I accomplished more than I did in almost 6 months with my first book.
- This tells me that with self-discipline, time in the seat, making a commitment, and keeping a small story idea moving foward can snowball and add up to something really big.
Now you might be asking me. . . would you do this again? ABSOLUTELY!
For my next NaNoWriMo, I want to plan more local activities in my surrounding area like write-ins or other fun events for Wrimos to write together. I also want to enlist more people in my community and several of my online writing friends to participate with me.
So I have to know, who plans on joining me for NaNoWriMo next year?