How I Nailed NaNoWriMo
Like many other writers, I accepted the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge to write a novel (or at least 50K words of one) during the month of November. This being my first time participating, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After 30 days of nearly continuous writing (I took 2 days off to work on another project with a pressing deadline) I finished with 50,182 words and a decent first draft of a new science fiction novel!
Now as most writers know, writing daily can be easy or excruciating depending on the circumstances going into the session. One of the most difficult parts of this challenge was the feeling that I couldn’t miss a day, even if I wasn’t particularly inspired to write anything. My initial goal was to get ahead early. That plan failed miserably! If you look at my NaNo graph, every time I pulled ahead, something would come up (remember those break days?) to thwart my advance.
Yet, somehow I managed to “win” by getting all my words.
How did I accomplish this feat?
Well, I had a great support system of writing buddies to cheer me on and keep me going. Often we would meet on twitter and complete “writing sprints” together by writing for a set amount of time and then tweet our word count for the duration. I also had my own motivation in the form of a sticker chart (yes stickers!) where I would earn a small sticker for every 250 words and a big sticker when I hit my daily goal of 1750 words. There were so many days I would have quit if it weren’t for that big sticker reward.
So, what did I learn from this experience?
Firstly, I am a very consistent writer. Whatever word count I achieve in the first thirty minutes of writing typically stays the same for the duration of the session. I have always been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants author, but I outlined extensively (meaning I spent an entire hour placing chapter markers and notes for all 30 days) and that helped get me through the dead zones of the book. I am incapable of writing without editing at the same time, and although it cost me on my daily count, I’m hoping it will also mean when I revisit the story in a few months, I’ll still like it.
Finally, all this begs the question; will I participate again next year?
Well, in the interest of preserving my marriage, my official answer right now is "maybe". However, I predict that by the time next November first rolls around, my fingers will once again be poised over the keyboard ready to type with reckless abandon for another 30 days…
Thanks Sarah, that was a really interesting account of your NaNo experience - love the sticker chart idea! Getting ahead of yourself and something coming up to 'thwart' your advances sounds so familiar, even to me, an as yet non-NaNo writer.
Check out more from Sarah Lafleur on her website, find her on Facebook, and on Twitter - how we connected initially! She's also got an author page on Amazon, so take a look!
More from me next week - keep writing!
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