Thoughts on my first attempt at NaNoWriMo

Hello,everyone! As I mentioned in my last post, I participated in NaNoWriMo and I thought I’d share some of my  experience and thoughts about that process.

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, an annual contest in which people try to write a 50,000 word story in the month of November. This was my first attempt at NaNo and I failed. I knew I wasn’t going to reach the goal of 50,000 words for two reasons. One was that my schedule was very up and down during that month, so I figured it would be better to have a more manageable goal. The second reason was that I hate word counts. I hated them in college and I will hate them forever. I’m not even sure why I don’t like word counts. I think it’s because they cause me to focus more on the word count rather than the quality of the words and sentences and paragraphs I’m putting on the page. So I set myself the seemingly more reachable goal of 2 pages a day, 60 pages for the whole month.

While I had every intention of writing every day, I quickly fell into a pattern. I would write my 2 pages, maybe a little more, for a few days of the week, then wouldn’t write anything for the rest of the week. I was initially angry with myself for developing this kind of pattern, but then I shook it off and tried to make the most of it. I draft long-handed and was pleased to fill up a notebook I had been using since the spring of 2015 and to start using one that I had started drafting a story in, but decided to put it on the back burner (where it simmers still). I did NaNo with some a few friends, which was great. We were able to report and talk about our progress and different problems and victories we encountered. It’s always nice to have friends along when you try to take on a challenge and I definitely encourage anyone who wants to try NaNo in the future or who maybe hasn’t been successful with it in the past, to try to get some friends involved. It can be a little distracting, but it will definitely help.

Not only did I fail my first attempt at NaNo, but I also kind of cheated. The idea of the contest is to work on a new idea and I worked on a manuscript that I have been formulating for the past two years but only began working on in earnest in June. I went from page 71 to page 109 in my manuscript. It wasn’t what I hoped would happen, but it was pretty great all the same.

The thing that really stood out to me about NaNo was how normal and right it felt. Other than the fact that I had my friends checking up on me every now and then and I beat myself up more severely than usual for not writing, NaNo was incredibly similar to what my creative life normally is. And I take that as a very good sign. Now that it’s all over, I’m still trying to work on my novel every day. It’s a struggle, but one that I’m learning to wrestle with. I bet you’re wondering what I’ve been working on, but I’m afraid that will have to remain a secret until the manuscript is in much better shape than it is. This is my first draft of the story and though I’ve been building it in my head for nearly two years, it still has a long way to go before I’ll be comfortable sharing it. But this is where the magic happens, where the story and the people become real. In the years that I was slaving away on my degree, I had forgotten the sheer bliss of worlds flowering under my pencil, of people becoming real through my words. I’m so lucky to be able to experience that and it’s something I thank God for regularly.

I hope you enjoyed this little writing ramble and I hope all is well with you, dear readers. God bless you!

 

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