November 20, 2010

What I've Learned from NaNoWriMo

Dear Heavens!

National Novel Writing Month is taking over my life! At every free moment, I hunker down with my little netbook in my lap and I force myself to type, type, type. I hit 31,000-words last night (huzzah!) but I still have 20,000-words to hammer out before the end of the month (wahhhh!). Poor Justin...he keeps nudging me to get of the house but I shake my head and tell him I still need to write 1500-words to meet my daily count. Thank God for patient husbands!

Anyway, I still have 10 days left for NaNoWriMo but I've picked up a few lessons in the past few weeks. If I decide to tackle this again next year, I hope I can remember these points to save myself some grief:

1.) Outlines are your friends, especially for NaNo. 
Truth be told, I'm totally a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort of writer and it works for me since my stories tend to unfold organically. BUT, the pantser method doesn't work well when you're trying to churn out 50K words in the span of four weeks. As I've entered the middle of my novel, I really wish I had an outline to refer to because I have no effing clue as to how Point B should lead to Point C. Blargh!

2.) Healthy competition is a good thing. 
I attempted NaNo last year but I gave up early because I didn't know anyone else who was doing it and I became distracted by shiny things, like cupcakes and peacoats.

This year, however, I've registered with the official NaNo site and I've added about 15 friends to my buddy list. (Some of these people have no idea who I am. I just lurk on their blogs and I wanted more buddies so I added them. Bwahaha!) It definitely fuels my fire when I see my buddies hitting the 30K or 40K mark---and I realize how much I need to make up. So...make friends when doing NaNo! It has helped me feel less lonely and it has lit a bright fire under my ass to crank out more words.

3.) Try to write something every day, even if it's only 50 words. 
Yep, sometimes it gets hard to motivate myself to write 1500- or 2000-words per day. Why? Because there are so many things that are more fun to do than churning out words: Watching movies! Taking a nap! Shopping for hats! Cleaning toilets! But I've quickly learned that I can't slack off on NaNo because then I have to make up a lot of words, which causes me to give up because I don't think I can do it. A little each day goes a long way! (Hehe, that rhymes.)

4.) Accept the fact that you will write crap.
Whoo boy, some of these chapters I'm writing are incredibly stinky! Like, really really stinky. And should be deleted right away. But you know what? That's okay. NaNo is all about quantity rather than quality---it's about getting your rough draft finished so you can get to work on editing the darn story (yay! I love editing!).

Admittedly, it has been really tough for me to turn off my inner-editor, but I know it's for the best because it'll take me another year to finish this draft if I revert to my normal slow-ass pace. Go crappy writing!

How are you guys doing with your NaNo projects? Any lessons you've picked up along the way?


  1. I've learned that being sick or tired is no excuse not to write IF and ONLY if the writing I'm doing is in the rough draft form. Revision work is best left for revising when healthier.

    But writing while sick can be extremely liberating because you know you're not exactly churning out your best right then and there, and you can actually let go of the need to have that perfect word.

  2. NIce post, Caroline.

    Last year, NaNo taught me that you can't tell by reading your writing back over whether you were in a good mood or bad mood when you first wrote it.

    This year I'm a NaNo drop-out. At first I was all hyper about not 'winning' and getting to 50k, but now I don't mind not reaching the goal.

    For me, NaNo has served its purpose in getting me back to the keyboard and writing each day.

    Good luck in getting to your goal!

  3. I'm a NaNo dropout as well. I've never been a NaNo winner, but it's not my goal either. I use it to silence my inner critic. NaNo does many things for many people;-)

  4. I'm doing my own form of NaNo this month- just trying to hit 20,000 words. Life is just too crazy at work in November to contemplate 50,000 words. But I'm on track for my own goal!

    Good luck!

  5. My role during NaNo November is to write as little as possible all month. This creates balance in the universe. Somehow. It's like I'm creating dark matter.

    Actually, I'm revising.

    I know, right?

    That word sends shivers right down to my toenails, too.

    Good luck and keep turning that crank to get those words out.

  6. It's nearly over!!!

    Great tips. Although I had an outline and deviated form it hugely, so much so I think I've actually written a completely different book :)