What I Learned From NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, will end tomorrow at midnight. While many are having celebratory posts about winning with the awesome word count of 50,000, I am not celebrating in that way. I am celebrating the fact that, with the exception of two days, I wrote every day. It may have only been 200 words, but I sat down and wrote. That’s huge for me, and that’s worth celebrating.

As of today, I have written 30,012 words. That’s about 1000 words a day, which is what Mary Connealy aims for daily. I’m in great company, aren’t I? But more than that, I have learned a few things during this NaNoWriMo month.

  1. November is the worst month for literary abandon. Seriously, whoever decided that NaNoWriMo should be during the month of Thanksgiving was crazy. Between baking, family time, and napping, it really dipped into my writing time.
  2. I write best in the mornings. While this is a good thing to find out, it’s also a bad thing. It’s good to know that I am clear headed in the mornings and the word count grows exponentially, but it’s bad in that I have to get up at 4:30 a.m. in order to write for an hour and get a quiet time with the Lord. (I work full time and have to be at work at 7:15 a.m.) Now that in itself is not too bad, but the problem comes when I get home and am like a zombie, trying to put food on the table and do laundry while wearing some heavy duty Cranky Pants. Trying to be creative is almost impossible.
  3. I need a detailed outline in order to write fast. I had worked on my plot for my NaNo story and had the major Acts and the basic goals and conflicts ready. But I floundered when it came to fleshing it out on a day to day basis. I had to spend time to think of upcoming scenes in order for my fingers to fly over the keyboard and get them on the screen. 
  4. I have a very loud internal editor. Very loud. I could be writing away, happy to be getting the words down, when all of a sudden a loud, snarky voice told me it was all drivel. I had plot holes. I had missing characters. I had no setting description. I had -ly adverbs. Blah, blah, blah… I tried using ear muffs…not helpful.
  5. I am too old to stay up late and write. I used to stay up late, well past midnight, lost in another world between the pages of a great book. But no more. I conk out before 11 p.m. every night. Actually, 10:30 p.m. is doing good these days. No, if I’m going to write, it’s gotta be before 10 p.m. (and my writing is not as good as my morning writing.)
  6. NaNo is a great tool to get you back in a writing routine. There’s nothing like accountability to keep you on track, and there’s nothing like doing something for 30 days to get you in a good routine. 
So there is my NaNo Adventure for 2010. I’m glad I tried it, and I am proud of myself for getting as far as I did. It’s another step on my writing journey, and an interesting one at that!
What goals have you set for yourself that you have met recently? Or have failed, but are happy with anyway?

22 responses to “What I Learned From NaNoWriMo”

  1. Glad for you Sherrinda!! That's awesome that you got that many words in and you're right, it's all about getting into a routine.

    November is an odd choice, isn't it? Why not February. Not much happens in February.


  2. Yay!! Glad that you accomplished so much, Sherrinda! 30,000 is no walk in the park! I honestly don't know if I could even do that in one month! As you said, the important thing is the consistency in writing. It helps keep the story flowing and keeps our writing fresh.

    Have a wonderful day back to work! 🙂


  3. I think it's fabulous that you did this much with your hectic schedule, and learned some things about yourself in the process. Mighty valuable, I'd say!

    I set a goal this year to publish in four new markets–the Lord allowed me five. He always goes above and beyond!


  4. Congrats on your 30,000 words! I agree on the Nov. thing. It'd make much more sense in Jan. when everyone is armed with resolutions and motivation.


  5. I'm so with you on #1. November? Really? Anyway, congrats on the awesome word count. I think a habit of 1000 words a day is a lot more useful than frying your brain to cram 20k into the last week and a half of the month. 😀


  6. Woohoo! 30K words! That's about what I managed for the month too.

    I learned that I thrive on competition when it comes to word count. Since I was only shadowing Nano this year, I didn't get to participate in the local write-ins and get that contact with other writers. Word wars. That's what I needed…


  7. Congratulations on those 30,000 words, Sherrinda. Since you work full-time, care for a family, and celebrated Thanksgiving during the period, I think your word count is very impressive.

    I hear you on the Internal Editor. Mine doesn't whisper. She shouts. Often. And gets mighty annoying. I have to muzzle her at times. At others, I shut the door of my office–with her on the other side.


  8. My goal was to finish a first draft I started in May. I have half a chapter left, so I think I'm going to come in under the wire! I write by hand, so I counted words for a while just for the fun of it, but that eventually fell by the wayside. The draft is something of a mess, but I'm happy. I still believe in the story and I've got something to work with.


  9. WOW! 30K is fantastic!!! And I thought the same thing about the time of year to start NaNo. Around Thanksgiving and right before the holiday? Eew. October would be better. 🙂


  10. Katie, I'm with you! February would be the perfect month for writing a book!

    Jody, thank you! You are always so encouraging! And yes, I do believe YOU could do it easy!

    Jeanette!! Five new markets? Wow! How awesome to exceed your goal. God must be smiling down on you.

    Sarah, January would be a great month. I didn't think about the motivation of resolutions.

    Charity! Congrats to you on your NaNo word count! It's hard to write during this month, so just think what we could do in a slower month!

    Erica, I love a little competition. I've started to do the 1K1HR on Twitter and it's worked out pretty well for me. Maybe we can war it out together. 😉


  11. Keli, my internal editor yells at me some, but I really tried to ignore it. It was difficult. Very difficult!

    Elisabeth! That's awesome! Way to go in finishing up! There is something incredibly fulfilling in finishing a goal.

    Jennifer, I'm with ya. October is a much better month thank November. Maybe I will do my own NaNo.


  12. Thank you SO much for sharing that! I've never taken part in NaNo, because my day is a lot like yours and I am also a morning person. I do good to find time for 1000 wds/day and felt intensely guilty about that! Good to know I'm not alone. Congrats on your accomplishment. You learned something about yourself, which is never a waste of time.


  13. LOVE your new layout! And these are great lessons! Congrats on writing every day–and for 30K+!


  14. Hey, things look great around here!

    And your list is too funny! I'm in perfect agreement with you! Why in the world November of all months? I vote March, it's much more subdued, or even January. I'm thinking a single man with no children thought up NaNo and planted it right in the middle of the Holidays. 😉

    BTW, your comment today on Rachelle's log really struck me! I'm shocked that someone basically stole your father's work and actually might be profiting from it! I hope it gets resolved fast. I'm curious about the outcome.


  15. Betty! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! I'm honored! And it's good to know a published author gets in 1000 words a day and can make it!

    Kristen, thanks! I like the new layout too. I thought it might be a bit busy, but it really drew me.

    T.Anne, I am so shocked about my dad's book being put on Kindle without his knowledge. He is doing some investigating, so we will see what comes of it. I'll do a blog post about it. 😉


  16. First, love the new look of your blog!
    Second, over 30K?? You did awesome!
    Third, November is a terrible month for NaNo!

    Congrats on your accomplishment!


  17. Hi Sherrinda –

    I agree. November is an awful month to have NaNo.

    30,000 words is fabulous!

    Susan 🙂


  18. Eeek! I don't think I could do Nano. Congrats on the 30k. That's incredible! You should def. be proud of yourself. 🙂
    I wrote about 15k in one or two weeks and since it was hard, I was proud of myself. *grin*


  19. Jill, thanks! I was ready for a new blog look. This one drew me in. 🙂

    Susan, I'm hoping that I can do something similar this summer while I'm off work! I'd love to write a whole book this summer.

    Jessica, Sure you could NaNo! If you wrote 15k in one-two weeks, you could definitely do NaNo!


  20. That's one of the greatest pictures I've ever seen!

    Sherrinda, this blog rocks! Such a combo of heart and poignancy and humor!

    Great writer's voice.


  21. Congrats on your NaNo accomplishment. I tried to get a head start on Christmas cards, but I'm lagging behind. Oh, well, I could be ahead for next year.

    Your new blog layout is very pretty


  22. Patti, isn't that a cool picture? I just googled something…can't remember now, and that was one of the photos. I loved it! And my voice? I didn't think I really had one yet. 😉

    CJ, I am amazed at anyone who does their own cards. I can't even make myself send out premade ones! You are awesome!


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