What I Learned From Nanowrimo

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I did it! I wrote 50,928 words of my new novel in the month of November. The first week was fun and easy. The second week was hard, the novelty had worn off and the ideas were not flowing as easily. The third week was back to fun and almost easy. The fourth week was simply a matter of writing enough words to finish my goal.

Here are the most important lessons I learned from doing this exercise.

  1. When I sit down to write—even if I don’t feel like it, good things flow from my fingertips. It was amazing how just an outline of ideas in my head turned into some fantastic scenes on my paper. My feelings did not dictate that part of my day, my will had already made the decision that I was going to sit and write.

 

  1. The difficult parts don’t have to trip me up. When I ignored them and just kept writing, I made so much more progress. When I stop at the difficult parts and fight with them, my flow is interrupted and frustration mounts—then I quit for the day. I do need to go back and rework the hard parts, but doing it later has turned out to be easier because it is in context of the whole story already on paper.

 

  1. It required a daily commitment no matter what. Making dinner, cleaning house, or calling a friend had to wait. I finished my words on Nov. 25th, well ahead of my deadline because I averaged 2,000 words per day. (It was made easier by the fact that my children are out on their own.)

 

  1. Surprises popped up out of nowhere. The end of my novel changed from my initial idea simply because I needed more words. The new ending adds a greater depth to my main character and to the climax of the story. I love it.

 

  1. I have created a new habit. Now, when that time of day arrives, my brain perks up and says, “Time to write.” The feeling is even stronger than the craving for chocolate—well, almost.

 

When I finished my story, I immediately began worrying. “Oh no! What will I write next year? I don’t have any ideas.” But then a character popped into my mind, one that came from a true news account I heard several years ago which intrigued me. I immediately wrote out an outline of a new story with this character at the center. I got so excited that I almost started the story right then and there. Instead I cherished those new ideas and tucked them away. I might write that story before next year’s Nanowrimo, and I might not.

So, now what is on your writing to-do list, you ask? Well, one of my previous novels needs to be finished. I have learned much about the craft of writing in the past year since I last worked on it, and it needs a few dents and scratches hammered out of it, then a buff with a sparkling polish. I hope to be in the market for a publisher some time soon.

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