Thursday, December 5

NaNoWriMo Lessons

Things I learned on my way to losing NaNo. 

Number 1--It doesn't matter if you win or lose, as long as you play. Okay. Maybe I have to believe that since I've never won NaNo. For me, it is virtually impossible to write 50K in one month. I told myself in the beginning, that I'd be happy to finish at 30K. I ended up with a little over 15K.

Number 2--I learned to the let the details go. I put in caps when there was something I wanted to come back to--even if it was just a mannerism that I wasn't really sure about right at the moment I was writing it.

Number 3--When letting the details go, keep a piece of paper of questions you want answers for to research at a later time. Usually I let these details hang me up but this time I jotted down the question and kept going.

Number 4--I am still unable to put down words that I know I will have to take out just to make a word count quota. I know people who will have a character sing an entire song--American Pie, maybe?--just to make their word count. I think that is cheating. If you fill the screen with nonsense, you're not helping yourself or your book.

Number 5--Life will get in the way. It is inevitable. It is up to me how much I let life control my writing time. For the first couple of weeks I did a really good job of maintaining my idea of a writing schedule. And one blissful day I wrote for 4.5 uninterrupted hours at B&N and produced 5K words. 5K! In one day. It was amazing. And wonderful. And the last day that I wrote that much. Sure, I had a couple more 1k days, but nothing like that day.

Why? Because I had to write in short blocks of time. Before work. In between appointments. And I didn't use my days off wisely. I chose poorly. 

Number 6--I will probably attempt to win again next year. Even though I say now that it is virtually impossible for me to write 50K in one month, I hold out hope that I will jump that final hurdle and launch myself over the finish line. 

The experience is usually for the better. I wrote 15K on a brand new project--one that I believe could have potential. But then I think that about everything I write. But doing NaNo gave me the chance to put my current project on hold so I could focus on a new shiny object. Hopefully the time away will work to my advantage and the WIP will take off when I get back into it this week or next.

So--again I'm having trouble making the write choice. Do you realize that it's less than three weeks until Christmas??? On my last two days off, my sister and I made coasters. A truck load of ceramic coasters. And I'm not done yet. They're so much fun. Although at this point I'm going to have to give everyone I know a set of coasters to get rid of them--or get more tables scattered around my house.

But I am returning to the keyboard. See? Evidence sumitted.


  1. Congrats on your 15K! I think you should be glad you got that far. I didn't nano - not sure if it's the right method for me. And I totally understand #5.

    Re #2 and #3, I put an asterisk next to my all-caps-things-to-be-fixed so I can search for them easily. Then I just jump from one to the next when I'm ready for revisions. Usually, it's something like *SETTING or *LASTNAME, but it could also be a longer sentence (I guess that would increase the wordcount "unfairly" though).

  2. Thanks Laura! One of the caps thing was he does something snidely. I figured I would probably add more words if I actually described it, so I thought it was fair.

    Yep, number five is killer sometimes :)

  3. You are a super star for even taking on NANO! I write (relatively) quickly...but NANO intimidates me so I have never even tried. Great lessons - not just for NANOers, but for every day.

  4. 15K is HUGE! I never do NANO. It hurts my arms too much. I commend you for trying! Good job and super lessons learned!

  5. Yes, superstar is right. I could never do it, even in the old days of writing fast; I got overwhelmed immediately! Your lessons are good ones!

  6. Thank you to my cheering section! You guys are the best :)

  7. I won NaNo once, but I just didn't like the finished product at all. Putting out 50,000 words in one month doesn't match my style, which is to go back every writing session and do a quick run-through of what I wrote the previous day. For me, I ended up with a much better manuscript, while the NaNo one was such a mess that the editing job intimidated me. Still, whatever works!