how I'm doing with NaNoWriMo so far [and what I've learned]

Friday, November 17, 2017


I wanted to take a little bit of time today to update y'all on how NaNoWriMo has been going for me so far. If you are new around here, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, and it's one of my favorite things that I participate in all year round.

If you are following me on Twitter, you know that I had a thoroughly planned novel ready to go when I suddenly changed my mind and came up with a totally new idea on October 31. My original plan was a contemporary young adult novel where all of my characters had names and backstories and families and personality traits but suddenly, I was writing a fantasy novel in an imaginary world, none of my characters had names, my made-up world didn't have a name and I gave people magical powers as I thought of them.

It has been a wild ride.

But I love NaNoWriMo and everything it stands for, and I am just happy to be getting words on a page. And hey – who knew, I am actually loving the fantasy story I am telling, and every NaNo previous, I have ended up hating my contemporary YA novel halfway through. Maybe I am onto something here.

STATUS UPDATE

• I have written 35,000 words so far. This has been amazing for me, and I am way ahead of schedule (the goal for Day 17 is 28,333 words). I hit the ground running on Day 1 and wrote 3,000 words, and while there have been a few days where I have only gotten out a few hundred words, most days I am hitting the 1,666 goal and surpassing it. I am putting words on the page and that is huge for me!

• I am using Dabble to tell my story. I use Dabble, which is currently free for NaNo participants but will be a paid program in December, to write my story. And I plan on subscribing after NaNoWriMo, because they are offering 50 percent off to all winners. It is a really great browser and desktop app that works for me and makes it easy to organize my notes and my story, and I will really appreciate it come editing time. There are other softwares out there like Scrivener but I've heard they are really complicated – I am thankful for this simple interface!

• My characters, for the most part, have names. This has been big, because on Day 1, I was totally winging it. No one had a name! But I am thinking of changing my main character's name.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED SO FAR

• I do not need to be embarrassed to talk about my novel. I still hesitate sometimes to explain my novel to people – saying, "I am writing a young adult fantasy novel set in a world where everyone has magic in their blood, but the main character can control and take magic from others." and going on to explain what that means has taken me some time to be OK with, but instead of being embarrassed, I instead am proud – proud that I have had this idea in the first place and proud that I am putting words on the page! So, I am using this to remind myself that I should never, ever feel anything but proud about the things I create.

• If I get writer's block, I switch to writing by hand for a while. This has been crucial to me, and I want to use it for other tasks/projects as well. The minute I get clogged up while typing, I switch to writing on a legal pad! The words just flow out of me, and because I can't backspace, I do not care if they're good – I know I can tidy them back up when I type up what I wrote into Dabble later. This effectively destroys any writer's block I am experiencing, right away.

• Rewards, big and small, are crucial. When you have huge tasks or tedious projects in front of you, give yourself rewards. I created a little reward chart for myself, and rewarded myself with things I have been wanting to buy for myself when I reached important goals (5K, 10K, 20K, 30K, 40K and 50K are my milestones). Knowing that I could finally order those Crayola brush tip pens when I reached 10K is what got me going in the first few days of NaNoWriMo to meet my goal a week early.

Let yourself get ahead when you feel like it. I knew that it was always important in NaNoWriMo to write when you feel the urge so that you can pad your word count for later and to never walk away at 1,666 words just because you met your daily goal, but more than ever, I have been taking advantage of any bursts of energy and any free time I have to get ahead. I even wrote in the Uber on the way to the airport last week!

• Find community. I have been meaning to go to write-ins with members of the Chapel Hill NaNoWriMo community and haven't made it there yet – although I am hoping this weekend will be my chance, since I am calling the next week my vacation – but I am finding community with a few friends of mine who are participating in NaNo as well as just tweeting about it often and using the hashtags. I'm participating in word sprints and responding to let people know my word count. I am being very public about what I am doing so that I can encourage myself and feel connected when I struggle – instead of like I am fighting my own battles by myself.


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Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you ever heard of it before?

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