What I Learned During NaNoWriMo 2016

Well, looky here:

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I’m a NaNoWriMo winner! For the first time ever!

Okay, confession. I cheated a tiny bit because this is a book that I’ve been struggling to get past 15k for the past year but at least I wrote fifty…thousand…words.

The book is about a sort-of-not-dead prince and he’s 90% a jerk in the beginning of the book but doesn’t mean it, and he’s 80% a jerk in the end but a well-meaning jerk.

Before NaNo I was:

  • terrified: November is basically the month where people like to pile on papers and exams and panic. And this is my first one. November being NaNo month is one of the reasons I never participated in it: I never  have time.
  • nervous: 50k in 30 days?! You crazy?!?
  • kicking and screaming: I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to do it. I don’t want…

During NaNo I was:

  • still terrified because 50k is kind of insane. Okay, very insane.
  • happy: OMG, I’m actually doing this. I’m actually trying to write a book.
  • confused: I forgot what I wrote last night.
  • sad: I’m so so so behind on the word count. I will never be able to finish NaNo. I’ll just stick to reading this boring book for class. Maybe next year.

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  • angry: notice that I hardly wrote anything on Day 8 or 9. I just couldn’t. And the recovery period was hard as well.

But! I emerged victorious. Kind of. I wished NaNo validated the rest of my words. I’m not quite sure how they check if you wrote more than 50k since my document says it was 50,207 and according to the website, I only did 50,005. No matter because this was such a wonderful experience.

I learned a lot of things about writing and myself. For instance:

  • I don’t like sitting on my butt when I write. I tend to kneel a lot on my chair and it’s a foldable chair so…you can see where this is going.
  • OUTLINES. I wish I did an outline before I started NaNo. It would have made my life so much easier.
  • People like to talk to you when you are clearly giving out signs that YOU DO NOT WANT TO TALK.
  • That I can do 50k in 30 days. Correction: 50k…and 5 words in 30 days. Yes, I am an overachiever.
  • Writing is scary and rewarding at the same time. When I get to a scene where everything works and I can actually SEE things going together in a cohesive manner, I am ecstatic and saying “Yeah, go me!”. Of course, the opposite is true: I get to days where I’m just lost and unsure what to do with this scene or this character. Will I completely ruin the trajectory of this piece if I changed this up?
  • This a total “uh, duh.” moment but writing is HARD. You kind of forget that when you’re reading a great book but authors spend a hell of a long time writing and editing and rewriting. It’s not easy to create a world that grabs your attention and compelling characters and make you want to curse the author for writing this brilliant book or bless this author for writing this brilliant book.
  • That I need to be flexible in my own work. I did try to make an outline halfway through NaNo and I did try to follow it but around Day 22 or so, I had this burst of inspiration where this new idea suddenly traipsed in and I just HAD to include it in my story. So I did have to change it around even if I had to delete stuff.

So what’s after NaNo?:

First, I have to survive this week. I have to finish some papers and read a couple of books for class and then exams will hit me and I’ll be drowning in those.

But AFTER?

  • I’m going to finish this novel by the end of the year. Of course, this is after I outline this monstrous thing and figure out EXACTLY what I’m writing.

I’m hesitant to say what the novel is about, hence the very vague synopsis, because I’m not totally sure yet but once I do finish it *fingers crossed for a celebratory post about that before January 2017*, I’ll talk about it and explain what it’s about more fully since right now…it’s still a little muggy.

  • I’m going to do NaNo again! I have another idea in the works that is itching to get written. I liked seeing my progress throughout the days and seeing that bar graph is a nice daily pat on the back. Except when it doesn’t move. Theeeeen, that’s a not-so-nice pat on the back.

Did any of you participate in NaNo? What are your books about?! Did you learning something about yourself? CONGRATS TO ALL NANO2016 PARTICIPANTS because you are ALL winners even if you wrote 1 word or 100k words. You took the first big step in becoming writers.

I’d offer you cake but you guys can write one for yourselves.

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8 thoughts on “What I Learned During NaNoWriMo 2016

  1. Yay congrats for finishing!! This was my fifth year and I can definitely confirm that outlines make everything soooo much easier. I find that it takes me double the time to write a thousand words when I’m not sure where a scene is heading. If I’ve written a huge outline for that scene it’s easy just to type it out.

    Anyway, woohoo, go you!

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  2. Congratulations on completing your goal! I’ve wanted to participate for awhile, but you’re right–November is an inconvenient time of year to dedicate to writing.

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  3. YAY YAY CONGRATS YOU WONDERFUL WRITING FIEND! *flings cake crumbs of celebration at you* I did do NaNo! It was my 3rd year and it was kind of the most messy book I’ve ever written…but ah, that’s what editing is for right?!😂 I also looove outlines. And I generally am mostly lying down when I write on my bed. Which is probably REALLY BAD for me but whatever. One does what one must for the muse. I’m glad you’ve figured out how to be flexible with your outline though! That’s really awesome and a really helpful skill!

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  4. Wow – That’s an amazing achievement – congratulations 🙂 I totally failed Nano – A mere 5K only which puts my wip at a nice 25K. Lol hopefully this month will be more productive…. But yay for outlines, I think I would go crazy without them!

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