I finished–and won!–NaNoWriMo yesterday and it is already starting to feel like a blur. A joyous, giddy, dream-like blur. The certificate helps to cement that it really happened. So, I’m glad I did it and am grateful to my family for being so supportive of me being in hyper-writing mode.
Here are a few things I learned along the way:
I have learned to Tell My Inner Editor to Zip It. I already have perfectionist tendencies (I’m in the process of tamping them down) and my writing and plotting move along much faster when I don’t overthink everything. That is for the editing phase(s). But, having to really focus on wordcount was great practice for just moving along with the words. That really got me into my story and helps me write faster. So, yay!
I have greater continuity when I Write Every Day. This summer, when I did JuNo, I had 12 zero days of writing. Argh. I still cranked out more words that month than I thought I could, but it taught me that those zero days add up. For July and then again in November, I made myself write every damn day. Even if it was just a few hundred words. While I only kept the 1667 minimum wordcount of NaNo going for the first eleven days of November, I made sure I wrote each day. Even if I didn’t know what I was going to write the next day, what I had written the previous day was fresh in my mind and I think that helped me get back into the story.
I resolve to Plot More Before I Write. Not having much in the way of my beats plotted out before starting NaNo was not fun, or ideal, but, hey, that’s how it happened. As I was writing I kept working on the bigger picture, both in an outline and with using the Scrivener notecards view. So, so helpful. Any time I got stuck, I referred to my outline-ish document and that helped to guide me. So, as a pantser-plotter hybrid I made it work. What remains to be truly gauged though is the quality of that plotting.
Something that hit me at various times during the month was how much NaNo forced me To Prioritize My Writing. Right now, I do it because I enjoy it, I love having a creative outlet, and it would be fun some day to put it out there and see what others think of it. Aside from my immediate family and a few close friends though, I don’t talk about my writing in my daily life. I think it is relegated to a hobby at this point, despite my having a pen name, website, tumblr, twitter, and pinterest presence. Okay, an intense hobby. 🙂 Still, in juggling my day job and family responsibilities, there was something empowering about owning the importance of carving out time to write. I loved that. NaNo made me take the preciousness of it away and just write when I can, even if it’s late at night or first thing in the morning. As I hope to get more serious about publishing down the road, that has to happen. NaNo felt like a turning point in making my writing (not just dreaming about characters or ideas), a really regular thing that I do. I write.
So, thanks to all the other official and unofficial NaNo’ers, to my twitter buddies, and to the cool writers who post motivational emails for being so encouraging in this crazy experience. It was totally worth it and I will be doing it again.
As for December, I plan to keep writing (daily!) and finish this draft of my WIP by the end of the month. If I can do it, that will be amazeballs. My goal is to get around 80,000 words, so that means a less-grueling pace than NaNo. But I prioritize my writing now, right? Ahem.
What are your post NaNo observations? Have there been turning points in your writing?