Thursday, December 3, 2020

A Lesson from NaNoWriMo

Greetings, dear readers. I don't know about you, but I have hit a wall with Covid. Or maybe it's just the holiday season getting to me. I find this time of year to be incredibly overwhelming. Cooking, cleaning, decorating and shopping. It's a lot. So that's probably why I have never been quite 'successful' at NaNoWriMo.

And, lord knows, I have tried.

I've been doing National Novel Writing Month for over a decade and I have never "won." Not even this year when I should've. After all, I've written several full-length novels by now. I should be able to write 1,667 words a day. I've written 10K words in a weekend. During the pandemic (which I know we are still in), I wrote 30K words in three weeks. So I have it in me. But why can't I draft 50K words in a month?

Well, I know why.

I don't want to.

I had started off strong. I got to Day 11 with no trouble. Racked up my word count. And that's when I saw the issue. In an effort to draft fast, my story was falling apart, and everything I typed out was garbage. And, yes, I know the point of NaNoWriMo is to simply draft. Words on the page. Edit later. But in an effort to eek out words, I was beginning to loathe my book. There was no joy in the drafting. No marveling over a great sentence. No staring into space, trying to figure out what my character would say or do. I was simply vomiting on the keyboard. 

For the longest time, I had always thought word-count goals was the best way forward. On non-NaNo days, I would tell myself to write a thousand words. But putting that kind of output on myself meant that I would just be typing nonsense. I have since learned that it is best if I just commit to a time slot for writing. Every morning from 9am to 11am, I will work. That could mean brainstorming, research, or simply drafting slowly. 

I definitely know that I need to write several days a week to keep the momentum going. If I take too much time off my drafting, I forget the story threads. But working within a set time frame, as opposed to forcing myself to draft a certain amount of words, makes the entire process a lot easier on my anxious soul. Because focused work drives momentum, no just the word count tally.

So, dear friends, what lessons did you take away from NaNoWriMo this year? 

Please sound off in the comments.

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