What I Learned by Losing NaNoWriMO














Congratulations to all the winners of NaNoWriMo! I am so proud of your hard work and dedication. For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, follow this LINK. It is where writers from all walks of life try to write 50,000 words during the month of November. It is quite a feat.


Sadly, or not so sadly, I did not win for the second year in a row. My total word count is at 28,104.  I can sit here and tell you all the excuses. My career is more than 40 hours a week, I was sick for 10 days, etc. No one cares. Even though I did not hit my goal, I am very proud of myself and I learned a lot about my writing process.


I found out that I need to thoroughly plot my story before I even start. I thought I was a pantser. My first novel took me eight (that’s right 8) months to write the rough draft. Personally, the beginning is decent but the middle sags and the ending is weak. For NaNoWriMo, I plotted my story using the The Rock Your Plot by Yardley. It definitely helped. My characters are more rounded and my story is not meandering through a field of flowers. It is going somewhere. My next story I plan to plot in more detail as I was stuck in the middle of my current WIP.


I am a morning person. I get up before the sun is even a glimmer on the horizon. This is my most productive time of day. I walk the dogs, feed my horses, workout, read a bit, and get ready for work. I thought that I could wake up 30 minutes earlier and use that as my writing time. Boy, was I wrong. In the morning, I have a lot of anxiety to get everything done before I walk out the door. My creative juices were not flowing at that time of day. Instead, I found I write faster and have less staring at the wall if I write in the late afternoon to early evening, right when I get home from work. My hubby says it decompresses me and I am much more fun to be with after I write.


I discovered I write better when hanging out with another writer. My brother came to visit me for a week. He said the vacation was his “writing retreat”. I wrote so much more sitting next to him than I do at my desk, by myself. I don’t know about write-ins with lots of people. I didn’t make it to any in, because of the work thing. I anticipate they would not work as well for me as writing with one person. In college, I used to study with only one or two other people. I could never do the group study thing.


I tend to write more words on Friday through Monday evening. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were not productive writing days. I was too tired from work and could not concentrate on my story. My attention span maxes out at about 1,000 words/sitting. So trying to get to 1,667 words/day was not feasible for me and caused unnecessary anxiety.


Lastly, I discovered I enjoy writing in Microsoft Word. I tried the trial period for Scrivener. It is awesome. The program has so many bells and whistles. I enjoyed the way writing was on there. The problem was I became easily distracted with all the cool things it can do. Word has been in my life for years and all its gadgets don’t tempt me. Plus, my brother has Word. I just send him my document for his opinion.


This NaNoWriMo was a great experience for me, and I can’t wait to redo my writing schedule to accomplish more. I would recommend every writer to try it. You don’t have to wait until next November either. There are camps in April and July, which I think are much more fun!


Did you try NaNoWriMo? How did you do? What did you learn from the experience?

~Allie~

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