6 In Books & Writing

4 Lessons Learned from my First NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Most nerds like me (and perhaps you?), will have heard about this. It happens in November and makes for a hectic month of typing, scribbling and madness.

My own version of NaNoWriMo happened a little earlier in the year, when I was on holiday at my parents’ country home and wrote about 25 000 words for my novel in about 3 weeks. Being at the peace and quiet of the country side, and mainly not having internet, really helps type away.

Because it came so easy to me during the summer, last November, I decided that I should give NaNoWriMo a go! I can totally do this – I mean I blog every day, and I already spent like 3 weeks writing every day, fully dedicated – this will be easy!

haha …no! It wasn’t. It was a failure, to put it nicely. I don’t think I was prepared beforehand and also I don’t think I was prepared for the commitment (especially while having a life). Today, I thought that I would share the lessons I learned from my first (failed) attempt!


LESSON ONE :  Have an idea ready.

This one goes without saying, but it’s better to have a clue of what you will be doing before starting this marathon challenge!

LESSON TWO:  Stick with your original idea.

That was definitely one of my mistakes early one. I changed my mind three times the first week, slowing me down exponentially with the word count. I wrote 5000 of the first story, then got bored and wasn’t sure where it was going, so switched to a second idea – that one didn’t last long – and then on to a third. By then, I was so behind that I just gave up. Giving up equals failure.

LESSON THREE:  Plan the crap out of it.

I saw that advice being given literally the day before starting – and I wish I had seen it before because it is perhaps the most useful thing you’ll hear about this project. If you have an idea beforehand, there is nothing that stops you from writing down character bios, a plot, ideas of obstacles and events, etc. The more you plan, the easier it will be once you have that blank page in front of you.

Although, if you have already read my thoughts on novel writing, you’ll know that I’m terrible with planning a plot. I’ve even been told some of my stories don’t have a plot… so that is definitely one of my biggest weaknesses.

LESSON FOUR: Make sure to assign time every day.

Those 5000 words that you didn’t write the last few days? Yeah, you’ll never catch up. I told myself that every time I started a new storyline and, yeah well I never did catch up, did I? I see myself as a writer, I write every single day, whether it’s at work or for the blog or even for a fiction story. I found this commitment, however, very difficult! Obviously I had other things to do, and sometimes told myself that I should wait until an idea sparked. Yeah you don’t have time to wait! The words need to be typed today or they might not be at all!

In conclusion, the commitment to the story and to the month was much bigger than I anticipated. But looking back on it, I learned a few valuable lessons about writing and about life (like giving up is a sure way to fail). Hopefully, I get my shit together this year and crush this next November!

Have you ever attempted NaNoWriMo? What would be your advice?xx


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