Lessons From NaNoWriMo (2015 Edition)

7:00 AM


This past month I participated in NaNoWriMo (and won!) for the third year straight. Here's what went down this time around.


Last year I was finished with the goal of 50k a little less than halfway through the month. How? I honestly don't remember. I may have had some kind of supernatural help that year. I've always set extremely high goals for myself when it comes to writing, which is something I'm trying to get better at recognizing, but this means that I went into this year's NaNo thinking it would be a piece of cake.

It wasn't.

It's been a really, really weird year, in lots of ways. I've had a lot of stuff heaped onto the pile that I didn't have last year. (One of those things is a life.) So I started to freak out when -- surprise! -- NaNo was realistically difficult. I thought something was wrong with me when I didn't have the same desire to spend all day and all night typing away madly. I was a failure when I hated my story at times. I was screwing up my entire writing career and losing horribly when it was an effort to meet the average word count or when, heaven forbid, I missed a day. I pushed myself. It was stressful. It was kinda scary, and a little miserable for a few days in the middle of it.


After those few days, however, I started to realize a thing: I wasn't going to do more than 50k in November. And that was okay. It was okay if I didn't get 50k in November. My success during NaNoWriMo wasn't determined by my word count, or whether or not I wrote more than the average NaNo-er. (Confession: I have a bit of a struggle with wanting to be better than other writers sometimes.) 

On the 25th, I hit 50k. Somehow. I summed up the rest of the story in the last few thousand words because I didn't feel like writing more of it after this month, which is okay because it's a first draft and I like to allow those to absolutely suck anyway. By that time I felt...better about it. Happy with what I did. After all, I learned some cool stuff this month, and did some things I've never done before, and that was fun. Some of that stuff included: 

I went to an official NaNo Write-In. And it was awesome. I had coffee and talked with other writers and laughed about shooting characters and discussed names and did word sprints and got to satisfying my writer side and my extrovert side all at the same time, which was pretty neat. Writing with people is basically my favorite thing.

I wrote something set in the modern world. I've never done that before, except in a short story or two. I like to keep myself in alternate histories, or the cold heart of space, or basically anything sci-fi and not having to do with reality. The bright side to writing something set in the modern world? I got to use all my pop culture references.

I spent a lot of time laughing at myself. 
I wrote something just for fun. The other novels I've worked on this year have all been of the deep, angsty variety, and as much as I love them, they got very emotional/personal/heavy and I was in need of a break. Writing something just for fun was the best.

I flailed with other writers. I had the best fun sharing snippets on Twitter and flailing over other writers' snippets and generally sharing what I was working on with people who seemed to genuinely appreciate it. I don't do that a lot with first drafts.


Long story short: this NaNo was a rough one, but I had fun anyway. Now excuse me while I wait for next November, so I can do it all again.

What did NaNo (or writing in general) teach you this month? 

25 comments

  1. Urgh, I know what you're talking about with the high goals. I'm a very competitive person, so one of my biggest struggles this year was being okay with other people being "better" than me. I was one of the last people to hit 50k that I know-- I didn't make it until yesterday. And, while I'm definitely happy and excited for all my friends who finished early or got really crazy insane word counts, it's hard for me not to feel like I must be a failure because I didn't do as well, when in reality-- NaNo is hard, and nobody needs to be ashamed of not meeting their own expectations.

    On another note, CONGRATULATIONS for finishing! And your snippets are awesome (and I neeeeed mooorrreee)!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sighhhhh the competitive streak is real. It's a hard thing and I got really frustrated with myself/beat myself up for no reason, just because I felt like maybe I wasn't good enough or the best or whatever my brain likes to tell me. But we did it! :D

      Delete
  2. I wish I could write. I can't write. I don't write.
    Congratulations on finishing NaNo! Yo're awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This was my first year participating in NaNoWriMo but it was one of the best things ever. It was incredibly fun and challenging. I mean, trying to keep going when you're in one of those 'I hate my novel' phases? Not easy. Good job pulling through that.

    (Also, you are not the only person who has that struggle with wanting to be better than other writers occasionally. It happens. .-.)

    I loved reading all of your snippets. They were the best. And I hope to read this novel at some point because it really does sound good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yesss I'm glad you had a wild and exhausting amount of fun, because NaNo is just the best writing thing ever.

      Delete
  4. I need to do Nano next year, I need the push.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yay congrats on winning NaNo! I won for my third year in a row as well. you and I seem to be a lot alike in how we write. (wanting to be better than everyone, setting high goals, expecting it to be easier even though we have lives now, etc.)
    I was hoping NaNo would teach me some profound lesson about my life because it always seems to do that. but honestly, Im not sure that it did. Idk. Im still trying to sort is all out.
    but yay for Nanowrimo! I still need to go to a real write in some day.
    congrats once again!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Writing something just for fun is always the best! I don't think I've ever written a rough draft that wasn't tough and terrible in some way, but they've all been worth it. So glad that your NaNo was successful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "but they've all been worth it" is the truest thing ever. Sometimes I get frustrated over the level of suckiness that I achieve in first drafts, but I think allowing myself to suck like that is an important part of the process. And really, I have more fun with the story that way, before I have to try to beat it into shape.

      Delete
  7. Hah, I had totally mixed feelings about NaNo too. My one regret was that I DIDN'T got to a write in - my local community is really active, but all of their meetings were scheduled on Saturdays, and I did A LOT of travelling in November for some reason, so I couldn't go. Shame... maybe I'd have enjoyed the experience more if I'd written with other people?
    Beth x
    www.thequietpeople.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Writing with people certainly isn't for everyone and it comes with lots of distractions, but I enjoyed it immensely. xD

      Delete
  8. Hi, Aimee! Congratulations on winning Nanowrimo! I found your blog a couple months ago (I think though Gemma Fitz), but I finally figured out how to follow today (I am used to wordpress, so it took me a while :P). I also decided to nominate you for a tag, so I hope you don't mind. Of course, you don't have to do it, but here is a link if you are interested: https://writefortheking.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/the-two-tags-that-i-promised/.
    By the way, I love your blog's title. I am a big Les Mis fan myself.
    God bless,
    Gabrielle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awww thank you! I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog. *fist bump*

      Delete
  9. I'm glad that NaNo turned out well for you despite the difficulties! I really need to go to a write in one year ... Maybe I'll go to a Camp NaNo one if they have those. One thing I learned is it's so much easier to do NaNo with a buddy. Last year I struggled but this year it was so much funner.

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Write-ins are AMAZING. That is all. :P

      Delete
  10. Congratulations on making it to 50K even with setbacks and lack of motivation and all that! :) I totally understand your desire, sometimes, to be better than other writers. It's always, on some level, bothered me that I can't write more than any other writer ever.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Pretty soon after I met you, I decided that writing expertise goes from a scale of novice to Aimee. So whenever you get stuck feeling like you're somehow not good enough because you met instead of exceeded one of your goals, just remember that I think you're incredible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *blushes* That's not particularly true, but thank you :D

      Delete
  12. Congratulations on doing Nano! That's very impressive. I've never written a novel, and NaNo would just be a bad idea (this month I had school, music exams, a 3-day field trip and a lot of other busy things.) But I'd love to see snippets, and well done. It's nice to know there are other extrovert bloggers :)

    ReplyDelete

hey. hey. talk to me. i'm a fan of comments and flailing with you. go for it.