Monday, November 9, 2015

What I Learned from NaNoWriMo (even though it doesn’t work for me)

When I started the manuscript that would be the first one I would ever complete, NaNoWriMo was just around the corner. It seemed like a great opportunity to keep the momentum going on this book I was already excited about. What I didn’t realize until I dove head first in, was that Nano isn’t for everyone. Despite that I did learn some valuable lessons.

You’re not alone
Just because you didn’t finish NaNo, or even if you didn’t start, it doesn’t mean you’re the only person in existence that didn’t. I know it’s hard to be in the writing community in November when everyone is shouting about their word counts, but there are many people who are quiet about the fact that they aren’t making their daily goal or aren’t even participating. It may feel lonely, but you aren’t the only one. I’ll shout from the rooftops right now, I’m not NaNoing!!! So you can join my saying no to NaNo club if you want.

Writing every day doesn’t work for everyone
This was something I learned fairly quickly during NaNo. I simply didn’t have the emotional energy required, or the brain power to sit down and write every single day especially with a full time day job. Now this probably sounds like excuses but in all honesty I needed time to plot, and let ideas stew in my subconscious before things gelled together and I could write more. And not writing everyday doesn’t mean you are a failure, it just means it’s not the right method for you. That said, I did learn the importance of a schedule. When I had time to write scheduled out, I was a lot more effective and got things done.

The importance of momentum
The more frequently you write the more your head is in the game. This is why NaNo can be so effective because your brain is in your story every day. While I determined that writing every day was too much for me, between the fatigue and needing down time, I did notice an increase in ideas and excitement to continue my story even on the days I wasn't writing. So once you find that momentum from whatever schedule works for you, keep it going.

Capitalize on the energy
The energy during NaNo is electric (boogey-woogie-woogie *sorry couldn’t resist*). Everyone is excited about their stories, and running word sprints. Even if you aren’t participating in NaNo, jump in on some word sprints or let the excitement grab you and take you down the path. You may not be writing 50k in a month, but you can still work on your manuscript.

Not reaching 50k in a month doesn’t make you a failure
Did you put words on the page? More than you started with? If the answer is yes and yes, then congrats you won. You added words to the page and that is the most important part of drafting. And even if you didn’t get 50K or finish your book, you did make progress. And now you have momentum and time to finish it. So keep going.

Even if NaNoWrimo doesn’t work for you, I hope you are at least able to find some value from it. Keep moving forward, persevere and finish! You can do it!


Lily Cate said...

I did NaNo once, a few years ago. It was fun, and I'm glad I participated. I did my 50k, but it wasn't a complete story, and nearly all of what I wrote for that got scrapped in revisions. It's definitely a good way to get into the habit of writing regularly, though I can't really "write every day" either. It becomes counter productive if I'm just doing it for the sake of doing it.
This year I have a manuscript to revise, so no NaNoing for me. I might start something new next month :)

Jamie Krakover said...

yeah you definitely have to find what works for you.

Mirka Breen said...

when it comes to motivation and output, not to mention inspiration-- I do fine without the national /daysweeks/months where everyone does it, so I never considered going that-a-way. Amen to all you said.

Jamie Krakover said...

Thanks for sharing. I love hearing everyone's processes and what works for them. Each person always has a different method. I'm glad you found what works for you.