What National Novel Writing Month Taught Me

Photo thanks to Vintage Tartlette

It was completely surreal to hit 50,062 words last Wednesday. I finished my book while sitting in a comfy Starbucks armchair, just as the store was closing, serenaded by festive holiday music. I just typed my 1320 words, finished up my story, and that was it. It was so…BIZARRE.

I learned a ton from this experience, both about myself and about writing. Below, my insights:

1. Do What Works For You

I was disciplined enough to do my 1600+ words a day (even though some days I hated every second), so that I was always right on schedule. Staying on schedule was remarkably (and disconcertingly) easy. It was odd. If I forced myself to do it, no matter what, I was always hitting the little progress bar, and slowly but surely it crept up to tens of thousands of words. By the time the last two days rolled around, I wasn’t scrambling or stressing. I just wrote my daily quota, again, for the 30th time.

Now I’m not suggesting that my way of completing this crazy month was superior, but it was really the only way I personally could have done it. I guess to a certain extent I need to be meticulous. I knew that if I fell behind, I would never catch up, because with everything else going on I wouldn’t be able to devote hours in a day to binge writing.

I guess you could describe my writing style as organized. I know Gabrielle, when she gets into her story, can write thousands of words in just a few days – she’s overcome with the passion of writing. And while I admire that, love that, wish I was like that…for now I know what works for me is putting one foot in front of the other. I hope that one day I can become consumed by my stories and write like the wind, but for now I’m proud that I even carve out the time to let myself write creatively. Which brings me to my next point…

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Lessons From NaNoWriMo Week One

Well, it’s official. Today marks the 7th day of National Novel Writing Month, and I am pleased to report that I have been diligently sitting down every day and writing my 1,667 words. Currently I have:

  • 20 pages
  • 10, 219 words
Ooh, it makes me giddy just to see those numbers! It’s true that it’s daunting to have over 39K words left to be written, but I plan to just keep on truckin’ and meet my daily quota. If I do that, I’ll be proud of myself. Today I wanted to share some of the lessons NaNo’s been teaching me over the past week. Hopefully even those who aren’t participating/aren’t planning on it will still find something of value here!

1. It feels good to do something every day.

Lately, I’ve been learning this lesson with respect to my “morning pages” on 750words.com. But adding this crazy project of writing a novel to the mix really hits the lesson right on home. There’s something inexplicably satisfying in doing something, consistently, every day. Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project highly recommends doing something every day, saying that it teaches us to find pleasure in our routine.

The things you do every day take on a certain beauty, and provide a kind of invisible architecture to daily life. – Gretchen Rubin

I would also venture to say that doing something every day is a boost to our self-esteem. I know that every time I hit my word quota, my chest practically puffs up with pride. It’s rewarding to see the number creep up, and to have the satisfaction of a job well done.

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