My NaNoWriMo Experience

The Final Tally

With 16 short chapters, 17,316 words, and 13 days of writing NaNoWriMo is officially over.  This does not mean I‘m finished with my novel.  It means the monthly challenge is over and I am relieved.

Thoughts about the challenge.

I enjoyed taking part in the challenge.  This was my first year, and it was challenging.  More so than I imagined.  Before starting this challenge I was writing regularly.  Doing what I termed daily writing practice. Every week day, most days I would sit and write about whatever popped into my head.  Writing for 20-30 minutes a day and averaging around 600-1000 words daily.

I knew I would need to step up that number to reach the NaNoWriMo challenge.  At the end of October I figured up I would need 1667 words daily to reach the target of 50,000 words.  In my mind this seemed easy as I was averaging 800 words daily in only 30 minutes a day.  This goal translated to 1 hour daily. However, I knew writing for one hour every day would prove difficult.

I did not expect the level of difficulty to write daily toward a novel.  Free writing for 30 minutes a day about whatever comes to mind is not only easier but faster.   Coming up with scenes, characters, dialogues, and direction of a novel takes more time.  Some days I would write for 45 minutes and only have 800 words. With free writing that translates to 1200-1500 words.  For NaNoWriMo that difference in the number of words is huge.

I faced two big challenges with meeting my word count. 

Editing as I Write

During the month of November the goal is to get words down on paper. No editing or over-thinking.  There is no time for that. I corrected words, thought about word choice, etc. This slowed me down considerably.  I reminded myself to get words down and not to worry over word choice. However, it’s a hard habit to break.

Keeping an Interest in My Novel

Some days I would wake up excited about what my characters would do next.  I couldn’t wait to write.  Other days I was at a loss for the direction of my novel.  It was frustrating. Those were the days I skipped writing.

I started out strong and faltered never recovering from that falter. 

Starting at midnight on November 1,  I cranked out 1600 words.  I was proud and energized. The progress felt great.  I could do this.  Then I didn’t write for 3 days straight. This was due to bad decisions, and it killed my momentum.

The following week was my best, writing for 6 days straight.  Then I fell off the horse, lost the drive only writing sporadically.  Took the week of Thanksgiving off. Then kicked myself in the pants the last week setting a new target goal of 20,000 words.  I ended up writing three out of the six days with my ending total at 17,316 words.

Do I feel like a failure?

Yes and no. I did not stick to a daily writing plan yet I now have 17,316 more words than I did at the beginning of November.  It’s a start.

Why did I struggle?

My novel idea. I literally came up with an idea the day before the start.  With a general idea but unsure if it would work. I still wonder if it will work.  At one point I was in love with the idea and its characters, then the next I was ready to scrap it all together.

Trying to figure out how I could tie parts of the novel together.  I still wonder.

In the end, I’m glad I took on the challenge.

It taught me a few lessons. 

Writing a novel is hard.  Kudos to all the authors out there that crank out novels.  I bow to you.

Establishing a writing habit that works for me is key.  Writing every day is not reasonable for me. However, smaller chunks at a time work well.

Learning to write and not edit is also key.

Final Thoughts

I will take these lessons and apply them to my writing as I continue my writing journey into the next year.  In addition, I plan to continue working on my novel in January.

Will I tackle the challenge again?

I think so. After trying it for the first time I‘m better equipped to handle the challenge in 2019.

Here’s to wherever my novel may lead and to my writing journey in 2019.

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