The library at the South African Parliament buildings in Cape Town

What I Learnt By Participating In NaNoWriMo

Writing 1 667 words a day for 30 days seems easy right? I could do this!

Especially because when I get going I can easily do a 850 word blog post without realising it. Then I spend more time trimming and editing to 500 words or less, because, I am told, people get bored with long posts.

Well, truth be told, unless the writing is really good and punchy with a few dramatic techniques, I also will not go through a long post.

So, 1 667 is just the equivalent of two posts a day. So I signed up for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I case you are wondering what this NaNoWriMo thing is, it is the National Novel Writing Month.

I knew just what I wanted to write – a Romance novel! I am a girl…how difficult could that be right?

The month started off well. I kept a running word log on a spreadsheet. All I had to do was write a minimum of 1667 words per day. If I wrote more, bonus! If I wrote less then I would know how many I had to catch up on.

But things are not always as neat or as linear as that.

Week 1 went well. The first weekend went well too. I dutifully updated the spreadsheet and the word count on the NaNoWriMo site. I read very interesting posts by Chuck Wendig.

After the first Word Camp (which I did not attend), I read that someone had written 50 000 words in one day! Yikes! That was the whole month’s requirement! “She must write for a living,” I thought.

After writing a few scenes and one in the middle I skipped a few days hoping to catch up on the following weekend. That weekend came and went and no writing happened. Not even any blogging if truth be told.

I went on holiday to Namibia and the writing stopped altogether.

If you are wondering that I could not have learnt anything, given that the novel writing experiment turned out to be a dismal failure…well there are a few things I know now that I did not know for sure on the 31st October.

Here is a nice easy to read list (I am told that blog readers like lists because they are quick to read):

  1. I learnt to be realistic about the time I have available to write. After a 9 hour work day, plus a few hours eating dinner and spending quality time with my husband, I really only had an hour or so to sit down and write.
  2. I learnt that is important to just write without counting words because that makes NaNoWriMo just a numbers game.
  3. I learnt that if at the end of the 30 days there is no 50 000 words or a completed novel it is not the end of the world. There is at the very least, a partially completed manuscript.
  4. I learnt that there is always next year’s NaNoWriMo to write a  complete novel.
  5. I learnt that to fly by the set of my pants without planning out at least a plot outline leads to nights staring at a blank screen.
  6. I learnt that I need lots of writing practice.

Now lets see if I apply these learnings to next year’s NaNoWriMo.

5 thoughts on “What I Learnt By Participating In NaNoWriMo”

  1. Thank you for sharing. I always wonder about this NaNoWriMo thing. On one hand, it seems like a big challenge (for me) and challenge is fun in its own way, but on the other hand I wonder if I want to stress myself out. I like your list. I appreciate it. Helen

    1. I will try it again until I manage to finish the 50 000 words; it’s a nice incentive. I think it works best to take the whole month off – LOL!
      I appreciate you leaving me a comment Helen 🙂

  2. Good for you at least making a go of it! Writing a novel or novelette not my cup of tea. I did, however, write a lengthy paper at a workshop years ago about my experience with a son born with cancer. It was a wonderful experience.

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