NaNoWriMo The Final Words

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So I hit my target of 50,000 words today and became a NaNoWriMo Winner. It feels strange when you’ve been focussed on something for so long when it is suddenly removed. Even if you really wanted to get it done, you still feel at a loss when it’s over. I haven’t finished my story mind. At the start much of my panic revolved around whether my idea could stretch to 50,000, but now that I’m there those worries seem silly and I still have a fair bit to go, plus I want to edit and improve it. So getting to this point isn’t actually the end, but just one achievement on my journey that I can enjoy.

I read a blog at the start of the year from a person who had managed to complete NaNoWriMo and had found it to be an amazing experience that they would recommend for others to try. That’s when I decided that I wanted to have a go myself. The truth is when I got there, I quickly found that writing regularly every day could actually be quite challenging and a bit of a toil at times. 50,000 words in a month is however, a reasonable goal that you can reach with just 1,666 words per day. The problem at the beginning was that I’ve always been a slow writer, reading and editing as I go along. I did a Start Writing Fiction course earlier in the year that suggested learning to write quickly and editing later, something that I just could not seem to grasp because it was habitual. Well If I’ve gained one thing from this month, I’ve definitely gotten better at just that. I even managed to write more words towards the end, allowing me to hit the target a few days earlier. Of course you can’t expect to have a brilliant novel by the end of it, but it’s good practice and leaves you with a lot of content to work with.

At first I found the words to be a bit too much of a distraction. I couldn’t help but keep checking them constantly, feeling pressured to get enough done each day as if that mattered more than anything else. On the other hand, having a solid, recordable goal gives you that push to maintain focus on it. There were times, usually during the weekends, when I would have otherwise left it but instead sat down to write because I wanted to meet my goal. Having such feedback and being able to observe your progress is a good way to keep motivated and moving forward. As I’ve been saying all along, I’m known for being stubborn – earning me the nickname Miss Stubborn – , but it’s not always a negative thing and has proved quite useful to me over the years as a driving force. Once I decide to fully commit to something I know I’ll put the time in. I just have to learn to trust myself to see it through.

I also found that it helped me to come up with more ideas. I sometimes suffer from a bit of creative anxiety where I plan and plan but never get started, and yet I find that most of my ideas come while I’m working rather than sitting around. I mentioned at the start of the year that I wanted to have a go at writing my own story, and I probably never would have if not for the push NaNoWriMo has given me. Sometimes it’s also good to be able to play with your ideas without worrying too much about quality. This is just a first draft after all.

Even though it was an interesting challenge, I have to admit I’m glad to have reached the finishing line. I don’t regret giving it a go, but I don’t think I’d do it again either. I’m just really keen to start re-working my story now and being able to take my time with it. I now also feel ready to start enjoying the run down to Christmas. Looking back, this month has gone fairly quickly. It seems like only yesturday that I was putting my first words down and wondering what I’d signed myself up for.

My NaNoWriMo Tips:

  • I noticed a lot of people on the forums claiming to be nervous about participating in NaNoWriMo or panicking when they missed a day. It’s better to try and stay relaxed otherwise you risk freezing your mind up. Nobody ever has to see what you’re writing and it’s not a big deal if you never make it. NaNoWriMo is whatever you want it to be. You’ve chosen to have a go for your own benefit and you also have your own reasons and goals.
  • If you do miss a day or two, it doesn’t mean you can’t still succeed at NaNoWriMo. I missed the first couple of days because it coincided with the Whitby Goth Festival so I wrote a little extra each day to catch up.
  • Don’t stress over the words too much, instead develop a habit of sitting down to work on it each day for so long, and the words will just come as a result of that.
  • I didn’t plan my story enough at the start. You should ideally start thinking about it a few months before. I found that I was able to write more easily when I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. On the other hand it’s good to leave yourself open to new ideas.
  • Don’t try to make it perfect first time, it’ll only add to the panic and slow you down. Just remember that it’s a first draft and expect to be working on it for a good while after NaNoWriMo. I intend to do just that myself.
  • Keep lots of backups. I didn’t just back up my work at the end of each day or session, sometimes I did so after writing so much. My laptop which had never faltered before actually blue screened on me, so it’s best to be careful.
  • It’s good to get family and friends to support and encourage you along the way – the same goes for any project you decide to tackle. There was this one day where I just wanted to give up because I was feeling tired and I’d also strained my arm, making it difficult to position myself comfortably around the laptop. My boyfriend stepped in and gave me the encouragement I needed to keep going. It’s normal to have doubts, it happens to us all.

Related Posts:

Congratulations To All 2014 NaNoWriMo Winners!

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About wallcat

I have a strong passion for computing. In particular programming for which I am able to use a variety of languages including C++, Visual C#, Blitz Basic, Actionscript 2.0, Python and Lua. I also enjoy web-design and have some knowledge of HTML/CSS, PHP/SQL and Javascript. As well as programming I have a strong background in art and enjoy drawing in my spare time. When I’m not sat at my computer I like to keep fit by going to the gym or using my exercise ball.

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