Lessons from NaNoWriMo

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com Alt text: A hardback book open on a wooden table, the central pages are vertical, in front of a textured white wall.

I rather ambitiously decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve never done it before. It’s now the end of November and I am nowhere near the 50,000 word target. I guess I’m disappointed, but I definitely have learned a few things. Here goes:

  1. I cannot take on another book to write while I am in the process of finishing two books on birds and parenting, working as a full-time writer (for goodness’ sake), being a parent, and struggling with health issues – that’s the ADHD talking.
  2. I can, however, write a decent amount in a month regardless of these challenges. I wrote over 16,000 words of a new novel aimed at kids/young adults, I know exactly where it’s going to go, and have the whole thing plotted out. That’s definitely a win.
  3. I love the novelty of new writing apps – again, that’s an ADHD thing. I’m currently using a free trial of First Draft Pro and loving it. I’m going to have another go with Scrivener soon, too.
  4. Making buddies and joining groups is only useful if you actually interact with the people in them. Or, you know, even look at the posts or anything.
  5. I’m better at dialogue than I thought.
  6. Fiction is hard – unlike reality, it has to make sense. (Paraphrasing Tom Clancy there!)
  7. But it’s fun.
  8. Plan for problems – a sudden virus knocked the whole household out, I had two kids at home alternating weeks, then got sick myself. Over half the month basically unable to write.
  9. A little every day is more achievable for me than great, long stints. This is the exact opposite of how I write non-fiction, which is in a hyper-focused, teeth-gritted, grim faced, time-exempt bubble of don’t talk to me.
  10. I will complete this novel. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll submit it for traditional publishing or self publish, but it will exist in a complete format at some point!

That’s a win as far as I’m concerned. Okay, not technically a NaNoWriMo win, but I’m taking it!

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