For the past 30 days I have been working toward a life-long dream of writing a novel. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has given me the motivation and deadline I needed to finally sit down and do it. This wonderful organization gathers writers from around the world who all commit two writing 50,000 words in just 30 days. It may seem undoable but the fantastic community of writers that has been established is there for you every step of the way.
I have always loved to write and have aspired to writing a novel from a very young age. At 18 I left for college knowing exactly what I wanted to major in and looked forward to every English and creative writing class I took. I even found a job writing after graduation which, let’s be honest, I doubted I would be able to do. After having my twins I began working from home as a freelance writer and I have loved that it has given me the opportunity to write every day while staying home to be with my children.
I graduated from Florida State 11 years ago now (Go Noles!) but had yet to complete my dream of writing a novel. Maybe it was procrastination, maybe it was fear, maybe it was how crazy busy my life got, but prior to November I was doing little to no fictional writing and I missed it. Had it not been for NaNoWriMo, I may have never sat down and forced myself to write, fear or no fear.
My Personal Experience
There were some days when I would sit down to the computer and the words would flow freely, complete scenes practically writing themselves. There were others when just getting 1,000 words on the page was torture. Half way through the month I took a weeklong trip to attend a family wedding. The trip was absolutely wonderful but I returned to Florida 10,000 words behind and terrified that I would not be able to finish.
Perhaps I wouldn’t have, had I not had the unbelievable support of my husband who gave me constant words of encouragement and who picked up the slack with the kids and around the house during my late-night writing sessions. Pizzas arrived with no complaint as I wrote through dinner on many nights, especially that final week. On November 29th, At 11:43 p.m., I verified my novel at 50,015 words. After being nearly 10,000 words behind for half the month I finished a day early and with a huge sigh of relief.
Verifying my 50,000 words did not mean that I was left with a finished novel. In fact, it is far from it. What I have is a rough first draft that I have to add to, edit, tweak, and edit some more. But it is a first draft, and that is more than I have ever had before.
What I Learned Along the Way
For anyone out there considering NaNoWriMo next year, this is for you. It is not easy. The thought of 1,667 words a day may seem easy but once you are getting into your story, you will realize how hard it really is. It takes dedication and the support of your family. This has been my first experience with NaNoWriMo and I definitely learned a couple of things along the way.
- Put your inner critic away and keep writing. No Deleting!
- Have an idea of where the story will take you before November starts.
- When you are stuck, hop on Twitter — @NaNoWordSprings saved the day more than once.
- Write through the writer’s block, even if it sucks.
- Don’t expect to have a finished novel on the 30th.
Will I do NaNoWriMo Again?
Absolutely. I fully plan on making this a recurring part of my November calendar. Next time though, I doubt I will plan a vacation right smack in the middle of it. If you have been thinking about doing it and haven’t, I strongly encourage you to take the leap. It is an experience I have loved.