What NaNoWriMo taught me

My NaNo novel ended with 28,551 words(I think. Somewhere around there). No, I did not get to 50k, but I finished my novel and I believe that’s what counts. I also believe that the majority of NaNoers lose sight of the real focus in NaNo.

I shall maketh an list of my observations and discoveries.

1) The huge thing about NaNo is “WRITE A BAZILLION WORDS IN AN INADEQUATE AMOUNT OF DAYS.” or at least that’s what it feels like. And it’s fun to get to the end and beat those bazillion words over the head with your inadequate amount of days and laugh and sit on top like the victor that you are.

But.

We’re writers. Our goal is to write stories; to open a vein and bleed our hearts onto paper and then hope that at least one other human being sort of half likes it a little bit(if you’re brave enough to show it to another human). The words we write come from the depths of our soul. I know that sounds dramatic but it’s true.

And it doesn’t matter how many words are in our stories as long as the story is told. The goal is not to write X amount of words, it’s to complete a story a throw it out into the world with the hope that at least one other soul will read it and it will speak to them and they can relate to your soul and even if you never meet that person, you can know that your life, your story, touched someone else’s life and changed their story and they are a better person for it.

So it doesn’t matter how many words it takes to touch that other person’s soul. And I think we lose sight of that goal with NaNoWriMo.

Side note: I am not slamming NaNo at all. I loved doing it, but I think this is a semi-serious issue here.

I do understand that some authors(I say authors because you writers who hide in your closet and pound on the keys of your laptop at midnight and are afraid to tell even your family that you are writing a story, YOU are an author too. [my nano is actually about a girl who is just like that.]) I do understand that some authors write well under pressure. A deadline, a word goal, etc. spur them on. It’s a challenge and they’re more likely to get to the end of their book and finish it than if they didn’t have the pressure, and the quality of their writing is even better under these circumstances.

But. Not everyone writes better under pressure. Even my dear friend Mirriam Neal who writes beautiful masterpieces and it a wonderful weaver of words… even her NaNos lack the quality her work usually has in lieu of the quantity.

Yes, this all boils down to a quality over quantity issue.

You are a writer. Your novel counts. The word count does not count. The goal should be to write the best manuscript you possibly can, regardless of the word count.

So next year, remember that even if you are aiming for the 50k, do not be afraid to put aside the word count to put your novel first. Put your priorities in order. Novel first, then word count. If you make it to the 50k then great, you are awesome! Not everyone can do that. But if your novel finishes at 28k like mine did, and it’s supposed to end there, and it’s done at 28k, don’t freak out. Be happy and content that you wrote your novel and your novel is what it’s supposed to be.

Reaching 50k and hating every single one of those words does not help you grow as a writer as much as pouring your heart into your novel and making it what it needs to be. THAT will help you grow and mature and learn more than any amount of words could.

That point is sort of a post on it’s own but remember this is a list and that was only the first point XD

2) Secondly I learned that it is easy to write 3,000 words in one day. It doesn’t take eight hours. If I’m on a roll, I can do 1k in an hour, sometimes more. That’s only three hours! You still have plenty of time to eat and sleep. Even if you do 2k a day, that’s 14k a week. Even if you take a day off that’s still 12,000 words per week. (I have never written over 10k a week to my knowledge. So.) I’m seriously preaching to myself right now but this is something we can all learn. It’s called discipline. It’s called self control. If you set yourself to grindstone, make yourself do what you need to do before what you want to do, you can reach whatever goal you have in mind. Yes, writing is hard work sometimes. ANYTHING is hard work sometimes. But you want to write that novel, right? You dream every day of getting published, right? Here’s a key that I have taken into my heart and owned for the last year and half: If you don’t chase your dreams, no one will. Whatever you want, whatever your dream is, it’s up to YOU to achieve that and make it reality. And that starts by sitting down in your chair and writing your book. It’s work, yes, but once you get into it… you realize it’s actually not that hard at all. It does take discipline and self-control but it’s NOT overwhelmingly hard or impossible and it is completely worth it. I think I’m running myself in circles but what I’m trying to say is the hard work is easy. Yes, it’s hard, but once you stop thinking about it and actually do it, it’s not as hard as you thought.

That sort of encompassed like three points instead of one. Anyway. You get the idea I’m trying to impart to you.

3) Thirdly NaNo taught me that it isn’t very hard at all to finish a novel. Again, it’s hard work but it’s not that hard at all. Yes, it takes time and planning and plotting and energy and frustration, but it’s not as hard as it seems. The biggest enemy of writing, I think, is when we’re not writing and know we should be writing. We think, “Oh man, I need to hit my word par today. And I didn’t reach it yesterday so instead of 1667 words I need to write 2100 words. Wow, over two thousand words. That will take so long. I can’t do this. NaNo is too hard.” and so we put it off and then the next day we have over 3k to write. Whereas if we just sit down and start pounding out the words, we’ll get into the grove, get the juices flowing, and after 500 words we’re like, “OH MAN I love writing! How could I ever think this is so hard? It’s not! Look I already wrote this much and it’s been… twenty minutes! I can catch up to my word count in an hour and half!” and you do it.

Don’t look at me like that. You know you’ve been there and I know I have too. When we’re not in front of the screen, watching our words paint the pictures in our minds, we forget how much it means to us. The solution? Write more. Stay in front of the screen. Keep writing. Don’t give yourself the time to think about how hard is it because your mind will feed you lies and make you lazy.

(after all that I have to say, do remember to keep active and stay healthy. Don’t sit for TOO long. Get up, walk around, stretch your legs[going to the fridge only sorta counts] but don’t stay away too long either. That’s another post for another day though.)

So my list got all scatterbrained and leaked over into other points and didn’t stay very organized but I hope we both learned some things here. NaNo is great and I am very glad that I participated. It did teach me some very invaluable things about writing. It’s an experience every writer should have at least once, but please remember my first point.

It’s your novel, not the word count, that counts.

(this post is over 1400 words and it took me less than an hour to write it, I think, not counting editing. Now get off my blog and go write 1400 of your own words. [after you comment and tell me how your nano went XD])

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