If word count is the key indicator of success for NaNoWriMo then I’m an unmitigated failure. I ambitiously aimed for 50,000 words despite the fact that there were many things going on in my life during November that kept me from my desk. Long work hours, an interminable commute in which I was too tired to even contemplate reading, let alone writing, and social events all conspired against me to prevent me from reaching my goal. The writing I did manage to squeeze in was very rushed and subpar, but even taking all of this into consideration, I would still say that it was worth it. Next year I plan to participate again, but hopefully with a bit more free time to devote to it.
Here are five things I took from my NaNoWriMo experience:
1. Writing every day is often impossible but if you can put aside even a small amount of time every second or third day it really does add up quickly.
2. Writing with your inner critic/censor turned off becomes much easier the more you do it. Having a word goal each day and striving to reach it, no matter how bad your writing seems, helps to get the creative juices flowing.
3. Creative writing activities and character profiles are not a waste of time. For the first time since I started writing I spent time completing pre-writing activities before NaNoWriMo and I found it so helpful to know about my characters backstories and relationships when I started writing. Hopefully this will translate into more complex and believable characters. I don’t think I would have been able to produce anything near 20,000 words without this work beforehand.
4. Being part of a writing community is important. Even though I didn’t have much time to interact with other participants it was really nice to know that others were out there going through the same things and striving to reach their goals. People were so supportive of each other on social networks and this is one of the things that makes me want to take part again.
5. Writing itself is fun, but good writing is incredibly hard. NaNoWriMo has helped me to recognise that it’s fine for first drafts to be terrible because this is just the first step in a long journey. Or as Ernest Hemingway put it so succinctly: