NaNoWriMo: an overview

Hello dear reader.

I’ve missed you, which means it’s about time I get back to this whole blogging thing. You’ll be happy to know that in the last two years, I have not been idle. I mean, of course I’ve been idle occasionally. But I have been writing.

Most recently, I had the very exciting, overwhelming, mind-boggling experience of participating in National Novel Writing Month.

From the website:

“National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel. Here’s a little more about how it all works.

I’m not certain how I managed to be unaware of NaNoWriMo for the last few years (it began in 1999 with 21 participants and in 2013 I was one of 365,519 who made the attempt), but in the last week of October it came across my path and I embraced it.

I decided to take part for a few reasons.

  1. I’ve had a story outlined for almost two years now, waiting for the time when I would commit it to (digital)paper
  2. I have a love/hate/romantic/skeptic relationship with fate, and the timing of learning about NaNoWriMo a week before it began seemed… fortuitous
  3. NaNoWriMo is specifically designed to help me overcome my greatest weaknesses in writing. Namely, over-editing, needing everything to be perfect the first time it’s written, stalling on a story early. It was as perfect of a writing exercise as I could imagine
  4. The over-achiever inside liked the idea of an ambitious but not impossible project

So I refined my outline, did some preliminary research, wrote and signed a contract with myself (e.g. Point #4. For every 30 minutes of writing, I will do 10 minutes of exercise), elicited the support of the stalwart JT, got acquainted with the forums, and off I went.

The result? I won. I did it. I started writing on November 1 at 6 a.m. – blurry-eyed, pyjama clad, grumpy but motivated – and stopped writing on November 29 around 5:30 p.m. with a total of 50,250 words.

I’ll go into more detail later, but the main point is this: My story isn’t great. Maybe a tenth of it will survive editing, and much more still needs to be written. But I wrote 50,000 words… in a MONTH, and that feels incredible. I worked through unlikeable characters, massive plot holes, inconsistent timelines, and a number of other issues by just continuing to pound the keyboard. Somehow, I also managed to have a few moments of beautiful writing, and found a community of crazy, creative word nerds just like me.

Yours,

S.E. Lund

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