What is NaNoWriMo?
National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) is an annual event that challenges writers of all backgrounds to write 50,000 words (the length of a typical novel) in November. The challenge encourages writers to get past their fear of blank pages so they can tell the stories that they have living inside of them.
Why did I do NaNoWriMo this year?
I have taken a lot of time this year in the wake of a very busy end to my undergraduate career to reconnect to the things I enjoy, one of them being creative writing. NaNoWriMo is a creative exercise that challenges writers to satisfy the word count of a full novel (which is 50,000 words) in a single month.
How did it go?
It was not easy. The first week was the best. I felt like I was firing on all cylinders. I was able to hit my word count of 1667 pretty consistently. By the time I got to Week 3, I had missed a few days. There were also several days when I did not even break 500 words. To compensate, I would outline new content for the book, or sprint until I had surpassed 2,000 words whenever I could. This helped me stay afloat. On the last day, I wrote close to 4,000 words to close the gap.
I also had to go through some tough challenges this month that also impacted my ability to write for several days. Despite this, I completed the challenge with 50,146 words. Considering that my initial personal goal was 25,000 words, I am proud of myself for seeing the challenge through to the end.
What did I learn?
I was able to find some weaknesses in my writing style that I can improve on. I also learned that it is good to get something down on paper because you can then take time to refine it later on as your ideas solidify into concrete shapes. My second or third draft tends to resemble what I initially envisioned far better than my first draft. Once the first draft is out of the way, then the writing process improves.
This year’s NaNoWriMo challenge would have been a lot better had I taken the time to prepare during October. Preparation is so important. Since I have not finished a manuscript before I think that outlining my novel is a step I did not devote enough time to this year. If I participate next year, I will strive to come into NaNoWriMo 2023 with additional materials prepared.
Would I do it again?
Absolutely. There is nothing like getting the ideas in your head out on paper. It is a relief in many ways because you can capture and realize intangible thoughts on paper. You can print out the words, mark them up, study them, analyze them, read them, and share them with others. Sharing them with others has to be the best benefit that comes from drafting your work. It grants you the freedom to get feedback on your work which can set you up for better drafts.
Being surrounded by a community of like-minded writers is incredibly refreshing. I have heard it said that the best part about NaNoWriMo is the community and I have to agree. I enjoyed engaging with other writers and watching their word counts go up. Celebrating their wins motivated me to finish my work. My favorite part would be watching others report their before and after numbers as they completed writing sprints. This is something I adopted in my own writing time. I challenged myself to see how long it would take me to write 1,000 words. The feeling of accomplishment from winning the challenge paired with the community experience made this worthwhile.
This challenge put me out of my comfort zone. It also allowed me to explore facets of myself that I had shelved for several weeks. I love reading and creative writing, but I often failed to make time to engage in these hobbies again. NaNoWriMo definitely helped me re-engage with these hobbies. I rekindled my love for literature and I am proud of myself for completing this challenge and trying something new.