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My experience with NaNoWrimo 2018

Bad news first: I didn’t win (finish) NaNoWriMo 2018. Good news: I learned a lot from it and I enjoyed participating!

Before I start, a short recap:  “NaNoWrimo is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30.” Here’s what I initially had in mind for NaNoWrimo 2018.

To make it easier and faster to read, I’m gonna talk more about it in bullet points:

  • I started this writing experimenting with the expectation of writing something everyday and hopefully getting to 50k. I did not expect to write a specific novel
  • That being said, before November 1st rolled in, I had an idea in mind, but I wasn’t sure it was novel material, especially length-wise. I researched for it for the whole of October and I had a general structure in mind for the “book”
  • After the competition started, I wrote for said story for exactly one day 🙂 I realized after a couple of hundreds of words that I am not that interested in it and that I wanted to write something else
  • The rest of the month was spent writing different short stories (one still has the potential to be a novel or even a script, and I will continue writing on it)
  • First lesson learned: to write 1,667 words a day is HARD and you need to be consistent and ambitious to do it
  • Most days I really struggled with the words count, and some days I was lucky to overcome it, but those were rare (2, maybe 3 days)
  • I realized my sweet spot is around 600-800 word per day (aka the usual length for  good article); I can write this easily, especially when I find the right flow
  • Oh, the flow…the inspiration. The writing mood. A miracle that is rarely seen, but when it shows itself, wonders happen. This was another hard part of NaNoWriMo: I would open my laptop, get rid of any distractions and try to focus on it. Some days the words would come out like a running river, some day it would feel like a broken sink that slowly drips.
  • I think that was one of things that prevented me from winning it. I was too hard on myself and I didn’t allow myself to just write- I want it to be good or at least to make sense, and when you’re trying to write 50k, that’s not a great habit. And when you are used to speak and write in real life with as few words possible, well, the task is even harder.
  • Besides the flow / inspiration part, I struggled most with the idea that I don’t have anything to share or to write about. I would open a document and realize that I have no need or urgent desire to write about…anything, really. Actually, there was only one idea that stuck in my mind and that I still want to finish writing it, but I honestly don’t know why I haven’t done it so far.
  • One of the parts I most enjoyed this month was the community behind it. Besides Twitter, I really liked watching NaNoWriMo vlogs on YouTube and seeing how others were doing and what were their challenges.
  • I usually read fantasy / sci fi / dystopian novels, especially YA, and up until this point I thought I would write something similar. But guess what? I realized, this month, that I am not good at this and that I enjoy doing contemporary more. That was easier for me to do and I felt I connected to it, so I am going to stick with it.
  • I’m really happy that I got to experiment with different genres, types of characters, of stories, of dialogue (or lack of) and so on. It felt like I let loose and allowed myself to try and write about things that I have been thinking about for years, and honestly, I want to keep doing that.
  • I ended up writing 17,635 words in November and you know what? I’m proud of myself. That’s a lot and I’m really happy I got to write these stories down.

Overall, NaNoWrimo 2018 was a really interesting and cool experiment that I am happy I got to try. I don’t know if I will do it again, just because of the tight timeframe and objectives (50k), but I could follow along just for the fun of it.

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