Writing

NaNoWriMo: What It’s Taught Me

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. The month-long event starts on November 1st and ends on November 30th. The main idea is to write a novel or 50,000 words in a month. There’s also a Camp NaNoWriMo, which I have not participated in, and a NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, which my son participates in alongside my NaNoWriMo.

Last year, I debated on whether to do NaNoWriMo for the first time. The idea of trying to write 50,000 words in a month scared me. I didn’t know if I could do it. Heck, I pretty much thought I couldn’t do it. On the fourth day, I finally decided to give it a try. I talked it over with my son, who loves to write, and he wanted to give the Young Writers Program a shot.

We were both a little nervous, but we decided to think of it as a challenge. We realized whatever we got done would be a success. My son chose to try for 30,000 words and had his ideas almost immediately. I, on the other hand, struggled to think of a story. I started NaNoWriMo 2015 frustrated and scared. I had no idea what to write, and I was starting late.

I struggled in that first week. Then one day, I sat down to write, and I had a great writing day. I pulled in a large word count, and my brain started doing the calculations. I knew then I could do it. Even if every day wasn’t as good I could do it. Mathematically, I could still do it. Such a thought can really motivate you, and motivate me it did.

After that day, I tried harder. I wanted it even more. My daily word count became higher and more consistent. I found tricks to help me write and stay focused. At the time, I would play Murder She Wrote in the background. If I got stuck, I’d gaze off at the screen and get lost in the antics of an author trying to solve a crime. Soon, an idea would pop up, and I’d be off and writing again.

We may have started NaNoWriMo late, but we finished early. We were on top of the world. My novel wasn’t complete, but over the next couple of months, I finished it and began edits. I feel more confident now. I don’t get the voice telling me, “You can’t write a book.” I did write a book. I know I can now. Can you imagine how much NaNoWriMo boosted my son’s confidence?

This year, I didn’t have the same worries. I know I can do it, and I’m determined to do it. This year my worries are solely for my story.

What It’s Taught Me

*Read – It’s true. You need fuel to write and reading is the fuel. If I haven’t been reading, I struggle to write, but if I’ve been devouring books, the words spill from my fingertips.

*Find Your Focus – Last year, it was Murder She Wrote. This year, I’ve been using classical music and the focus playlists on Spotify. I prefer the music to have no lyrics, or I get lost in the story of the song.

*Writing Conditions – Do I need distractions or a distraction-free environment? Hot or cold? How often do I need to stretch? The list goes on and on. When you’re trying to reach a goal, you have to be aware of what you need to complete the goal, and then make that happen.

*Find the Time to Write – Before NaNoWriMo, I struggled to find a block of time to get writing done. Now I make a block of time to write. This is probably the number one thing I needed to learn. Whether it’s got to be broken up across the day, or one solid block of time, find your time to write.

*It’s okay to allow myself to take the time to accomplish my goals. As a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother, I sometimes forget about me. I focus heavily on my family. NaNoWriMo taught me I deserve to pursue my goals too.

*Any Month Can Be NaNoWriMo – Once you do 50,000 words (or whatever your goal is) in a month, you realize this could happen any month. I could ease up a month or two and do this again. I don’t need an event to do this. I could set a smaller goal and even write 50,000 words every two months. It’s up to me.

Last year, I didn’t know how I’d feel about NaNoWriMo. This year I donated to an event that got my son and me writing. When I think of all the kids out there writing just like my son, I can’t help but wish NaNoWriMo had existed when I was a child. This year, I feel even more dedicated. I want to keep this steam up all year round. I’ve been working on a schedule, and I think I’ll be making my own writing months in the future. Thank you, NaNoWriMo for teaching me to be confident, giving me a supportive environment to grow in, and giving me the push I needed to finish my first novel. The second is on its way!

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