National Novel Writing Month 2015 ended yesterday and I hit my 50,000 word mark in the early evening. The story isn’t done, but the construct is there and I’ve had a blast writing it so far.
This was my second NaNoWriM0. I knew I could do it, having done it before, but it was still an exhausting thrill ride. The story went places I didn’t expect and the (apparent) ending was a surprise. And I’ve learned a lot this year. Below are some insights, fresh from my 50K.
Life may be crazy busy, but there’s still time to write. There are people who do NaNoWriMo and double their goal, shooting for 100,000 words. There are people who have lots of free time to write each day. I am not that person. Most of the folks doing NaNoWriMo aren’t.
My non-writing November was busy, and sometimes my mental and emotional energy were drained. Sometimes I wasn’t sure I could fit in creating a story, too. But writing is time and space you give yourself to create a story. My writing time was just for me, to step away for a bit, regroup, and look inward.
If the words aren’t flowing, try a writing sprint. I wrote about writing sprints in a recent post, when you set a timer for 15-30 minutes and push yourself to write as many words as you can. It sounds ridiculously simple, but I relied on sprints the year. I think the reason they work for me is that I’ve learned I can crank out 500+ words in a 20 minute sprint. That means three sprints = 1 hour = most of my daily word count. I sprinted by myself most of the days I wrote. If you want company, @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter has an enthusiastic following.
Attend NaNoWriMo write-ins when you can. Writing is a solitary activity, and I relish my alone time to make up stories. This year, though, I attended several write-ins that made my writing stronger. During the write-ins at Writer’s Atelier and BookmarkIt, we sat around a room, someone kept time, and we sprinted together. There was lots of gabbing about tools (journals vs. computers, Scrivener vs. MS Word, favorite snacks), but I cranked out the words, too. I hit my daily word goal in a couple hours each time. A core group of writers showed up at multiple events, and we had a lot of fun celebrating (and lamenting) the writing process. I learned from them, how they crafted their stories and what they focused on with their characters. A final bonus last night: cheering for each other as we each hit the 50K mark, and toasting each other when we were all done.
My plan is to finish mapping out my story, and then put it away for a month. I have a fun story idea in a totally different genre that I want to play with, and I need some distance from this one. Then I want to come back and edit. It’s going to need lots added (to flesh out the scenes) and lots cut (because the supernatural creature talks so much).
A final thought: I’m very lucky to have a family who tells me to “go write,” because they know I need a break from real life things and to get back to the story. They’re right – writing is work, but it’s wondrous work.