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13 Things I’ve Learned from NaNoWriMo This Year

NaNoWriMo Ate My SoulThis is my fourth consecutive year participating in National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. (That’s pronounced NAno-WRY-mo.) 50,000 words in 30 days. You’re supposed to write a whole novel from start to finish in one month, but they allow rebels to participate. This year, I decided to be a rebel so I could finish the novel I started last year by writing another 50,000 words.

As I type up this post, my manuscript is currently 95,786 words long. I have 34 hours to write slightly more than 4,000 more words.

So what have I learned from this frenzied writing experience this time around?

  1. It’s impossible to write with the television on.
  2. It’s impossible to write with a 7-year-old in the room.
  3. Even if it is possible to type a sentence here and there with a 7-year-old in the room, it’s probably best not to. He might start reading over you shoulder and ask you questions about murder trials and what “telepathy” means.
  4. You have to get up and move while writing, or else your legs will cramp up badly, and you have to literally crawl up the stairs to go to bed.
  5. Make sure you have a large beverage next to you before you start writing. It’s all well and good to get up and move to break up your writing session, but you want to choose those breaks wisely…not according to when you start having a coughing fit and desperately need a drink to make it stop.
  6. Fixation on word count can be frustrating, particularly when you’re nearing the end of the narrative and you have about 5,000 more words you “need” to write, but the story doesn’t really require it…
  7. …So you try telling yourself that finishing the story, not writing 50,000 words in one month, makes you a true winner, especially when advice from someone who works at a publishing house says that 90k-100k is perfect for your genre. (Urban fantasy, by the way.)
  8. A good spouse should never been taken for granted, especially one who is willing to leave the room so they won’t be a distraction while you write.
  9. If you need a snack while writing, prepare yourself a single serving. If you want, say, oyster crackers, pour some into a small bowl. Otherwise, you may end up finishing the entire bag, where there was easily 1/3 of the bag left when you started.
  10. Characters you’ve known for over a year now can still surprise you by saying or doing something other than what you had planned for them.
  11. It’s okay to speak of your characters as if they’re real people. There are 300,000 other NaNoWriMo novelists who are doing the exact same thing. You’re not crazy. You’re just a writer.
  12. Although being a writer can make you a little crazy.
  13. Well, maybe crazy is a pre-existing condition you must have before choosing to become a writer…
Christina Gleason (845 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I’m a relatively high-functioning Aspie who also lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. I am not ashamed to admit that I am in the care of a psychiatrist, who assures me that people in therapy are often better adjusted than “normal” people who are not, because at least we know what our issues are and are working on them. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including World of Warcraft and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead. I have started writing no fewer than five novels, and I hope to finish one of them...eventually.

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{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Meg November 29, 2012, 8:58 pm

    I am also participating in this NaNo, but I started a week late. I am not sure if I will be able to complete the 50k, but I have proved myself how much I love writing and that I am able to write a novel (or at least a complete draft) in a lot shorter period on time of what I had previously tought. This week I have written around 16k (or more). I am really sleepy right now but I feel so great with myself for all the things I have learnt and done in this month. I am totally in love with NaNoWriMo. An AWESOME idea and experience!!!!

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