The first four years I did NaNoWriMo in November, I won easily, with plenty of time to spare and a word count of +60k. So I figured this year would be much the same, even with an increased social life, and set my daily word count goal at 2000 words. I failed that goal miserably, barely making it to 50k on the last day. This is what I learned from my almost-failure:
1. It’s ok to put your own life before writing. I loved my time away from the novel, travelling, meeting people, seeing new places, and I don’t regret it for a second. That said..
2. It’s really hard to get back to writing if you skip a few days. Next year, I am definitely making sure there are no holidays booked in November, because even though I had a great time, I really struggled with getting back into a rhythm. Before the start, I figured I’d just come back and write 4000 words in a day to compensate. I barely made it to the minimum 1667 the first day. There’s a reason professional writers write every day.
3. Plot ninjas are life savers. I was frustrated with struggling to write, didn’t like what I was writing, and overall just wasn’t motivated. So I had my main character kidnapped and turned the novel upside down. I don’t know if it improved things, but it certainly helped me to keep writing and get me interested again.
4. Past performance is no indication of future success. I was too cocky with my word count planning, and I paid the price. It was a very humbling experience, and I’m glad I had it (but still won in the end.. phew 0.o). It reminded me what NaNoWriMo is all about; not to write loads of words, but to push yourself and do the unexpected.
5. I’m incredibly proud of the NaNoers in my region who managed to write over 10k words on the last day and make the word count goal. I have no idea how they managed to keep going, but they made it, with no permanent injury to their backs or typing fingers and no use of tricks (like writing down lyrics) either. I can only hope to have the same motivation and investment in my story (which I really didn’t have this year..) if I were ever to fall so far behind.
6. I need feedback. I kept thinking my writing was awful, and wondering if I’m actually improving as the years go by. The only way I am going to know for sure is to let others read my work. So that’s my goal for next year.
So that’s what I’ve learned this year, I would love to hear what other people have learned, so please comment.