What I learned from NanoWrimo

I have never participated in NanoWrimo until now, and you know what I learned?

It’s grueling. I suppose it would be easier if I had no life besides writing, and I didn’t live with other humans, but I do and I do.

That said, I have to say I have some real respect for some of the people I was participating with. There were people that I participated with in a virtual write in on Facebook that were super cool and supportive. This lady was particularly supportive, and totally beat me by five days to the finish line! http://www.vs-holmes.com/

The other people? Well to be specific 3/4 of the people on my NanoWrimo friends list did not even finish. I can understand why, though. Cranking out a minimum number of words each day is not easy.

Here are the most important things I learned.

  1. The first thing I learned is that it is easier just to type stuff out than you think. Not everything has to be perfect right now; you can always fix it later.
  2. Sprints are fun! I didn’t get into any sprints at first. I felt very strongly about “Not wanting to turn this into a competition.” But when I finally just said “Why the hell not?” and did it, it was quite a bit of fun and increased my productivity a great deal.
  3. How much I can accomplish when I set my mind to it. This one is really important. It took me about fifteen months to finish my first draft of Spirit of Magik. Yes, there was revision occurring during that time, as well as world building, but if I had been working as hard as I did during this event, I am certain I could have finished it in half of the time.
  4. DO NOT TAKE A DAY OFF!!! About day nine or ten, I decided it was a good idea to take a day off, to recharge my batteries, etc. I was ahead of my NonoWrimo goals too. It was nice to have a day off. Then instead of gaining a benefit from that, I was completely stressed out for the next three weeks trying to play catch up. If you have a family, you pretty much have mandatory time off with turkey day anyway, and you don’t have time for any more than that!

Now, with all of that being said, I did do a few things before Nanowrimo started to ensure my success.

  1. I had an outline of my story. Without a firm idea of where I was going, I would have failed, period. I cannot overstate the importance of this to anyone considering participating next year!
  2. I explained to my family and friends what was going on a week or two before it started. “Sorry people, but I am going to be working my butt off, and I may not be sociable. It isn’t you, and I need you to understand and be supportive.” If a person isn’t willing to be understanding and supportive after you tell them that, they may not be real friends. I leave that to your judgment though.
  3. If you are writing in another world, be certain to have all the rules of this world laid out before hand. I used the world that I created for Spirit of Magik for mine (which I call Lenaria), but even so I still had to figure out some social rules that I hadn’t dealt with before. Even if your groundwork is well laid, you will likely find a particular situation you hadn’t considered while you are writing. A person can’t account for every situation, but you can at least get the big things out of the way.

I can’t guarantee every person will succeed if they follow what I say here. Success or failure is largely connected to your work ethic.

Work hard and you’ll succeed. That’s all.

There was one thing I did that reduced the number of words I cranked out per day. Each day when I sat down, I would read what I wrote the day before, and do minor revision/editing. These minor changes vastly improved what I wrote, and is largely responsible for me just squeaking past the finish line yesterday.

One of the people I was with during the virtual write in said; “Don’t edit! Just write!” While there is nothing wrong with this, I was also trying to polish it enough to send to test readers. This book is going to be a prequel to Spirit of Magik, one I hope to have on Amazon by January.

Here is my NanoWrimo page on the official site. You can see my stats, and you can send me a buddy request if you like. There is also an excerpt from the upcoming book Fugitive as well. (Please forgive the fact that it is still rough!)
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!