What the heck is NaNoWriMo?
If you are an author, then you’ve probably heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For those who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it is a writer’s challenge that occurs in November every year. Every person that participates in the challenge has one goal . . . to complete a 50,000-word novel in only 30 days. That’s a lot of writing in one month, and particularly challenging since it also falls around the holidays.
My decision to participate
I’ve wanted to take the challenge for the past couple of years, but I had other projects to complete at the time. This year, however, I published Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions just in time for me to start a new project. I made the decision to participate in the National Novel Writing Month 50K challenge about a week before it started. I read up on the “rules” and then started preparing for the most challenging task I’ve taken on since I began this writing gig. Considering 50,000 words isn’t quite a novel length for me (all three of my novels are over 100,000 words each), I decided to personally make this challenge about sitting my butt down every day to write. Everything else came second.
Sacrifices made during National Novel Writing Month
Being self-employed, I scheduled my non-writing work around National Novel Writing Month. I actually turned down a couple of jobs in November because it conflicted with my writing schedule. Thankfully, these two small business clients also know I’m an independently published author and were very supportive about this NaNoWriMo 50K challenge I committed to.
I’m also a gamer, so that was also a bit of a hurdle for me. Video games are my main source of entertainment and stress relief. I’ll be the first to admit as an author, that my favorite pastime can also be my biggest distraction. Last month I had to resist the temptation of joining my friends online to play Call of Duty, Battlefield, Destiny, and Grand Theft Auto. My gaming buddies are a great bunch too. Some of them have become very close friends of mine, so disappearing off the PlayStation Network and going AWOL really was a bit of a sacrifice during the month of November. Other fellow gamers understand what I mean. Non-gamers are probably rolling their eyes and shaking their heads. That’s okay, because my gaming buddies were also very supportive of my commitment to take on this task, even though it did mean giving them the cold shoulder for a few weeks. With that said, I did manage to sneak in some game time here and there though. I didn’t want to go into withdrawal and get the shakes, you know?
Turning off my inner editor
With the exception of publishing my very first novel, participating in National Novel Writing Month was the most satisfying and rewarding experience I’ve had as an author. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to “win” this challenge, but the key to building momentum (and avoiding any type of writer’s block) was turning off my inner editor. This is something that I’m really bad at when I’m working on a novel, and sometimes it hinders my progress. Everyone that I talked to who had experience participating in NaNoWriMo gave the same advice . . . just write! Don’t worry about the structure. Don’t worry about the grammar. Don’t even worry about spelling errors or if you’re using the correct word in a sentence. Just get the story written. You can go back and polish later. So that is exactly what I did. And it made a huge difference!
Crossing the finish line
I normally take the week of Thanksgiving off for vacation, so I basically shaved off a week from the four-week challenge. No pressure, of course. :-) I also pre-ordered my “NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner” t-shirt as further motivation to make it to the finish line. Listening to the advice given to me by my peers in the writing community, and “buddying up” with a few other writers, made a huge difference on whether or not I would meet my goal of finishing by November 21, just in time for my scheduled vacation. I didn’t quite meet that personal goal, but after committing to hours of brainstorming and writing every day to the tune of about 2,300 words per day, I managed to cross the 50,000-word finish line on Saturday, November 22.
It’s something I worked very hard on and will display my certificate for completing my very first NaNoWriMo 50K Challenge with pride. I’m can’t wait to participate again next year.
If you are also an author and have never challenged yourself to writing 50,000 words in 30 days, I highly recommend you doing it. It was the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. It really was the key to building momentum for me personally.
If you have also participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time, I would love to read about your own experience in the comments section below.