Thoughts on NaNoWriMo

I promised a WriMo post, so here it is.

I’m currently at 45,479 words. All signs point toward me finishing, and I’m feeling like a champion. I put a lot of things on hold so I could participate in NaNoWriMo (like homework, TV shows, and . . . yeah, that’s pretty much all that’s going on in my life right now, which is probably why I’ll be able to get to 50,000 words—so I guess there really isn’t a lot going on in my life, but still).

The point is that even if I didn’t make it, NaNoWriMo encouraged me to write 45,479 words that I normally would not have written. And this is important for all writers to keep in mind regardless of whether or not they reach the 50k. So thank you for that, WriMo.

But still I have to say I’m a little disappointed in WriMo. While it did encourage me to write, I’ve decided that it’s simply not for me. I like being able to take more time when I write so that I can better plan the flow of the story and so that the words I spit out aren’t quite so awful the first time around. I think that WriMo actually makes it so that I have more work to do because I’m going to have to rework everything I just wrote. But that’s okay. Now I know it’s not for me. And I’m so glad that it’s worked as a motivation for so many writers. Sometimes everyone needs a good kick in the pants.

Tangent time.

Want to know a secret?

Finishing a book is like having our birthday. For some reason we expect to feel different when we’re a year older, but we don’t. Being 19 is exactly like being 18. Being 25 is exactly like being 24. And the real disappointment: being 21 is exactly like being 20. Likewise we expect to feel different when we finish writing a book, but we don’t. We feel exactly as we did when we were struggling, first-time writers.

But don’t fret, those of you trying to finish your first book. Because what we don’t realize is how we’ve grown during that year or during the time it took to write that book. We’ve learned new lessons, we’ve discovered what is and isn’t working for us, we’ve (hopefully) figured out what we are and aren’t good at, we’ve discovered new likes and dislikes. And in the end, we can decide that we are better off because of that year of growth. Now we can set new goals for improvement.

So it doesn’t matter how much we’ve written or how old we are. It’s what we’ve learned. Me? I learned that WriMo isn’t for me. Others may have discovered a new subplot, a new character, a new writing formula, a new genre, whatever.

Now it’s getting time to revise and make that book shine. Don’t stop just because November is over. We all have a lot of work still to do. Set a goal for finishing that story (if it’s longer than 50k) or for finishing your first round of revisions. Motivate yourself now that WriMo soon won’t be there. Create writing challenges with your friends to encourage you to keep at it.

Whatever you do, don’t stop.


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