Reflections of a First-Time Nanowrimo-er

When I set out on my first national novel writing month endeavor this past November, I knew that I was going into it with no hope or chance of reaching the 50,000-word goal. We were heading out of town for vacation on the 17th and would be getting home the 27th. I assumed I would not do any writing while on vacation. I had hoped, however, to make it to the halfway mark.

When our entire family got hit with a nasty 12-hour stomach virus on the 14th, however, I realized that I would not even make it to the half-way mark.

But that is okay. I have come to realize something through this experience. And that is this: I am not cut out for nanowrimo.

“Let me explain, no, there is too much, let me sum up.” – The Princess Bride

There are a lot of good things about nanowrimo that I would like to start with.

The community. Even if you don’t know how to use the discussion forums (ahem, like me) or never even talk to anyone else participating in Nano, there is something inspiring and encouraging about knowing that a large number of other people are sitting down to write their stories with you every day.

The word count goals. It is very nice to have a tangible goal that one can reach out towards and touch. At the end of the day, it is thrilling to know that you reached or exceeded your goal, and while it is a little disheartening on the days you don’t make it, there’s always tomorrow to try again.

The deadline. November 30. This helps stave off procrastination and writer’s block. The feeling of having to get something monumental done in a small and specific time frame is exhilarating.

There are some bad things about nano I’ve heard from other authors. The time crunch, the sleeplessness, the all-consuming nature of writing at such a breakneck pace, the writer’s block, the inability to get anything else done for 30 days.

Surprisingly enough, none of those were the cons that made me realize nano isn’t for me. The biggest reason I don’t believe I’ll ever “win” (hit the 50,000 word mark) a nano endeavor is also one of the pros.

The word count goals.

I simply cannot turn off my inner editor. It’s the way I’ve programmed myself to write since I began writing over 15 years ago. I write ten to twenty pages of rough draft, then I go back and edit, polish, cut, and add. Then I move on and write another ten to twenty pages, rinse, and repeat. I found, as I worked towards my goal of 25,000 words, that I could not simply sit down and write the entire book without going back and doing some editing along the way.

Regardless, Nanowrimo was fun. I made it to 21,000 words, and since I only participated for about 13 or 14 days, I’m satisfied with where I ended up. I may participate again next year, because it’s fun, and because of the previously mentioned pros to joining into the writing frenzy. I may never actually “win,” but that’s fine with me, too.

See you next year, Nanowrimo! For now, it’s time to start gearing up for ABNA!

~ jenelle

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