November is one of my favorite times of the year. I write all of the time, but I love to hunker down in my cozy desk area and write all of my imaginings into a new novel. However, it’s not an easy feat. It is a constant educational process, and here are the three things I learned when I participated in NaNoWriMo 2016.
1) My stories are so much more than I thought they would be.
The story that I chose for this year’s NaNoWriMo was something I had worked on since I was a teenager, a high fantasy I wanted to expand. My writing and voice have changed so much since I first created the story, and I was excited to see how that translated. There are many techniques and approaches to finishing NaNoWriMo, and I normally only do a little planning before I start. Even with an outline, I learned so much about my characters and the plot, that what was supposed to be one book turned it into a four book series. I had so much fun delving into the details, that I expanded the first book immensely and created a series that never would’ve existed before.
2) I still make mistakes.
Even with a college degree and minor in creative writing, I still have a lot to learn. November has always been the best opportunity to explore my flaws. Two of the biggest mistakes that I’ve struggled with is being too wordy and misusing the passive voice. However, when I write I try not to think about the major problems initially because the most important thing about that month is to finish and get it down on paper. The process comes into play when I edit the book and do re-writes. Another benefit of NaNoWriMo is that I also take this experience into my professional life, where I’m even more aware of my mistakes and am able to proofread and correct myself.
3) I learned that I can finish.
I don’t even want to mention the first year and my unsuccessful attempt. But in 2015, work and life eventually caught up with me, and I was not able to get past 33,000 words. I did finish the book on December 31st, just in time to complete one of my 2015 resolutions. It felt awesome, even though I did not finish in November. It felt even better when I focused in 2016 for the entire month of November and finished on the last day of the challenge, a vast improvement from the previous year. Even though I completed it, I struggled with pacing for the month, and my goal next year is to finish again and to write along to the coveted 1,667 words or more per day.
What are your experiences with NaNoWriMo? Are any of them similar to mine, and what are your techniques to handle that month? Comment below with your answers!