What I Learned From NaNoWriMo

Saturday, November 30

By Mars Taylor

     If you regularly read Consonancie articles (I do!), then you might recall the article I posted earlier this month about why one should partcipate in National Novel Writing Month. At the beginning of the month, hundreds of thousands of writers took up the task of writing a fifty thousand word novel in thirty days. I set out on the same endeavor, certain this would be the year that I made it. Spoiler alert: it wasn't. However, I did learn a lot about myself and my writing. Here's some of the things I learned.

1. Writing is hard, but writing on a timeframe is even harder.

     I thought writing was difficult when there was no time limit, but I felt like every word I wrote for NaNoWriMo was rushed. I couldn't focus on anything but the huge amount of words that I had left to write no matter how many words I had already written. I wrote over ten thousand words and I still wasn't impressed with myself because I failed to achieve someone else's higher standard.

2. It's okay to change your goals.

     Sometimes the goals we want to achieve aren't attainable. I achieved twenty percent of the NaNoWriMo goal. It wasn't what I wanted, but I kept going regardless. I had to change my goal to accomodate everything else I had going on in my busy life, and that's okay. I now have ten thousand words written on a personal project, and that's ten thousand more than I had in October.

3. Personal writing is something that can't be forced into a certain timeframe.

     I decided to write a memoir of sorts for my NaNo project. While that is totally acceptable for the competition's rule, I found it to be a mistake for me personally. Personal writing is mentally and emotionally exhausting. It requires delving deep into one's self to get the most honest writing. It made me relive the best and worst times of my life. Some days I would write pages and pages and some days would pass with not a single word written. It all depended on how I felt more than how much time I had.

     While I didn't "win" NaNoWriMo, I had a lot of fun building a playlist for this project and this is something I'll continue to work on after November ends. I wouldn't write something personal for NaNo again, but next year, I'll be coming out the gates stronger with more planning and a fictional idea!

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