Like many writers, I participated in NaNoWriMo in November.
I didn’t win.
I’m not taking this necessarily as a bad thing, though. I learned much about myself, other writers, and the NaNo experience.
What I learned about myself:
I’m not an organized writer. I tried to be, but it didn’t work out for me. Before NaNo commenced, I printed out two versions of plot outlines to help me plan what I was going to write. I filled out the less detailed one okay, but drew blanks when it came to the more detailed one. I wasn’t sure where I wanted my story to go.
I’m still trying to find balance. Social Media. Day Job. Family. Swim Schedule. On-the-side Editing Job. Writing. Holidays. Reading. Not in this order, but these are my priorities in life. While my day job is only 40 hours a week, it’s not a Monday-Friday 9-5. My husband works 24/48 shifts. Before I was “serious” about my writing, our family had to be creative with scheduling. Now, it’s an outright challenge.
I’m coming off the publishing high. When you publish your first work (or maybe any… not sure yet), you feel accomplished, exhilarated, and almost unstoppable. There’s a nervous energy that surrounds you. Stay up until 3am to blog? No problem. Wake up at 5am to answer that one really awesome person who commented on your tweet? Absolutely. After a while, the aura of happy energy wanes and you’re left bleary eyed while searching for yesterday’s coffee.
I’m not a social person. Well, at least not as much as I thought I was. As a person born in the murky years between gen X and millennials, I can swallow my anxiety and paste on a smile to socialize in person at a party or meeting, but it exhausts me after a couple of hours. On the other hand, I enjoy technology and have some nifty apps, but I have a hard time juggling all of my accounts and get overwhelmed with the amount of notifications I receive.
What I learned about other writers:
Most writers who participate in NaNo are supportive. I joined a couple of Facebook groups and found many writers cheering each other on as they raced toward their goals. Not only was there support about the numbers game everyone plays in November, but also idea sharing, games for people with writer’s block, and general support in life.
Writers are as varied as the prose they write. You would think that this would be a given, yet I don’t know that it is. Close your eyes and picture a writer working. Did you see a person hunched over a desk littered with papers, notebooks, coffee mugs or tea cups? Someone who may or may not have a computer, or left that desk in a couple of days? I think that’s the stereotypical idea of a writer, but few are actually like that. Most of us have a life outside of the book world, like other jobs or school. Some of us leave our house every day, and a few of us even do “crazy” things like ride motorcycles or get tattoos.
What I learned about Nano:
Nano is meant to be a habit builder, as in getting writers in the habit of writing a little every day. Sometimes, it works. Other times, people set aside specific days and write double or triple the amount they would if they wrote daily. In the end, really, it’s all about getting to that 50,000 word goal.
Am I disappointed I didn’t stick with it and win? A little.
Will I do it again next year? Probably.
What I’d really like to know is others take on NaNoWriMo. Did you do NaNo? If no, why not? If you did, how did it go for you? Did you learn anything?