nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner-square-sizeWell, I did it. I survived National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and along with thousands of other crazy writers, I attempted to write 50,000 words of a new book in the month of November. Actually, my personal goal was to capitalize on the momentum and accountability to jump start the fast draft of this book and then finish it up by mid-December.

By 8:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, I finished writing chapter 18 (of 23 on my outline) of Sing a New Song and passed that 50,000 word mark. A few clicks later and my word count had been officially validated by the powers-that-be and I won NaNoWriMo, thereby gaining access to the really cool graphic for this post. And then someone asked if I would do it again, which got me to thinking really hard about what I have learned over that crazy month of November.

First, I wrote what I call a fast draft where my only goal was to get as much of the story as possible out of my brain and onto paper. With fingers flying across the keyboard, I didn’t bother with proper punctuation or even spelling and the pages are littered with starred notes to myself to add an action beat or verify some story detail. Complete sentences were also optional as I sketched the stage directions and internal reactions of the characters as they navigated a particular scene. The story is there on the page, however, by writing fast, I still have a lot of work to do before I can even start sending chapters to my critique partner.

Still, by winning NaNoWriMo, I learned that I can churn out books faster than I ever have before. If I took two days per chapter with the same intense focus, I could not only fast draft the scenes but also get the pages into a pretty clean condition before moving on to the next chapter. At a pace of three chapters per week, I could have a complete book done and generally self-edited in about two months. (Which, once I finish writing the remaining five chapters and clean up this draft would be about the same. Hmm.)

And if I attempted to write a shorter novella or two for a collection, I could whip out a fairly decent story in a month since those are only 25,000 words. So, if I applied this level of NaNoWriMo effort to the future books currently percolating in my brain, I could have a lot more stories ready to share with my readers. And more books out in the world means more sales to even more potential readers which is a really good thing for building a writing career.

But I’ve also learned how draining the NaNoWriMo focus can be on my creativity, so I’m definitely taking time this month to recharge my mental and creative batteries….and dream big ideas for 2017. Can I say that it’s perfect timing for resting up with Christmas and family and non-stop Hallmark movies in addition to my loaded Kindle app?

Which brings me to the next logical questions. What’s next and would I do it again? First up is finishing and then revising this current book. Then, as I always do at the end of a year, I’ll be dreaming up a list of projects for 2017 and developing a strategic plan. One writer friend of mine plans in 90-day or three-month chunks and I like the idea of breaking the year down into four main projects. Depending on how those projects line up, I could see myself ready to write a new book come next November. Or I could see myself doing a personal writing challenge in October instead.

Am I glad I attempted it? Yes. (I’ve tried twice before but never made it past the first week before being slammed with serious heath issues that put me too far behind to try to catch up.) Am I thrilled I won? Absolutely, because I know that intense focus toward a goal reaps results. Would I encourage others to do it? Yes, even if their personal goal is a lower word count because the accountability and focus build those writing muscles.

And what does all of this rambling reflection mean for you? More stories to come from my brain to yours. Speaking of which, I really should get back into editing mode.

I Won NaNoWriMo, But Would I Do It Again?
Tagged on: