Since I was introduced to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in the year 2012, I became instantly infatuated. One month out of the year, the month of November, to dedicate your life to writing fifty thousand words in thirty days. I mean, how hard could it be, right? I was a “closet writer”, a shy, aspiring author. But my whole life, I’ve been a writer. I’ve written short stories, poems, journal entries, silly little songs and one first draft of what I called my “starter novel.” (You know the one that gets shoved in a desk drawer, regaled to the dark abyss, forgotten and dust covered, never to be seen by the light of day?)
Let me just say, for me, NaNoWriMo was harder than I thought. I participated in NaNoWriMo over the years, but the highest word count I accomplished was about thirty thousand words. I tell people that it’s a marathon for writers, only no running, just typing…until your fingers fall off or bleed. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but you get the point. And although I know that there are writers out there that may write more than that, for me it was a stretch.
Here’s the thing, over the years I had started to dread NaNoWriMo, while also riding the high of the anticipation of it. I’d ask myself, will this be the year I actually make it? That I’ll win the whole shebang? And then when the month of November inevitably ended, I’d silently end up with this sense of guilt, shame and self loathing for not reaching Fifty-K. I’d tell myself things like, well you wrote more than you would have, and so what if you’ve done your third draft of the same book? And yes, there were extenuating circumstances, like jobs, babies, mothering and life. I mean, it gave me a healthy admiration for the authors who work full time jobs, have families and still have the mental capacity to build worlds, describe scenes, plot away and make pages come to life. And it came to be that the year 2020, I finally, finally, completed the big Five-O, fifty thousand words. So here are some things I learned in this epic year completing NaNoWriMo.
№1 — Having a Goal and Willing to Stretch — We can read all day about goal setting and pushing past our comfort zones. The…