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What I Learned from NaNoWriMo

Well, I did it.  I'm a NaNoWriMo 2008 Winner.  That means I wrote (and proved I wrote, though admittedly, it is still an honor system) over 50,000 words as part of a story/novel between November 1 and November 30th, 2008. 
Actually, 1667 words (or more!) a day is very long as you can figure out what's happening next!  Here are some things I learned from my first NaNoWriMo.
  • Forcing yourself to write that many words that fast is a good exercise.  When I started this, I made a personal goal to write 20,000 words in a month's time.  You see, I've been stalled on my writing, and after writing a mere 5000 words in October, it seemed nothing short of masochistic to try to write 50,000 words in a month.  So I decided I'd do my best to write 20,000.  And after I wrote 20,000, I wasn't read to give up, so I kept writing.  And lo and behold, I kept finding words.
  • It's fun to have a little bar graph to show your progress.  It may be silly, but watching the little blue bars get taller each day was an incentive for me.  I'm never quite sure how long a novel is going to be when I write it, but perhaps a progress meter with a guesstimated final wordcount would be a good idea for me. (On the other hand, having to update a progress meter by changing the code is a pain in the neck.  Maybe not.)  Do you all use progress meters?  Do you like them?
  • Don't stop writing just because it's hard. The first 15,000 to 20,000 words I wrote for NaNoWriMo were hard. The last 10,000 were excruciating. But I didn't give up. Stephen King says, "Stopping a piece of work just because it's hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel s*** from a sitting position." (On Writing)
  • The notecard approach is helpful. I have never been a subscriber of the notecard approach, which is, in short, to write plot points on notecards and then organize them as you see fit. But when I decided -- two days before NaNoWriMo was to begin -- that I was going to try this, I sat down with some notecards and threw every plot point I had in my head onto one of those cards. Though the system broke down a bit at the end, it was helpful overall, and I can see myself using it again.
  • How to beat Writer's Block.  I never watch youtube clips when people embed them in their pages, but I promise you, this is worth it, because he's right.  And because if you do what he tells you, you will break through your writer's block.  I know.  I was desperate enough to do what he says.

Now, the million dollar question -- would I do it again?  If I had a story idea that I thought could sustain and entire novel...absolutely!

Here is my question for you, though.  What is up with the people who just stop writing at, like, 50,038 words and never touch it again? Was it really just about the 50,000 words?!

Edit: Here are the final stats from NaNoWriMo: Nearly final tallies! 119,401 Authors participated in NaNoWriMo 2008 & there were 21,683 verified winners! Congrats to all! 18% winning rate


  1. Elana Johnson said...
    I love, love, LOVE that video. He's so right. You are awesome, Archy. Awe-inspiring. :)
    Anonymous said...
    Congrats on your NaNo WIN! It really is quite an proud, be ecstatic, get a good night's sleep!
    Kate Karyus Quinn said...
    Wooo!!! Congrats on winning NaNo - what a wonderful accomplishment!
    Ripley said...
    Congratulations bae

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