For those of you not familiar with NaNo, the idea is to start with a blank page on Nov. 1 at 12:01 a.m. with the goal of completing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30. I chose a slightly different goal: 50,000 words progress on an existing novel.
I failed boldly. Magnificently. Wrote only a fraction of the goal. And I'm still happy I did it, because I learned a few things along the way:
- It's easier to rack up a word count than you might think, as long as the butt goes in the chair.
- Learning and doing are part of an unending cycle. The more you write, the more you learn about writing. The more you learn, the more your writing changes.
- Your own goals don't have to be anyone else's. One writer I know on Facebook set a goal of 500 words per day during NaNoWriMo. My goal was to make progress on an existing novel.
- Some of us need more self-care than we want to admit or give to ourselves. I don't do well with inadequate food, water, rest, and exercise, and providing myself with those things takes time. You need to carve out that time.
- You have to factor in your own energy level when you set goals. I tend to be low-energy, and I forget that sometimes.
- Energy level includes clearing out enough mental space to think and imagine.
- Community matters. Having writer friends -- online or off -- who can be cheerleaders is a great help when discouragement sets in.
Would I do NaNoWriMo again? Maybe, although I seem also to have learned that I'm temperamentally incapable of writing fast and sloppy first drafts. One way or another, though, I know I need to push forward.
How about you? Did you give NaNoWriMo a go? Tell us what you thought!
P.S. While we have you, we just want to put in quick plugs for two projects we're involved in:
1) If you're in Cheyenne tomorrow, stop by the Recover Wyoming book launch for Watch My Rising, an anthology edited by Lynn G. Carlson. It will be held in the Asher Bldg at 500 W. 15th St. on Wednesday, Dec. 7 from 6-9 p.m. Read more about it in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle article by Ellen Fike.
2) The WyoPoets Eugene V. Shea National Poetry Contest postmark deadline has been extended until December 15, so there's still time to get your entry in. Find guidelines on the WyoPoets website. Questions may be directed to contest chair Susan Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.