Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lessons from a Month of Writing

For the past 25 days, I’ve been engrossed in NaNoWriMo. I’m 42242 words into my manuscript. That means I’m 7758 words from being a NaNo winner! Here is what I’ve learned so far:

Plan ahead
To write a novel in a month, I had to be prepared starting Day 1. In October, I wrote a six page outline of my story. It wasn’t important that I stuck to this outline, but it was necessary that it existed if I needed something to fall back on. I wrote out character descriptions, came up with names and created settings from the ground up. I even bought poster board and drew a map of my fantasy world. I prepared the building blocks of my story (in a handy, travel-ready binder) so when November came, I could just write.
Don’t (over) think, just write
I stressed over word choice too many times this month. I let myself think over the word “walk” or “turn” or “like” for a few minutes before just typing it anyway so I could get on with the story. I forced myself to type out the simple, overused word so I wouldn’t get stuck. And I did it with this thought in mind: I can and will change it later, in edits. I realized that to write 2000 words a day, I couldn’t over think one or five or a dozen words, or I would never get anywhere. I just had to write.

Write even if you don’t want to
So many mornings I woke up and didn’t want to write. I wanted to go back to bed, hide under the covers or turn on the Today Show and zone out to Matt Lauer. Some days I woke up with a headache. Most days I had some excuse for why I shouldn’t write. But I had a goal to make, so I ignored the bed, the TV and the headaches. I put myself in front of my laptop (usually with the assistance of coffee) and wrote. If I hadn’t forced myself out of bed in the 7 o’clock hour every day this month, I wouldn’t be close to my current word count. I didn’t need the extra sleep, I needed the extra words.

You can still have a life and write
In October, I thought that to write everyday meant I wouldn’t do anything besides write and work. Reading would go by the wayside. Boyfriend time would be limited. And I could forget about being caught up on my Hulu queue. But, surprisingly, I slowly realized it didn’t have to be that way. If I did work, then I wrote before or after and still had a few free hours in the evening. If it was a day off, I churned out 2000 words before 11AM then had the rest of the day to read a book, watch Castle, hang out with my boyfriend or work on my blog.

This November, I learned about my writing habit. I discovered that waking up at 7AM and going straight to the computer works for me. I discovered that writing is an effort I have to make; it isn’t just going to happen by itself. And I thankfully realized that my life will not stop if I start a daily writing habit. Life and writing can co-exist. And I plan to keep up that coexistence into December and 2013!


  1. You're making remarkable progress! I'm very proud of you and I can't wait to read the final rough draft :)

  2. Congratulations! Keep going!

  3. This is fantastic! I've been looking forward to an update. Good luck in this last week!

  4. Thanks so much everyone! I'm excited that it's working out! And I'm going to keep typing away in these last few days.