What NaNoWriMo Taught Me

Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo and I’m cashing in at 42,808 words. 7,192 words short of completing the 50k word challenge. I'll actually be writing some more today, but since I'm not going to get in that last 7k, I’m going to go ahead and call it.

As I mentioned previously before I started, I'm a NaNo Rebel. Instead of working on only one project, I decided to spread it between several different projects in order to maximize my overall word count and I must say, I think NaNo has done me more good than not. That or I'm just trying to justify my loss as something good.

I’ll let you decide which side I’m taking. Let’s look at what I’ve learned:


Productivity Through Peer Pressure

It's surprising how much work you can get done because there are others working along side you. I've heard NaNoWriMo compared to group weight loss. You're far more likely to stick to your guns and actually do the work if there are others holding you accountable.

Previous to NaNoWriMo, my daily word count was rather low (at least lower than I wanted it to be). Although I didn't exactly stick to the rules, I found that I could bang out far more words per day than I had been. I don't think I ever worked so hard to keep up with the thousands of other authors who are writing every day than this past month.

The big takeaway is that I should find a way to get the same motivation every month. NaNoWriMo feels like a friendly competition, but my day to day writing life doesn't have the same impact. I do try to have scenes completed on a schedule for my Alpha Readers, but maybe I can find a way to fuel the flames outside of that.


Multitasking Writing Multiple Stories

Once again, I did not intend to follow the official NaNoWriMo rules strictly. I'm very picky about my word choice even though I know that I can tweek them in editing. This causes me to write slower than I need to make writing a major part of my creative output.

My remedy for this was to divide my NaNoWriMo word count across multiple stories and projects that were all writing based. Every project was part of my bigger plan and I found that jumping between each story was far easier than I anticipated. What I did anticipate was that I would get a much higher daily word count because it allowed me hit my creative peaks on one story and then repeat the same thing on another and not feel as though I was running out of steam on any one project.

This is a very important turning point for me because I have a lot of story ideas. The fact that I can write more than one story at once means that I can finish stories faster cummulatively because I end up with a higher overall word count. 


I Can Find More Time To Write

Between holding a day job, working on various other creative endeavors, and spending time with my family and friends, I found it difficult to find time to write. There are only so many hours in the day and if 8 to 10 of them go to the day job and 5 to 8 of them go to sleeping, I'm left with 8 and some margins to do family, friends and secondary work. And what if I want to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones and do the laundry?

It can be rather difficult to find the time to do everything you want when you have more on your plate than you can eat. I have to do my day job. I have to sleep and I most definitely have to spend time with my family. After those things, you have to pick your battles.

I entered NaNoWriMo thinking that I had maxed out my time. I found that shaving off time from sleep and working through lunch breaks (and, really, any gap of time I had available), I was able to squeeze in more story than ever before. Combine this with productivity through peer pressure and working on multiple stories to get the most done, I was nearly able to reach my goal.


What about you?

Did you do NaNoWriMo? If so, what did you learn from it?

If you haven't done it before, would you consider doing it in the future?

I'd love to get your insights!