Last night I hit the big 50k. I was so excited as I got closer and closer to my goal and it made it easier as I saw the remaining amount I had to write dwindle and dwindle. Once I was halfway, I knew I could finish because, well, I’d already written as much as I still had to write. Does that make sense?
I will probably keep writing, my story can have a little more to it I think. Plus I’m already in the habit, and since I’ve already made it to 50,000 words I don’t have the stress of needing to write every day, now it’s all just fun. Not that it wasn’t before, but there were definitely some days I felt like I was forcing myself to put anything I could think of on the page.
I thought, since I’ve passed my goal, I would share some of the things I did to be able to win.
Encouragement From Others
I don’t use Facebook very often anymore, but I started again once I was doing NaNo, updating my status with my word count. I got a surprisingly large amount of support in the form of likes of those statuses. It made me feel good that people were out there somewhere cheering me on and sharing in my accomplishments. Once when I was feeling really stuck in my story, I even posted for help for ideas and got a lot of cool responses. I also posted in our celebration thread on the NaNo forum for my region, posting whenever I hit a big goal and seeing others make it to their goals as well.
Even though it was completely anxiety-ridden and outside my comfort zone, I went to write ins. I didn’t get huge word counts when I was there, but they did give me a large amount of time where I was forced to write, or at least try. Plus it’s nice to be able to talk about your story to other people and share in your successes.
NaNoWordSprints on Twitter
I could not have written as much as I did without @NaNoWordSprints. If you’re writing, they are amazing. Basically what word sprints are is whoever is hosting the sprints at the time gives you an allotted amount of time, say twenty minutes, starting at a certain time, and you write as much as you can in that time without stopping. Then when the sprint is over you can share your word count for that sprint on Twitter with everyone else who is sprinting alongside you. Sometimes they give out fun prompts too, which I used a lot of the time. Sometimes it just meant throwing in a word I might not have used otherwise, sometimes they gave me a whole different part of the plot to add in. I think I wrote probably 75% of what I wrote during word sprints.
The other thing about word sprints that I found immensely helpful was they gave me a good idea of how much I can write in a certain amount of time. Thinking you have to sit down and write 1,667 words is scary. Knowing you can write 800 words in a thirty minute sprint, or 200 words in a ten minute sprint, makes that number so much less daunting. Aiming for those smaller numbers, knowing they would add up to my daily goal, kept me going.
Taking It Slow
I am lucky to have plenty of time to write since I don’t have a full time job. I didn’t have to force myself to write as fast as possible trying to crank out words. I took lots of breaks, some of which were given by the word sprint folks, some of which I gave myself. I also took two whole days off where I didn’t even look at my novel.
Not Stopping At The Daily Goal
I very rarely stopped writing at the daily goal of 1,667 words. Obviously, or I wouldn’t have gotten so far in such a short amount of time. Once I was in the rhythm of writing, I just didn’t want to stop.
First Person and Dialogue
I wrote my novel in the first person, which was immensely helpful to me. As a blogger, I am used to writing from the first person. Every other time I’ve tried to write, I always wrote third person and it was always just a mess. I realized that this type of writing is what is most comfortable for me. I also had a lot of characters and wrote a lot of dialogue, also something that was really comfortable for me. When I try to be super descriptive, I just stare at the screen in a stupor. So I didn’t try to do it. I stuck with what was comfortable, and it helped a lot.
Outlining & Pantsing
I started my novel with an outline, got through it when I was halfway through my novel, and pantsed the rest. I think both have great benefits. The outlining part at the beginning was exactly what I needed. I knew where my story was going and didn’t have to think too hard about where I was going next. My outline, mind you, was just about three pages in a small notebook that overviewed the story. It was nothing fancy. Once my outline was over and I was just writing haphazardly, I let my characters show me where the story was going and that was fun too.
So that’s what I did. If you are reading this because you are participating in NaNo, ignore everything I just said and remember that every word you write matters! This is your story. Write it, and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. I am no fancy writer, I’m just a blogger who’s been trying to win at NaNo for six years, failing miserably each time. In the past, every year, I start writing on day one, write less than the goal, feel like a failure, go to a write in, don’t write as much as everyone else, then give up after the first week. But this year was different, and it can be for you too!