The wild, often frustrating, yet incredibly mind-expanding experience that was #NaNoWriMo: what can I say about it? Now that it’s December and the dust has settled, I look back on the whole thing with an enormous sense of gratitude. I’m so happy that I took on this challenge and saw it through to the bitter end, ultimately surpassing the 50,000-word target on November 29th: one day ahead of schedule.
The first thing I want to say about the whole thing is that it made an immeasurable difference to my confidence as a writer and my faith in my own ability to see a project through to its very conclusion.
I’ve always been good at starting projects: my pattern before #NaNoWriMo began was that I would get very excited about a new story idea that came into my head and I’d work on it intensely for a few days or weeks … but whenever I got stuck, came across some kind of obstacle, or found my motivation wavering, I gave up far too easily. In terms of getting into a habit of writing every single day, #NaNoWriMo made such a difference. As I mentioned in a previous post, my prideful streak wouldn’t let me fail! I couldn’t allow other people to see me slacking off. 😱
My lowest daily word count during the month was about 400 words, while on my more productive days, I wrote ten times that. My motivation and desire to write definitely varied a lot from day to day, depending on what was going on for me or how I was feeling … but I still pushed myself. I still rose to the challenge. I still sat down, every damn day, and wrote something, even if it wasn’t much. As a result, I ended up surpassing that 50,000-word goal!
It’s hard to explain exactly what that means to me.
I always used to feel slightly embarrassed or ashamed of myself whenever I thought too deeply about my previous lack of consistent motivation and follow-through. But with this achievement, I’ve proven to myself that I really do have what it takes to finish a project: not to constantly stop and start, wavering and second-guessing myself, agonising over what I should do, and ultimately going nowhere. I’ve learned that I am able to just sit down and write, without stopping every few seconds to worry about whether the words I’ve chosen are ‘good enough’.
My novel (provisionally entitled Tomorrow’s Chances) isn’t exactly where I want it to be just yet, but it’s certainly much closer to the finish line than it was a month ago, and this gives me such a strong sense of hope and optimism. 😊
My number-one piece of advice to anyone who is considering doing #NaNoWriMo next year? Seek out solidarity. Find your people.
Social media use has to be restricted when one is attempting to write a book: that much is true! However, talking to people who are going through the very same challenge as you are can make an enormous difference when you’re feeling stuck. Connecting with writers’ communities all over the world on various social platforms – including Steemit (most notably, the @freewritehouse community), Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – certainly helped me to feel less isolated during my difficult moments. The continual advice, support and encouragement of writers with more #NaNoWriMo experience helped me to stay inspired and keep plugging away at my novel.
Supportive words from friends, family and my partner also kept me on track. Again, my prideful streak made me dread the thought of turning to any of them and telling them I had failed! I couldn’t be having that. 😉