NaNoWriMo: How Did it Go?
By Catrin Lawrence
For the last few weeks, I’ve been taking part in my first ever National Novel Writing Month, a yearly challenge where writers aim to get 50,000 words of a novel done during November.
I wrote an article about NaNoWriMo at the start of the month, which you can find on Waterfront’s website. Before I began, I was nervous about whether I’d reach that 50,000-word goal. At the time of writing this article, I’m almost halfway through. Will I win NaNoWriMo?
Reader, I don’t think I will. But is that the most important part?
Despite not ‘winning’ the challenge, I’ve still learnt a lot about how I write and the novel I’m currently working on. It’s taught me about motivation (or writing through a lack of it), what I want out of my novel and what I need to change (or not) to achieve it.
I’ve always been the kind of writer who works through bursts of inspiration. A cool sentence or line of dialogue will enter my head, I’ll write it down, get excited and write a few hundred more words. This is going great; I’ll think to myself. Soon I’ll have a whole first draft under my belt!
Then I’ll stop. And the words won’t return.
I couldn’t wait around for inspiration during NaNoWriMo, otherwise my novel would never have got off the ground. In October, I semi-planned what I wanted to write, something I’d recommend to anyone who wants to try NaNoWriMo next year. It makes it easier to just get going if you know what your plot is.
Since I knew what I was writing, I had no excuse to take my hands off the keyboard. On the NaNoWriMo website, you have the option of updating your word count every day. This became a form of positive reinforcement, as I strove to always write something, anything just to see that blue line reach further across the screen.
The badges were even more addictive. I was like a kid in primary school, buzzing with excitement every time I got a badge for updating my word count, or reaching a certain amount of words. I felt the joy that I normally feel at writing something in the moment of inspiration. Even though I’ll no doubt edit a lot of it later, I feel proud that I’ve written so much at all.
The second thing I’ve learnt is not to do with how I write, but what I’m writing. My NaNoWriMo project is a fantasy horror novel I’ve been developing and rewriting for ten years. The plot has changed multiple times, but I’ve finally settled on one that I’m happy with.
Before NaNoWriMo, I’d write the first chapter, sometimes even the first three, then snag on a plot hole. Without knowing how to solve it, I’d just start on a different version of the same novel, the cycle of not getting anywhere starting once more.
Writing past the first chapter of my novel has given me a better idea of what I want out of it. NaNoWriMo has helped me to answer major questions I had about the plot and worldbuilding. I’ve had to murder some darlings, but they’ll always be there for another novel.
NaNoWriMo is the best thing that’s happened to my writing, not because of the amount I’ve written, but the lessons I’ve learnt along the way. It’s made me a more productive writer, helped me to understand what I want out of my novel, and overall been an amazing experience.
Catch me taking part next year!
Sneak Peek of Unknown Aspects by Catrin Lawrence
She ran back through the dark, not caring about roots, not caring about falls. The moon was up, and she’d been out for far, far too long, listening to a crazy boy’s story about his history reading.
So what if there was a time when the Mistress of Air disappeared? It happened so many times, across so many centuries. A hundred years meant nothing to a woman who couldn’t die.
But it did if the Sect was hiding every trace of it.