My NaNoWriMo experience

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The month of November is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo as it is more commonly known.

NaNoWriMo is an annual challenge where every year participants aim to write 50,000 words during November and this year, I was one of those participants.

I have known about NaNoWriMo for a few years now, but I have never actually committed to taking part. I have always made the excuse that I didn’t have time and that I was too busy to write 50,000 words, but this year I decided to stop making that excuse and just try it. What harm was there in trying?

Don’t get me wrong, 50,000 words are not easy to write in 30 days but it is certainly doable.

NaNoWriMo is the perfect time to write the first draft of a novel. I have wanted to write a novel for a few years now so decided this year was going to be the year that I started it. 

I didn’t have a great start to the month and fell behind a lot on the word count. This was down to assignments for university that was due that I prioritised over my writing. 

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Although I fell behind, I still kept going. I knew that there was a good chance that I wouldn’t hit 50,000 words by the end of the month but I had to at least try.

The daily average to hit the 50,000-word target was 1667 words, but my target was sitting at over 2,000 words most days as I didn’t have a great start.

2,000 words is a lot of words to try and find time to write. Even the 1667 words will be a lot for most people.

On November 27 I had around 41,000 words which meant I was 4,000 words away from where I was meant to be for the day and had just four days left of November. Thankfully on that day my regional group was hosting an All-Writer.

Just before the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I joined a regional group where I spoke to writers from my area. The group held weekly write-in events where people would have the chance to write with others virtually.

I hadn’t managed to join any before the All-Writer as I had been busy but decided I had to join that particular event.

The All-Writer is a 24-hour writing event where the aim is to start writing at 8:00 a.m. and finish the next morning at 8:01 a.m. I joined the event around 8:00 p.m. after finishing work and decided I was going to hit 50,000 within the next 12 hours.

I did it. I won NaNoWriMo.

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To me, winning NaNoWriMo was a huge achievement. 50,000 words in a month is a lot of words. To put that amount of words into perspective The Great Gatsby is around 50,000 words.

With November now over I feel a part missing from my day to day life. I am not writing every single day to contribute to my daily NaNoWriMo word count, and I miss it.

With that being said, I am not done with writing what I started during November. My first draft is far from being complete.

I am putting my draft away for a month and will revisit it in January with fresh eyes. I want to continue where I left off and work on my novel to an extent where it could be publishable.

There are many books out there that were once a NaNoWriMo project, some of those books didn’t even reach 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo but are now completed and on shelves for people to buy. 

NaNoWriMo gave me a first draft that I may never have started if I hadn’t taken part. While it wasn’t easy, it certainly was something I’m glad I did.

The challenge taught me not to be such a perfectionist. A first draft isn’t going to be perfect, but I wanted it to be. I didn’t have time to delete multiple paragraphs of text and rewrite it better, I had to just accept that it wasn’t perfect and move on.

It also taught me a lot of other things such as the importance of planning both my novel and time to write it as I feel that was my downfall of the month.

I was part of the 21% of participants who managed to reach 50,000 words by the end of November. Those who didn’t manage are still winners in my eyes, just participating in NaNoWriMo alone is an amazing achievement.

For those who have never taken part in NaNoWriMo before and wanted to or even those who may not have heard of it, but want to write a book I couldn’t recommend it more. You never know, by the end of the month you might just have the first draft of a novel.

Read more about NaNoWriMo here:

Feature Image Credit: NaNoWriMo

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Lifestyle Editor / Third year journalism student

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