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7 Things I Learned About Myself Doing NaNoWriMo

26 Nov

NaNoWriMo is almost over for the rest of the world, but it ended for me a week ago, on the 19th. I hit 52,872 words and declared my first draft ‘finished.’ It was an awesome feeling and now, with a week’s worth of space, I’m ready to reflect on what I learned about myself.

  1. When I want to, I can type a lot. I did a ton of word sprints during NaNo. In 15 minutes, I could pound out 600-1,100 words. On average it hit 900. You can disagree, but I’m going to say that’s kind of a lot. I’m making no claim as to the quality of said words, but they get down on the page.
  2. I have a tendency to skip major holidays. In science fiction this doesn’t matter, but my NaNo was the second instance of me following a calendar and skipping over Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other commonly celebrated holidays. I don’t think of them when outlining and my blinders go up and I skip them. Luckily I’ve realized it and I go back and fill them in. That contributed to my last 5,000 words of NaNo.
  3. I’m very motivated by deadlines. My first WIP ended up being 49,000 words and that took me about seven months. Why? No deadline, no push to finish. The pressure and competitive nature of NaNo pushed me to finish well before the deadline and without it seeming like too much of a chore.
  4. Social writing is highly productive. I think part of what kept me plodding along with my first WIP is that there wasn’t anyone pushing me to finish it. Since that time, I’ve¬†joined writers groups and made friends who share my interest in writing. Having those around me who are writing makes me want to write. We can write together, we can bounce ideas off of each other, we can recommend books. It’s wonderful. Having the community of NaNo was an even greater boost. My fellow Novel Girls are on board and we were able to back each other up the entire time and I thank them for their support and I promise to be waiting at the finish line to see them over the line.
  5. I don’t need an outline as badly as I thought I did. That’s right, highly organized and slightly OCD Sam doesn’t need an outline! Some of what I think are the best parts of my draft were nowhere in my outline. Truthfully, I didn’t reference my outline very often. I knew where the plot needed to go and it just went there. I was familiar enough with my story to keep on track. I need to trust myself more.
  6. I am not looking forward to editing. I have this love/hate relationship with everything I write. I know that a lot of it is terrible and needs a ton of work, but it’s so hard for me to see my work go down the toilet that editing is an emotional experience. As I wrote this story, I was thinking about how much it would need to be edited and how much I’m dreading that process. I’m letting the story sit now and I’m saying it’s because I want the distance, when in truth it’s because I hate it but don’t want to hurt/edit it.
  7. My characters are a lot like me. At least, this first time through they are. Maybe it was the word sprinting but I found that my character, who started based on someone I used to work with, became more like me as her character developed. Her character development was slightly autobiographical, except for the Alaska part and the baby part, but I’d hoped I could separate myself from the writing enough to not see myself in her. When I go through that terrible editing process, I’ll have to make sure that she finds her own unique voice apart from mine.

For those of you who have finished, what did you learn about yourselves? Will you do NaNo again? Let me know, Reader!

Until next time, write on.