Reflections on NaNoWriMo

nano_09_winner_120x240Phew, it’s over. I did it. I wrote 50,000 words (50,044, to be exact) and made a novel with a beginning, middle and end in one month. And what did I win? The picture you can see in this post and a certificate I can print out and fill out myself. Not even personalized. But, of course, I got more than that. I learned a few things from doing NaNoWriMo.

I learned that I have a lot of determination and can do most things I set my mind to. Some people have seen this in me before (my husband has been telling me it for years), but I consider myself much more of a doubter. I like to hedge my bets and always lay out the possibility that I will fail, so as to prepare others  not to expect too much of me, but also to not set myself up for too big a fall. So, normally, when I got the H1N1 followed by pneumonia four days after starting NaNoWriMo and couldn’t write anything for a full week, I would have said, “oh, I really wanted to do NaNo but, with everything else going on this month, I’m way too far behind to catch up.  I’ll keep trying and we’ll see.” Might have thrown in a “doesn’t look good”. But after I got well enough to sit up and write again, I didn’t say that. I said, “I can catch up and I’m going to do it.” I didn’t have a doubt I could or would do it. If it meant staying up every night until 1:30 or 2:00 writing, I would get it done and there were a good few of those nights, especially in the last week. If you could see me, you’d see those nights in the ugly, black circles under my eyes. But look up above those circles and you’d see a bit of pride in those eyes. Not that I wrote the 50,000 words, but that I didn’t doubt myself.

I learned that I can write a full novel on a keyboard. I also learned that I don’t like it. I found myself longing to write with a pen and notebook. But I needed to keep a word count and pen and notebooks take up a lot of time manually counting the words so I typed into my Alphasmart Neo. I don’t know how people do NaNo on laptops or dekstop computers. My Neo went everywhere with me and I could type almost anywhere. Well, except the bathtub. I love writing in the bathtub but I didn’t trust myself not to drop my Neo in the water (although, from what I hear, a good drying out and that thing would run perfectly again–another reason to love the Neo).

I learned that writing (almost) every day, does make you write more and it does make the creative side of your brain work more. Now, maybe it’s my usual creative procrastination, but I thought of three new ideas for books while writing my NaNo novel and jotted notes to remember my ideas about them. They’ll be going in notebooks soon to see how they feel and if the characters talk to me enough for me to know I want to hang with them for a few months or years. I think I’m going to try to write more often and not hold back the muse as much (now, see, that was the kind of doubt-filled statement I’m used to).

I learned that I might not do NaNo again. Right now, I have no great urge to do it again. It was just something I wanted to prove to myself I could do and I did. I came out of it with a 50,044 word novel that is really, really not good. I know it’s not supposed to be good, but there were many times during the process when I kept thinking that I would either never look at this manuscript again or look at it only as an outline, that if I wanted to write this story (and I would like to), I should ignore the NaNo novel and start out new. So, I’m not sure it’s a great use of my time, this 50,000 crappy words in a month (check out this cartoon at Will Write for Chocolate). It’s been a good use of my time this year, since it helped me learn all these things and again, to prove it to myself that I can do it, but I’m not sure doing it another year is something I need or want to do.

So, it’s been quite a November, what with writing the 50,000 words, promoting my new book, the women’s work contest (winners will be picked and revealed soon), H1N1, pneumonia, sinus infection, H1N1 lineups for vaccinations, birthdays, and just the regular day to day. Now, that it’s all done, though, I can relax. What? How long until Christmas? Oh, crap! Gotta go!

5 thoughts on “Reflections on NaNoWriMo

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