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Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Top ten list of things I learned from participating and winning

Top 10 things I learned by winning NaNoWriMo

That's right, on my first attempt, I managed to write over 50,000 words in one month.
No plotting, no planning, no character developing, just pen to paper (or in this case, fingers to keyboard) and voila, done. (okay, a little less on the voila and a little more on the sweating like a small business owner on audit day)
So now I will share with you what I've learned from this experience.

#1 - Life doesn't seem to care one smidgen that you've planned to devote an entire month to writing, and if the powers-that-be do in fact care, they show it by putting as many obstacles in your way as possible. Despite all of that, I did it.

#2 - When I write by the seat of my pants, it's crap. I wouldn't even read this story - there's nothing to it. The characters are weak, the storyline is all over the place and the writing gives a bad name to writing. It plays out kind of like a soap opera. But I did it.

#3 - Character Development is apparently my forte, according to Drew Nicholson. This does not work if you don't plot your characters BEFORE you write your story. When I don’t develop my characters ahead of time, they wind up as one-dimensional as a paper cut-out. Regardless, I did it.

#4 - Telling people "Hey I wrote a novel in a month. Oh no, no, no, I'm not going to publish it, it's crap. But I wrote a novel in month!" will have them look at you like you escaped from an insane asylum. Or perhaps just think that you are plain stupid. But I did it.

#5 - Putting your good sense aside, and writing even though you know you could dry your words out to fertilize the lawn, is quite difficult for a perfectionist. But I did it.

#6 – Waiting until the last day, then writing 10k+ words thus producing a red and swollen blister on your wrist is probably not the best way to go… But I did it.

#7 – All those tips and rules and tricks you read about in those “how to” writing books completely disappear when the actual writing starts. I believe that when I re-read those books now, the information will stick far better with the NaNo experience under my belt… but during the first process, it was hell. Regardless… I did it.

#8 – For those who pester me, that I never finish what I start, (specifically, my own conscience) Screw you! I did it.

#9 – I’m in awe of the creative things that come out of my head when I’ve got to get those words down. At times it was downright scary, but I did it.

#10 – Winning NaNoWriMo does not make you an amazing author, it does not mean you have mastered the art, it does not give you the next great internationally renowned novel, it does not mean you will be famously published one day – but it’s a step in the right direction, and I did it!

A huge Congratulations to all of you who DID IT too 


  1. Congrats on winning NaNo. Um, did you know it's perfectly acceptable to plot out your NaNo novel and stuff beforehand? Because it is. :)

  2. Thanks Cherie!

    I did know I could plot and outline before hand, but wanted to see what would come of the pantser approach. I learned a LOT. :)

  3. First of all, congratulations! Next, I would tell you NOT to throw away what you've done, because no matter how bad it seems, there is stuff in there that you will be able to use at some time in your future. I learned this from experience.

  4. Thanks Drachma :)
    I have no plans of throwing it away. When I can get my printer working properly, I'll print it out and stack it way somewhere, to look back on one day and hopefully say "Man ,I've come a long way" :)

  5. Congrats! I'm always really impressed with those who can write 50k in a month, and just doing it really proves something. Maybe someday I'll do it too.

  6. Jenna, it wasn't at all what I thought it would be. Flipping to the frame of mind of "Just write!" is pretty crazy.
    Thanks for the congrats! :)

  7. Congratualtions! 50,000 of anything is daunting, but when it's a word count - holy crap.

    I did NaNo two years ago, but haven't since. That time, I had the same thing - I finished, but ended up with a big steaming pile of plot-holes, clich├ęs, and a story that was actually over by word # 20,000.

    However. One thing that NaNo does, and does well, is get you writing every day - and it breaks the sometimes strangling self-editor that should only be turned loose once your draft is done.

    Well done, Nina!

  8. Hi Chris!

    I think because I sprinted and did most of that sprinting at the end, that I didn't get that routine down one bit, Le Grande Sigh...

    I did manage to fight long enough with my self-editor to shut her up, though :)

    Congrats on your previous win, and Thank You!

  9. That is a stellar list. I'm taking notes. Hopefully I can participate for the first time next year.

    Thanks for the follow! I gave you a shout-out on my blog today. :)

  10. that this novel benigning learner so he get up this pratical life about enjoy own and disucssion on wnning new gols

  11. Really enjoyed this :) I referred people to this post in my own NaNoWriMo post where I discussed how agents feel about the event. Here it is if you want to see:
    Thanks again for sharing!

  12. play bazaar

    play bazaar If you choose not to, people may not trust you and that makes your business look bad.