3 Lessons I Learned from NaNoWriMo

November is over! Here are the lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo.
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November is over! Here are the lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo.

November is the quickest month of the year. Yes, I know it’s just as long as many of the 12 months. Yet, with holidays and shorter days and trying to cram a writing session into any available minute, it ends as quickly as it began.

It’s my third year doing NaNoWriMo my way. So, what have I learned so far from (my version of) participating in National Novel Writing Month? Here are my three takeaway lessons I hope that you have learned too from your November writing experience.

Define Your Writing Project Early

Procrastinating on which story to write during National Novel Writing Month is a bad idea. Especially if you decide the project on Oct 31.

I’ve learned that the sooner I define which project deserves my November attention, the easier it is to define milestones and goals for the month. I put a reminder in my calendar on June 1 and August 1 to decide which story to write during NaNoWriMo. That way, I can complete necessary footwork in the summer and early autumn months to make that happen.

Set Reasonable Goals

It’s an incredible feeling of accomplishment to complete a goal that pushes me outside of my comfort zone. And it’s the complete opposite of incredible when I fail miserably at getting it done.

While it’s easy for me to get caught up in the euphoria of deciding my next writing goal, I’ve learned that I first need to peek at my calendar. Yes, I know the phrase: If you really value something, you’ll make time to do it.

Well, I really like to run. And I’ve had to push running out of my schedule this month to make time for some big commitments.

Once I know what I’m realistically capable of completing that week, I decide on how to best use my time. Sometimes it’s not the most exciting goal, but often it gets me set up to complete a more exciting ambition when the storm of my busy schedule subsides.

Doing NaNoWriMo My Way is the Best Way

I understand that the intent of National Novel Writing Month is to push myself outside of my slow-and-steady pace so that I crank out 50,000 words. In fact, I genuinely would like to do this not only to confirm that I can do it but also to have a complete draft of another story.

But why November? Why?

November is never a good month for me. It’s a month of holiday preparation, of career deadlines, of community events, of well-needed vacation time. November is the month where I try to squeeze in all my priorities.

That’s why I decided to make NaNoWriMo work for me. I dedicated the month to accomplishing my writing goals that I wouldn’t necessary have made the time for due to my blogging schedule. I focused the month on moving my writing career forward in a different – but still productive – way.

What did you learn this year from NaNoWriMo? Share you stories below.

My NaNoWriMo Round 3: Week 1

My NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Round 3: Week 1
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My NaNoWriMo Round 3: Week 1

Credit: erinmorgenstern.com

It’s every writer’s favorite month: NaNoWriMo-vember.

For the past few years, I’ve dedicated November to ramping up on my creative writing projects and documenting my progress on my blog. 2015 won’t be any different.

Well, that’s not true.

The first year of my version of NaNoWriMo, I committed to these solid rules:

  1. I choose one writing project to be my focus.
  2. I write at least 10 pages each week.
  3. I blog each week in November about my progress.

Last year, I stuck by the rules and made some serious progress on my full-length play. And as I recently reported back, I finished writing that play.

But this year’s going to be different.

I’m changing the rules. It’s not because I need the crutch. Instead, I need the new direction in order to set my writing up for success.

Before last year’s NaNoWriMo, I spent all summer outlining character arcs and plot structure for my play. When November came around, jumping into my writing project went smoothly. In fact, it was easy to go back to writing the play everyday with eager excitement.

That’s what my next writing project needs.

I could write 10+ pages on it every week and make physical progress. But that’s not the best use of my November.

In an ideal world, all of this outlining would’ve happened last summer. But it didn’t.

So for this NaNoWriMo, I’m dividing my time between two pursuits:

  1. Outlining character backstories, character arcs and plot structure
  2. Submitting my full-length play to playhouses and theatre opportunities

My goals for each weekly pursuit won’t stay consistent. I plan to state my goals in each blog post and reporting back the following week with my progress, my successes, my failures and my new goals.

My Week 1 goals are:

  1. Outline backstory for one character
  2. Submit my play to three opportunities

(If I can find the time, I’ll try to also bring back the mini road trips to the mix like last year.)

How are you spending your NaNoWriMo time this November? Share your goals below.