Shelley Widhalm

Benefits of NaNoWriMo

In Reflections on Writing, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on November 30, 2014 at 11:00 am

Though I bailed on NaNoWriMo and have guilt associated with that, I thought I would return to my old notes about last year’s experience of writing 50,000 words in 30 days by a Nov. 30 deadline.

I turned off the self-editor and simply wrote, knowing I had a goal to meet by writing 1,667 words a day or doubling up when I missed a day or two. I got absorbed in telling the story, developing my characters and carrying along the plot I briefly sketched out in order to keep moving forward.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is about discipline and just doing it, not worrying about the final draft when it’s a rough draft with lots of potential. Writing daily, or nearly every day, allows the story to unfold more organically, one scene leading to the next as you let the subconscious and your speedy fingers take over.

Anyway, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of writing daily (which I learned last year and not this year, unfortunately):

  • I didn’t forget the beginning part of my novel, my character identities or the plot strings after setting aside my draft because I got busy with life and excuses.
  • I got excited about writing after work and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen with my plot and characters.
  • I focused on word count, instead of on the story elements, and got lost in the writing, so that it felt like I was just typing away without worries about what I was producing. I just didn’t care, because all I cared about was getting to at least 1,700 words each day. Oddly, by not caring, I had more fun and let the characters take over.
  • I operated on adrenaline because I had to write my daily word dose, but I could take off a couple days because a few days I wrote 2,000 up to 3,500 words (well, that happened once). My least productive day was 700 words.

Anyway, it’s nice to see that NaNoWriMo had many benefits, so next year, I will participate in the writing event, hopefully with the real-life-experience-to-novel that got me stuck this year.

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