Saturday, 3 December 2011

NaNoWriMo Fallout!

This post is a very belated companion post to the one by Jessica at Thoughts At One In The Morning. I hope you don't mind my highjacking the post a bit Jessica :) I'm a bit brain dead at the moment.
         The good new is that I did it! November was going to be an insane month anyway regardless of NaNoWriMo. I had two weddings that I was heavily involved in, work was (and still is) complete bedlam and to top everything off, I was sick for a big chunk of the month. Still, I forced myself to find the time to write. Sometimes I'd spend whole weekends in front of the computer at the expense of friends, family and household chores. Take away was as familiar sight and I missed out on a lot of good TV. But the result is that I pushed past the 50,000 word limit and won at approximately 11:24pm on November 30th!! Woohoo!!
         NaNo has officially been over for three days and the effect is quite noticeable. I don't wake up with an impending sense of urgency or the uncontrollable urge to disregard all else but my writing. In a way it's a bit of a relief. In another way, it's really killed my momentum. So anyway, here comes the discussion on all the things I've learned:

The Good:
Without the motivation of NaNo I wouldn't have even started my novel. I keep mentioning this point because I know it's true. Usually, I suffer from a complete case of being overwhelmed by an idea to the point where I know what I want the ending to be but have no desire to go on the journey. NaNoWriMo essentially solved this problem for me. The constant pressure to keep writing ensured that I pushed past the proverbial glass wall and once the writing started it usually flowed well. The other amazing thing about NaNoWriMo is the feeling that though I was sitting cramped in my study all by myself, all over the world, other writers were doing the exact same thing and that was really comforting.

The Not So Good:
I think the pressure of making word count made me a little sick. On top of the constant cold I already had. Mostly this is due to my poor planning. I spent a great deal of time being excited about NaNoWriMo and much less time planning what I was going to write or preparing a proper plot. On the physical side of writing, sometimes I couldn't sleep because all I could think about was my story and sometimes my back really hurt from hunching over so much.

Other Observations:
-At one point, when I was 10,000 words behind with only two days to go, I considered giving up. My brain had accepted that it wasn't going to happen. My husband said it was a good effort with everything that had happened and I thought so too. Yet I continued to sit in front of the computer regardless and wrote and wrote and wrote. Lesson learned: obsessiveness pays off sometimes.
-My spelling and grammar are atrocious. Seriously. To the point where I will no longer call myself a writer. I'm a story teller masquerading behind an established and accepted means of telling said stories. Thank goodness for spell check and Google.
-No matter what I do, I cannot write a proper love triangle. Even if the characters want to go that way I just can't write two distinctive male leads. Am now contemplating a very early death for one of these guys.
-And finally, unlike other hobbies I've enjoyed only to find I hated when I tried to turn them into a business, I love telling stories. Despite the sleepless nights, the sickness, the physical discomfort. I love it.

The Verdict:
It was a wild ride. Would I do it again? For sure. Now that I'm a veteran, I know what the score is and will be much better prepared. Next year I'm going to be crazy and see if I can write an entire novel (some 80,000 words usually) in one month. I'm going to be good and start planning for it very early on indeed.

To all my fellow NaNos, whether you did or didn't win, it's been an awesome experience and I'm grateful for all your support. To all my blogger friends, thanks for putting up with my sporadic posts and comments. I feel somehow wiser all of a sudden.


  1. YAY YOU!!! I'm so excited that you finished!! WOOT!!!

    It's a great accomplishment, I'm crazy proud of you for sticking with it right to the crazy end. :) I think you'll find your ability to sit and write "on demand" drastically improved after this month, and your inner critic should have taken a good whippin'.

    Way to go, Lan! I'm seriously grinning here, I'm so happy for you. :)

  2. Oh Lan... I don't mind one bit. :)

    All good authors have horrible spelling and grammar on their first draft. I used to be so diligent with certain grammatical things, then when I went through my draft with the spelling/grammar check yesterday... OMG. When you're looking at a computer screen for too long, you mess up. If you don't mess up, I think that's when I start believing you're a robot. ;)

    I am very happy for you though! So glad you made it. ^_^

  3. Gratz! I didn't hit the mark. I stopped shorter than I did last year. It has something to do with falling behind for me. Once I loose a couple days it is like the momentum is busted. That is a serious awesome thing that you won!! You need to crack open a bottle of bubbly for yourself!

    Beth ^_^

  4. Congrats!

    I'm excited for you!

    I pretty gave up because my computer went south on me and then my moms went south as well. So for at least 2 weeks or so I didn't have a computer, and i would have been so far behind. One year though I will make it. I'm glad to see all your hardwork paid off. Now you can take it easy.

  5. Congrats you did well.
    I found it harder this year. I still had 10,000 words to do on the last day but I felt confident. Earlier in the month I was about 20k behind and I nearly gave up, everytime I caught up a little bit I would then fade even further back, but I managed to pull it back and I'm glad I did.

    I'm happy I got my story started too, but although I reached 50k I'm nowhere near the end of my story but now I don't have that pressure I keep putting it off. Hope I can get myself to focus and finish.

    So congrats but don't stop now!

  6. I think that's a great accomplishment with all the other stuff you had going on. I had a wedding I wasn't involved in and just had to show up to, and a lazy holiday and yet, I let those get in the way of me accomplishing much reading. Sigh.

  7. Congratulations Lan - awesome achievement and even awesomer results. The 'stuff i learned' section of this post that i particularly like is - your comment that in spite of the suffering and stress and exhaustion etc, you loved it. You love writing stories. Amen. 100% agree and add my exclamation marks to that statement.

  8. Oh, you DID finish/win NaNoWriMo! I was thinking from your email that you didn't, but I'm glad you did. CONGRATZ! It was just the thing to get you to start writing, so that's perfect.

    It's not really my cup of tea, but it does work for some people. I simply do not have the time nor energy to write so much in so little time, but I envy all those who can do it. I wish I could, too.

    I hear authors get faster at writing their novels when they get more under their belts, so you may find you get better at NaNo over the years, if you keep participating. So, maybe you'll be able to write that 80,000 word novel the next time!

  9. Well done, Lan! Now you have the first draft of a novel you can submit when you're ready. Give yourself a break from it now and take another look when you've done something else. And the nice thing is, when you do sell a book and they ask you, "Do you have anything else to show us?" you can say, "Actually, I do." Those are the writers who make it. :-)

  10. BJ: Thanks a lot! And congrats for winning yourself! Seeing your word counter go up really motivated me and I seriously cannot wait to read your book!

    Jessica: Phew. I'm glad you don't mind. I feel like I've been away from blogging for so long my thought process is rusty. It's funny because in my head I would think of a word, type it complete inaccurately and then when I saw the red spell check line I'd go back and manually spell it properly. I think you're right, when you're staring at a screen for that long, all grammar goes out the window.

    Beth: I know how falling behind could really demotivate you. I was like that for a few days after my sister's wedding. Luckily I'm stubborn and can't handle losing the challenge after I started. At least you now have several thousand extra words written for your novel. I am still going to pressure myself a bit just to keep going.

    Ash: If my computer died, I think I would have drawn the line and given up. Start preparing for next year with me :)

    Becky: We're in the same boat. I haven't written anything new in 4 days because all the pressure if off and like you my book is nowhere near finished. I was thinking of setting myself a 1000 word a day goal.

    Jenny: Real life is so annoying isn't it? I really feel great for winning even though my reading really took a back seat.

    Lani: I'm so relieved to have finished and won! Even on the days where I hated it, I still loved it if that makes sense.

    Cathy: Seriously, my capability to concentrate/convey what I mean has diminished completely this last month. Yep, I managed to finish, but only just. I really want to push myself next year though. I think planning is the key. Although some days I felt like it wasn't my thing at all so I know what you mean when you say it's not your cup of tea.

    Sue: I have so many story ideas in little notebooks which I never write for some silly reason. NaNo has helped me past that. I'm so glad I did.

  11. I love your lesson learned! Note to self: Obsessiveness pays off. Congrats! And I wish you huge amounts of luck doing your extreme NaNo next year!

  12. Glad to see you're back. I wont be fully back until the 13th of December but I'm so happy you reached your goal!


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