4 lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo

12568477564_204b7341ba_zFor those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place during November. Essentially the goal is to write 50,000 words by the end of the month. This equates to 1667 words per day. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you fall behind, it can be challenging to catch up. Not everyone ends up writing the full 50,000 words, and some end up writing 100,000 or more. If you’ve ever considered writing a story, I’d definitely encourage you to try NaNo next year. It was a really great experience and a lot of fun. I wanted to share a few things I learned during my experience.

1. Find what works for you.
When I started NaNo, I already had an idea for my story. I created an outline and a couple of character profiles. Having a clear outline for my story allowed me to write things as they unfolded, while knowing that it fit into my overall structure. One of my favourite quotes is “over-prepare, then go with the flow” as it accurately describes what I do every day. However, a lot of people are extremely successful by just writing what comes to mind. The most important thing is to use your strengths to your advantage.

2. Keep moving forward.
I love the quote from Finding Nemo where Dory tells Marlin to ‘just keep swimming’. Writing 50,000 words can be quite daunting and overwhelming if you look at how much needs to be done. There were many times during the month that I was tired of writing, tired of my characters, feeling stuck in the story, and wanting to quit. There were even a few days I didn’t write anything. But I kept on going and it was completely worth it in the end.

3. Ignore your inner critic.
I edit my blog posts a lot before they see the light of day. This is good because I definitely need to fix grammar, spelling, and such. However, writing 1667 words a day doesn’t leave much room for rewriting and editing. You have to ignore your inner critic and just keep writing.

4. If something isn’t working, take a break.
While the overall experience of NaNo was awesome, there were moments when I felt as if my story was going nowhere. Even trying to power through didn’t help. At times like these, its best to take a small break and do something completely unrelated. I’d usually make myself a cup of tea and gaze out the window. It helped me relax and I felt refreshed and energized to keep writing. Breaks, especially for introverts, are life savers.

Did you do NaNoWriMo this year? Do you have any tips for writing?

Image credit: “Reading” by Pedro Ribeiro Simões is licensed under CC by 2.0


7 thoughts on “4 lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo

  1. VocareMentor says:

    I’m a blogger, but never really considered myself a writer. Still I enjoy the challenge of coming up with posts that mean something to me and hopefully others find worth their time reading. In regards to NaNoWriMo – my daughter pulled off 50,000+ words last month. I’m so proud of her and the effort I know it took to keep at it and get it done. – Tips?? – I guess maybe: It’s better to have tried and failed, than to have never tried at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ally says:

      That’s awesome she made it to 50,000+! It definitely takes a lot of perseverance. That’s also a great tip. I think that many tend to hold back from trying something new because they’re afraid of failing. I know I do this. But if we just give it a shot, the end result can be pleasantly surprising, and you have another new experience to think back on 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 2mostrareaffections says:

    I loved Nano! The best part was proving to myself that I could reach 50,000 in 30 days, because I didn’t know that about myself. You’re right that the breaks are really important. I have to spend a lot of time brainstorming, and I constantly had to take breaks to brainstorm. That took up a lot of time, which could be discouraging, but it had to happen. Silencing the inner critic was an important lesson to learn too. My biggest writing tip is to find a friend to do it with you, or at least to support you! I had a good friend doing the challenge as well, and it was so helpful to have support and someone to bounce ideas off of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      I agree, it was so much fun and so rewarding. That’s a great tip, I didn’t have any close friends doing NaNo, but I chatted back and forth with a few people I met on the website, and we were able to share chapters and encourage each other. It really helped a lot. So glad you had a good experience 🙂


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