NaNo 2018: Lessons Learned

Well, November is finally over. Did you spend it writing? How did you do? I hope you did better than me! I barely got to 13k. But that’s 13k more than I had on October 31st. Every year I’ve done this has presented new challenges and this year was no exception. So here are some personal lessons learned.

1. Pantsing gets me nowhere.

Every year I fly by the seat of my pants and every year I fail to reach 50k words. I think that a handful of characters and an idea are enough to get me going on a new story, but every year I fizzle out by week 2. The one year I got anywhere close to winning was the year I started 4 days late with an old outline for a final story in a fanfiction trilogy I’ve been writing for longer than I care to admit (though I’ve probably confessed it elsewhere on the blog). I need to research and plan well in advance if I want to stand a prayer of winning.

2. Work is going to ramp up. It just is.

November is a hectic time for my company. People start taking vacations for the holidays and corporate starts to panic over lost revenue. The customer does the same. So they push for OT to try to catch up/get ahead before the final weeks of the year when they know no one is going to be around to work. Even if I don’t work that much OT, it’s still dark by 4:30 and feels much later than it is even if I leave by 5. I just want to curl up and sleep after dinner.

3. Write-ins are great, actually.

I didn’t get to as many as I wanted to, which is something I’ve said in years past, the difference being this year I actually wanted to go to more than one whereas previous years I only wanted to go to one. My MLs are amazing. They make up a bingo card and have candy and prizes and are all around encouraging and very engaging. They love being out with other writers and they make everyone feel welcome. I look forward to writing with them again.

4. Life is going to get in the way. That said, don’t make a huge lifestyle change in the middle of NaNoWriMo.

Yeah, moving into a new house threw a huge wrench in the writing plans. Even though I knew it was coming and thought I could manage it, I was still in way over my head. And then there’s the traveling I do every year over the Thanksgiving holiday. Whether to my mom’s or my MIL’s, I’m never home for that long weekend. And then there’s my health. I’ve been more lucky this year than past years, haven’t caught any of the bugs that are going around, but invariably something will come up.

5. Don’t get discouraged, keep up the fight and just keep writing.

When I realized I wasn’t likely to reach 50k, I changed my goal to writing for 30 days straight. I figured, even if it was only a couple hundred words a night, I would have no zero days. I would have my laptop with me over the holiday and I would make time to get away from my family for at least an hour a day to write. I think I mentioned this in my halfway post on the 17th.

Unfortunately, after traveling back home on the 18th, I got a migraine that night. I was miserable, and not just because my head felt like it was trying to split open or my stomach wanted to turn itself inside out. I was miserable because I knew I wasn’t going to get any words written that night. My new goal of 30 days in a row of writing evaporated with that headache.

I plucked myself up the next morning and, after work, went to the bookstore to meet with my local Wrimos for another write-in. I was dejected, but I still felt encouraged to keep writing because they were there still writing away despite whatever else was going on in their lives. It was the last night I updated my word count.

I convinced myself it didn’t make sense to keep trying when my goals had become unreachable and there was too much else going on in my life. I decided to enjoy my holiday and if I found myself writing, so be it. There was still one day left I was definitely going to be writing, no matter what.

6. Mark Twain’s library is beautiful and writing in it is a worthwhile experience every writer should do at least once.

Last night, for the final night of NaNo, I went to the Mark Twain House for a paid event with another writer friend to spend three hours in his library with my laptop and the bubbling fountain in the conservatory. It was incredible. I didn’t get a whole lot more written for Todd’s story, but I did get through a block I had on my fanfiction rewrite. Between the two stories, I wrote probably 1300 words in those three hours. Not sure if any of them were good words, but they were words!

That does it for this post-NaNo update. I will have another tomorrow as I sort out my posting schedule for the rest of this year. (My prompt book is still in a box somewhere, I forget which one, lol!) Have a great afternoon!

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