Final #NanoWriMo 2015 Update

nanowrimo winner badge
(Spoiler alert: This isn’t going to be one of those inspirational “I was so scared to do NanoWriMo and then I did and I succeeded, yay me!” posts but it’s not going to be an absolute downer either).

As evidenced by my sidebar, I did indeed hit the 50,000-word mark and qualify as a “winner” of NanoWriMo 2015–I hesitate to use the term winner only because it has connotations of competition, and I wasn’t treating my participation as such, so I’ll say that I’m happy I met the goal of 50,000 words. To my own astonishment, I also somehow managed to accomplish this before the end of the month.

As it is, there are still 2 days left of the competition and I am rooting for everyone who is participating this year to meet their goals. I’ve come along way from being someone who once vowed never to participate in Nano. I asked myself why any writer would put him or herself through such sheer torture, and now that I’ve been through the torture, I discovered the answer for myself, but it turns out I was right–most of my experience was painful and fraught with peril, self-doubt, anxiety and worse.

Post-Nano, I have had two writing sessions and I’m starting to slack off a little bit. Part of me thinks this isn’t so bad and in fact is kind of necessary because after almost a month of writing every single day, I think I’ve earned a bit of time off. However, the other part of me that’s fighting this is the part that is desperate to keep my momentum with this manuscript going, the part of me that knows that I don’t want to give way to another extended period of not writing, and so the two sides grappling and at odds right now.

What are some things this entire experience taught me?

  • This wasn’t the first novel I’ve written and I knew that Nano would be difficult, but I had no idea what I was in for.
  • I had to fight myself and resist the voice that always insists I do something else. A picnic this was not.
  • My success stemmed in part from not having a miserable day job hanging over my head, and I know this is not the case with most people, so just putting that out there.
  • Nano took a huge mental health toll on me–I already struggle with my demons, but I hit my breaking point twice during Nano. Climbing over those hurdles felt like moving mountains.
  • Going off social media helped me in some ways, but made me feel a little too isolated. Also, I realized YouTube is more of a time-waster for me than social media sites, which was interesting to find out.
  • Post-Nano, I’m not a speed demon who can pound out thousands of words in a day even though that’s what I did for all of Nano, which is disappointing but also a realization that I’m still finding my process and what works for me.
  • Although I still don’t have a set writing time, which is something I need to work on straightening out, I did figure out that working on a full stomach results in better output than writing when I’m sleep-deprived and hungry or anxious.
  • I surprised myself by exceeding the 1,700 words that’s recommended to write every day–and I got my writing done in one session per day, which was also a surprise. I did do multiple sessions on a few days, but I figured out I tend to work better when I limit myself to one writing session per day.
  • For the first week, I did writing exercises to warm myself up before the actual novel writing took place–this was okay at first, sort of like training wheels, but I’m glad I was able to remove them eventually.
  • It is unbelievable how much I had to force myself and push myself to write, which made me question if I even have it in me to do this anymore, but I realized this is one of the elaborate disguises that fear wears to trick us into procrastination and avoidance.
  • I know that I need to write before I hop on to the Interwebs, but I’m struggling to keep that up.
  • When I get stuck, it’s because I don’t know what happens next–or I do know but don’t have the info necessary to execute something properly and I need to do research to figure that out before I can write.

At many points, I questioned if I was participating in Nano just so I could boast about it or if it was because I genuinely wanted to improve myself as a writer and figure out what made me tick. I believe it was a mix of both, but by the end, it became more about me getting the bones of this story down and breathing life into a story that’s new territory for me. As well, this is the first non-supernatural novel I’ve worked on–something I’m still getting used to–so I’m trying to cut myself some slack in that regard.

So, will I do NanoWriMo again? I’m not a person who likes to say never, because life is unpredictable and full of surprises. While I don’t see myself participating in NanoWriMo again in the foreseeable future, for now I’m happy that I challenged and dared myself to put my money where my mouth is and to push myself as a writer in a way I’ve never done before.

What about you? How has your experience of NanoWriMo been going? Are you a die-hard participant who will most definitely be partaking in the madness next year or do you prefer to steer clear of the extravaganza altogether? For those who haven’t participated in NanoWriMo, do you have any tricks to productivity or things that help you produce more writing? Sound off below!