4 Things I Learned From Not Finishing NaNoWriMo


It’s hard to believe it’s already December 1! Where has the year gone? Heck, where did November go? It was just a few weeks ago that NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, started and sadly it’s already over. As you know, I signed up with the best of intentions, knowing that November was a particularly busy one for me. Between prepping for my book launch, the presidential elections, Thanksgiving travel and previously scheduled writing assignments, I knew that trying to write 50,000 words in a new novel would be problematic.

Indeed, I fell far short of my goal. I discovered that while I’m great at giving advice (don’t get discouraged, just keep writing, don’t worry about the plot), I’m not as good as taking it myself. 

I made a few other discoveries along the way, as well.

1. No, there will never be “free” time to write. If it’s not my priority, it won’t be any one else’s priority either.

2. My WIP (work in progress) does have some plot holes I need to figure out. I also need to do some research because that will have an impact on the way the story unfolds. 

3. Whether I planned it or not (not, being the operative word), I find I’m challenging myself with each Achdus Club entry. This is a really good thing. As writers we need to keep pushing ourselves and our work. We need to continue to grow and strength our writing. We need to learn new storytelling techiques and new ways to express our characters thoughts and fears. 

4. Rather than being intimidating, opening up a new blank writing document signals the start of something amazing. It’s the promise of a fresh start, of unlimited possibilities and the chance to keep bettering myself. I love each new story beginning. It’s only as I let my inner critic take over, figure after the first three thousand words or so that I really start to worry. By 10,000 words I’m questioning if there’s even a story worth telling. Maybe the trick is to treat each part of the story as it’s own beginning, middle and end. Perhaps if I work in individual “segments” (sort of like the three-act structure in screenwriting) it might be easier to quell my inner critic.

I maintain that NaNo is a great way for creative writers to get into the groove of writing daily and making it a priority. That alone is worth the price of admission, whether you’ve reached the 50,000 word milestone or not.

Will I participate again next year? Perhaps, but I know I’ve already learned the most important lesson — just keep on writing.

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