Reflecting On NaNoWriMo

So…How Did NaNoWriMo Go?

Now, what if you didn’t quite make those goals you bravely set for yourself in October? This is a good time to give serious thought as to what held you back. As November finishes up, we wanted to check in and see how the NaNoWriMo challenge went for you. This annual November event challenges writers to complete a 50,000-word new novel in thirty days.

Did you achieve the goals you set for yourself, or a part of them? No matter what percentage of your writing goals you achieved, now is the time to congratulate yourself for the effort that you made and then reflect on what did and didn’t work for you.

If you finished your novel, congratulations! You’ve completed the first step of the process—a draft with characters and a plot. For the next step, consider setting your draft aside until January or February in order to give yourself some distance from it. Go back in January and begin your second draft, with a focus on plot, pacing and character development. It is still too early, at this point, to work on line edits and polishing the language—that will come in the third or fourth draft. It’s important to note that 50,000 words are not enough for a traditional, commercial novel—you need at least 80,000 words to have a marketable manuscript. There is still a lot of work ahead of you, but you have completed the hardest step—getting the initial words on the page or screen. Nice work!

Did you freeze when you sat down at your computer and jumped to Tik-Tok videos instead? If so, try some free-writing exercises to help you get started and the words flowing.

Did you have a hard time finding the time to write? To successfully complete NaNoWriMo, most writers needed to set aside approximately two hours per day. If you have a job, family, or any other commitments, this is a big goal. Perhaps aim a bit smaller—maybe start with just 15 minutes a day of free-writing or some other kind of writing exercise to establish a routine. Once you find your writing rhythm, it will be easier to tackle the challenge of a first draft.

This applies to word count as well—finishing the challenge required writing close to 2,000 words per day. Again, that’s a lot of words! Consider lowering it to 500 per day, or break your daily (or weekly goal) down by chapters, scenes, or even paragraphs.

No matter where  you landed with your writing in November, take a minute and feel good about it. Let the pressure go—writing is supposed to be enjoyable—and set new goals for 2022. Remember, you don’t need to wait until next November to finally start that project. Consider some of our services—mentoring, coaching or workshops—to jumpstart those resolutions in January.

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