The NaNoWriMo Finish Line


This year, I decided to put the pedal to the metal on my next project and use NaNoWriMo to get my first draft off and running. As I mentioned in a previous post, NaNoWriMo isn’t really my thing. The writing style I strive for just doesn’t come out easily in a dead sprint. But, riding high from my last publication, I decided to jump-start NightWind.

Instead of doing the standard 1600+ words a day and shooting for the 50K goal, I decided to do a modified version of NaNoWriMo. I did this mainly because I work full-time as a writer and so sitting down for hours at a time in the evening or before work is very hard to do and also because I suffer from carpal tunnel in both hands so I have to be careful and not overextend myself too much with the typing. Additionally, I believed that if I gave myself an achievable goal, then I’d more likely stick with it and find success.So, my goal for the month was 30,000, still a respectable start on a new draft and on days when I wrote more than 1,000 words, I could give myself a hearty pat on the back.
While I did get a good deal of words on paper this month, and ultimately crossed that 30K mark this evening, I also realized something significant. Over time, writing became a habit. I grew more accustomed to the routine I was setting and also more successful. 1,000 words came faster and faster each time. And yes, I did have off days where meeting that thousand was tough. Did I write every day? No. Because life. I’m balancing a full-time job, 4 workouts a week at the gym, my author hobby and just doing normal life things (friends, book club, time with my boyfriend, etc.)
Here are a few things I did to set myself up for success:
  1. Pre-wrote blog posts for the month so I didn’t have to spend time putting together new content and could simply focus on my first draft.
  2. Took the entire month of October to world build and create characters. This meant I had a decent road map to follow and wasn’t slowed down because I didn’t know where I was ultimately going with my story.
  3. Reminded myself that this is a first draft and that I can revise and do all the pretty word things I like later. But right now, just get the story out. This is a real challenge for me and one of the reasons why I’ve been prone to abandon projects in the past. if I’m not producing at the level I feel that I should be, then I get frustrated. I think I’m getting better about this now though.
  4. Explained to friends on occasion that I was doing NaNoWriMo and asked if we could catch up in December instead. At first, I felt bad doing this. But really no one seemed to mind and they absolutely understood. Success!
  5. Dedicated time every evening to the project.
Overall, I think using NaNoWriMo to get new projects going really worked well for me and I would be inclined to do it again in the future. If you haven’t considered yourself a good NaNoWriMo candidate in the past, doing a modified version like I did might be something to consider. I had a goal and a routine which helped with the motivation and my ultimate success.
Have you done NaNoWriMo? Did you do the full 50K, or did you do your own challenge? Please share your experiences in the comments!
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3 thoughts on “The NaNoWriMo Finish Line

  1. I did NaNoWriMo in my first year of college; the end result wasn’t a great story, but it showed me I *could* write a novel-length story. And now my first book is coming out next year, and I have other finished novel drafts waiting for edits, so I’d say it worked pretty well in the end!
    Right now, I’m actually doing a modified NaNo-esque project like you just did; I’ve been asked to write a novella at a minimum of 30k words, so after brainstorming it the past month or so, I’m now trying to write on it every day, at least a thousand words if possible. Probably won’t hit it every day (thanks full-time retail), but putting in the effort as much as possible is what counts.

  2. I actually did a very amended version when working on my dissertation in graduate school. I’m a slow writer so my goal was to do 500 words per day, 5 days per week. I found it was very helpful to keep a spreadsheet in which I recorded the total word count for each chapter at the end of each day. This helped me visualize the progress and kept me motivated!

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