What I learned from the NaNoWriMo process

The first two weeks of National November Write Month went better than expected. I managed to keep up with my target word count, more or less, or at least catch up. But then we ran into a bit of a crisis at work and my job had to take priority, with extra hours and more responsibility. Life happens.

I was in an educational program once where I had four hours of classes a day and a lot of reading to do. I don’t read very fast, and I underline and make notes at the back of my book. That’s what those nice empty white pages are for, in case you didn’t know. It’s great to go back and find the highlights of your reading at a glance.

But what I was going to say is that I had to pace myself. When I started the program I didn’t think I had the health or the energy for it. But I learned that if I devoted five hours a day to reading I managed to stay caught up. And there was no getting behind, with that amount of material to cover. After I finished my reading I would work on my papers and presentations.

With NaNoWriMo, I tried to use the same systematic approach. I had a target of 1500 words a day. Some days I was not able to do as much, but I could not allow myself to get far behind. On weekends I would catch up.

I tried not to do a lot of editing. The idea was to get words on a page.

I would have liked to be able to continue, but I value my health more than sticking with a pre-determined plan. One thing I have learned over time is that my life goes better if I pace myself instead of acting like I am super-human. So I looked at the NaNoWriMo project and said, yes, I can put this on hold for now.

The two weeks I spent on it were a lot of fun. While I was driving or cleaning or cooking I would think about my plot, what I was going to add, where I was going, what my characters needed to do, how I planned to put it all together. Then when I’d sit down I had material in my mind to work with. I eagerly anticipated getting at it.

So now I have a 20,000 word start on a new novel. If I do another two week sprint, I’ll just about be at my goal of 50,000 words. December will be a very busy month, so I don’t have high expectations, but I think I will pick it up again in January. If anyone who is reading this has ever accepted the NoNaWriMo challenge, I would love to hear of your experience.

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About tinafriesen

I am a writer, a painter/artist, musician/song writer. Writing and art and music satisfy my longing for beauty and harmony and love. My world is perfect when I am able to share these gifts with others.
This entry was posted in Fiction, Novel, Pacing, Priorities, Self-discipline, Time management, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What I learned from the NaNoWriMo process

  1. I admire you for applying what you have learned about your body. Health is so important to being able to meet any goal. For some, the deadlines and the pressure are exactly what they need to learn that they CAN produce. For others, deadlines and pressure are exactly what we need to replace with good organization and a pace we can control. My health has been remarkably better since I rearranged my life so I am the one who makes the schedules, and assigns the target dates!

    • tinafriesen says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. We need to listen to our bodies and be kind to them. Understanding how we function best is really helpful too. I like a bit of pressure, but not anxiety, and not an overload. Thank you for stopping by, and for commenting. =)

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