Four writing lessons learned from doing NaNoWriMo


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I started out the day today being behind in my word count. Not by much, however. Just the same,  it was still worrying me. After being ahead by at least two days, it was a bit crazy to be behind by a couple of hundred words. Covering the election completely rearranged my world. Days after the election, the last thing I wanted to do was to write.

As a result, I took some time last night and grinded out some words. As I approached my word count for the day, I noticed something. I was almost done with the first half of the story. I may be done at around 20,000 – 25,000 words but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the first tunnel. I remember this feeling. It took me months to have it while writing my thesis. Now it’s taken me 15 days to feel it. It’s weird that that has happened.

So I wanted to share some lessons so far about writing and the marathon race that is novel writing I’ve learned in 15 days.  The videos will also be helpful, especially the bottom one.

1) The devil is in the details but you can leave the smaller ones for later.
I think my protagonist has two different last names. The place where she works has changed. But I don’t care! I can change all of that in the revision process. Yes, that process that will happen after you’re done writing this thing because it’s so not ready to be seen by the world. So I take solace in that. There will be a revision process so for now just write.

2.) Sometimes you just have to write through it.
Last night I fell asleep writing. Literally in mid sentence I was face down on my keyboard. It would have made a great picture! I was only able to do 500 words but that’s 500 more than what I had before. The day before, I was also tired and I just wrote through it. The lesson here, in case you haven’t learned it, butt in seat fingers on keyboard.

3.) Let the characters tell you what to do.
Yes there’s this big outline that you spent lots of time working on. For me, the outline has since been replaced with the awesomeness that is now on the page. The big bullet points are still there but the journey to get to them is now different. The characters tell me what’s next and how the conversation and the dialogue will go. This just reminded me that we as writers are really not as powerful as we think when it comes to bending characters to our will.

4.) You’be be amazed what you can do in 15 minutes.
I can average 500-600 words now in 15 minutes.  Up from 400 when I started on Nov. 1. When you know you have 15 minutes, you get to working. Wonder how I can apply this to other things? 15 minute chores, anyone?

So I’m behind in my word count but it’s nothing that a good word war couldn’t fix. Where are you in NaNoWriMo land? Let me hear from you!

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2 thoughts on “Four writing lessons learned from doing NaNoWriMo

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