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How have you benefited from NaNoWriMo?

Discussion in 'NaNoWriMo' started by NRuhwald, Jul 28, 2021.

  1. NRuhwald

    NRuhwald Scribe

    I've never participated in this, because I didn't think anything written in that short of a time period would be, well, worth reading. But then I realized it is actually quite possible to spit out 2000+ reasonably decent word in a day (and first drafts are supposed to be bad anyway.) So I'm thinking about participating this year.

    So my question is to all of you who have done it. Is it a good way to spit out a first draft really quickly? Did you learn other things during the process?
  2. Lynea

    Lynea Sage

    The NaNo experience kinda depends on various life factors, but essentially it is a good way to spit out a novel because the mindset behind it is to silence your inner-editor and just crank out the words without overthinking. I've also learned by participating in past NaNos that it's a great way to start making connections within the writing business. You don't have to rise to the top or be a lucky winner in order to do it, you just sign up, introduce yourself as an author, and voila. Instant writing community.

    Of course, there are a lot of sponsors and partners that work with NaNo to help people along the way, but the most helpful NaNo partners I've come to know are The Book Doctors, who host regular book pitch events and have a great YouTube channel that you can rely on as an aspiring author.

    So I say go for it!
  3. NRuhwald

    NRuhwald Scribe

    Oh interesting! I hadn't considered the networking aspect of it. I will definitely have to investigate.
  4. Lynea

    Lynea Sage

    Yeah, I think that’s the big pull of NaNo, that you can find plenty of support and resources for whatever project it is. :)
  5. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

    I'm a firm believer that any sort of work on a craft or hobby, no matter how crappy it turns out, still can teach you things. Making myself write 1,667+ words every day meant there was a lot of "uhhhh we're gonna sit around and talk about what happened" scenes because I needed to spin the wheels and hoped I came up with something better. A lot of fanfiction/webnovels that have to post updates every week (or even every day) has a lot of this filler junk. But even in those filler convos YOU are learning things about your characters, how they feel about certain situations etc. And there's a reason there's a lot of scenes like this in reality tv shows, because it explicitly tells the audience how people feel about things. That's fine for tv, especially when they need to artificially set up these scenes to convey something that happened when the camera crews weren't around, but it shouldn't be in your final product. But that doesn't mean that there's no value to you making it.

    50k is a really weird word count, tbh, since most debut published novels are more like 60k, and 40k and below is novella territory, but 1,667 words/day is manageable for a lot of people, which is probably why they picked it and not based on actual publishing trends. But it is long enough that you probably will need to do some sort of outlining or planning or you'll have to hone your instinct as to where to go if you're a pure pantser. Feel free to use this as an excuse to try something radically different from what you normally do: different POV, different type of narrator, different format, the number of characters, genre, etc. Nowadays I do these sorts of experiments with fanfiction because I only need to write a few thousand words and I can rely on the source material to do the work for me for the stuff I'm not playing with.

    If you've never written something this long before, or even finished a first draft of something, then I suggest you try it out, but don't feel bad if you find you can't do it because life gets in the way or something. If you do "fail," then try to figure out why that happened and what you can try next time to keep that from happening. A really important part of writing that a lot of people forget about is that you need to be nice to yourself and give yourself breaks and let yourself walk away from something to recharge. Writing that much every single day is really tiring, there's a reason why people don't begin working out by running a marathon.
  6. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

    I've done it twice now, and it was a very valuable experience for me. I've documented my first go here: Lessons from NaNoWriMo | Roderick Donatus

    A few things I learned:
    - It taught me my writing process. I think this is by far the most valuable thing you can take away from NaNo. If you commit, then it will teach you a lot about how you write. For me, when I started I tried to pants it (as in, just sit down and write with a few ideas in my mind and see where I end up). I noticed that I ran out of steam and after three or four chapters I had no idea what to write. So, I started outlining, which caused my productivity to go up a lot. I also learned that I like having a goal to write towards. Just sit down and write doesn't work for me. But sit down and write 500 words works. Now, this might not work for you, every writer is different after all. But use it as an experiment to find out what works.
    - 2000 words a day, each day for a month is a lot. Not for everyone of course, but the every day part is the hard part here. If you don't write for 4 days you're suddenly something like 3000 words behind which you have to catch up to, along with the words you have to write anyway. Nothing wrong with it and not impossible. But it is different from simply writing a few days a week without a hard deadline which requires you to write each day.
    - speed and quality are only very loosly related. Some people write fast and some write slow, and it says nothing about the quality. It's more down to training, natural writing speed and focus then about the quality. Some full time authors write a book a month (or faster) and they write great stories. Others take years to finish their novels
    - It takes dedication and a lot of small steps to write a novel. Very few people can sit down and write 50k words in a week (or a day). But if you sit down each day (or 5 days a week) and type out a 1000 words, they start adding up. It might not seem like a lot after one or two days, and sometimes it feels like it's crawling, but after 2 weeks of writing you will have 15.000 words and it actually starts looking like a novel.
    - Down time is important. With both my NaNo attempts I wrote each day for a month straight (and got to around 30k words both times). And after both attempts I felt creatively drained and had trouble writing for a few days after. Part of it is probably simply due to rushing to a finishline. But I also need some time between writing a lot to recharge my brain. Writing 5 days a week is easy for me. I can keep that up for months. Apparently writing 7 days a week doesn't work for me.

    Hm, this post has grown a bit long. Sorry about that. I'll just go for a summary. Try it. The worst which can happen is that you learn a lot about your writing process and end the month with more words than you started. Take it serious while you are doing it, but also realize it's just a bit of fun and if you run into something which is more important then take that seriously.
    NRuhwald likes this.
  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    Did NaNo several times. Never made the 50,000 words, never finished any of the tales I was working on in that time frame. However, 'Labyrinth: Seed' and several of the books in the 'Empire' series were all NaNo projects.
  8. ladyander

    ladyander Dreamer

    It's not really about writing anything that is worth reading. I know a lot of people treat it like that. They want to write a novel that they can publish and then edit afterwards. I think February is seen as NaNo editing month. Maybe it's March, it's been a bit.

    I always thought of it as just a challenge when I participated. I had little to no expectations for the book I was writing because it was really all for fun and see if I could do it. I mean, ever single NaNo novel I worked on is buried in a file collection digital dust. I hate them all.

    However, I don't take part anymore. It's not worth the three months of writing exhaustion I feel afterwards. It kills my productivity. Sure, I can write a junk novel in 30 days, however, I still have other projects I want to complete or start.

    I love the idea or it and the community because it's really fun to be part of something so large.
  9. Christina

    Christina Acolyte

    So many good insights here! I'm with you ChasejxyzChasejxyz I think there's so much value in writing practice, regardless of whether it's polished work or crunch work. For me, Nano brought with it the idea that I could even write a novel. I committed to it and that commitment lead to 30 days of a disciplined writing habit. I managed 50,000 words and finished the story. However, it wasn't the end. It was just the beginning. It was a seed that took root. Years later, it's a tree that keeps branching out and evolving, growing beyond anything I ever expected or imagined. I owe that to my courage to participate in Nano.

    Like ladyanderladyander I see it as a challenge–a personal one. I see it as a way to build a writing habit and learn how to commit to the craft. The deadline held me accountable for finishing the story, which is probably the hardest thing for me to do as a creative person, lol!

    Prince of SpiresPrince of Spires Nano definitely introduced me to a writing process, too. I wrote in RP's with friends, but otherwise had no formal writing habits of my own. Now that I have one, it keeps changing as I learn what it takes to write a fantasy novel. For me–and what I think I learned from Nano–is that I require consistency to keep confident. Nano trained me to show up every day. Now, I am working to keep up that habit. I keep telling myself that my only job is to show up and write every day. Time will do the rest.
    NRuhwald and piperofyork like this.
  10. piperofyork

    piperofyork Scribe

    This reminds me of a Stephen King quote: "Don't wait for the muse. As I've said, he's a hardheaded guy who's not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. This isn't the Ouija board or the spirit-world we're talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you're going to be every day from nine 'til noon. or seven 'til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he'll start showing up.”
  11. Christina

    Christina Acolyte

    Yes! I believe this to be true. I recently attended a virtual writer's workshop and the teacher said "make your routine a ritual." I have found this mentality to be super helpful in sticking to my writing habit, especially when it feels like a "job." I pour myself a cup of coffee or tea, light a candle, put on fantasy ambient music in the background, and face the page with an open mind.
    piperofyork likes this.

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