My NaNoWriMo Experience

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You may have noticed that this blog was been a bit quiet last month. That is because this year, for the first time, I took part in NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. 

On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

(www.nanowrimo.org)

This year, Dublin participants wrote over 5 million words! This was my first year taking part, although it is something I have thought about trying for a number of years. For the most part it was a very enjoyable (if challenging!) experience and I am delighted to say that I reached 50,000 words. I  now have a very rough draft of a contemporary YA novel about college, friendship and spoken word poetry.

What I Learned:
* I can find the time to write every day, if I really want to. There were days when I came home from work and I really just wanted to curl up on the sofa and watch TV, but if I hadn’t reached my word count that had to wait (most days. Some days I didn’t write, and then had some catching up to do later in the week).
* I learned how valuable snatched moments can be for writing – I carried a little notebook with me all month, writing when I was waiting for the DART or when I was on my break at work. All these words had to be typed up later but it was still helpful.
* Characters can surprise you. I had heard writers say this before, but I never really understood it until Sam, a character in my novel, arrived on the page with his jazz hands and bad jokes and kind of stole the show.
* I can finish things. I can write 50,000 words in a month. I have a few half novels knocking about the place, so to finish one was a real achievement.
* I need to plan more. I am not good at planning, and the novel went through some serious wobbles because of this. My protagonist Alice also had things very easy until the end of the book when I threw all sorts of awful problems at her. Sorry, Alice.
What I Would Do Differently:
* Plan more! I started the month with a few lists. While this gave me a lot of freedom, it also meant I went off on a few tangents.
* Keep a list of characters names. I kept forgetting what I had called minor characters. Some of these characters may have been lost along the way.
* Reduce the cast of characters. Again, I kept forgetting names and some of the characters were quite similar, but that’s what editing is for!
* Get more involved with the NaNoWriMo community in Dublin.
What’s Next:
* I will return to NaNoWriMo project but for now I need a break from it. I was thinking about it almost constantly in November and I need to take a step back before I rewrite and edit it. It is quite messy at the moment and needs a lot of restructuring and rewriting.
* I will definitely take part in NaNoWriMo again, it is an excellent challenge and I found it really motivated me to write. Although I didn’t get to any of the meetups I found the forum, Facebook group and Twitter helped create a sense of community and encouraged me to keep writing.
If you’re thinking of taking part in NaNoWriMo I would highly recommend it. It is a great way of motivating yourself to get writing and it is a good challenge to take on. While it was tough and at times I was tempted to give up, it was certainly worth it!