What I Learned From NanoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Image


NaNoWriMo as you are probably aware stands for National Novel Writing Month and it takes place for the month of November every year. Writers from all over the world scramble to write as quickly as they can and churn out 50,000 words or more in the space of a month. It’s quite a challenge, but it can also be very rewarding.

This year was the first year that I really set myself the goal of competing in NaNoWriMo. I read all the tips and guides and geared myself up for what was going to be a very busy month. The week before the month long event was to kick off, I grabbed a notebook and began plotting out the novel I was going to write. I wrote out my character profiles, chapter synopses, ideas and more. I was fully prepared or so I thought.

November came and with it came some very unexpected client work. Now on top of having to write a 50,000 word novel I had three new client projects that also had to be completed by the end of the month. Some careful planning was going to be required and I was determined to make the effort and finally take part in NaNoWriMo. I had planned on doing it every year for the past 5 years but something always got in the way. This year I was going to do it.

I started with a bang and began typing up my prologue and then the first chapter. Then things took a turn. My client work seemed to be taking up all my time and I was falling behind in my word count. The problem seemed to be that whenever I sat down at my laptop, work took priority and I wasn’t leaving myself any time for my novel. I had to do something and so I decided to go old school. I took the notebook that I had scribbled my plot and ideas into and began writing my novel the old way using pen and paper. I went to the school to pick up my children 30 minutes early. This gave me an extra hour to write and it worked wonders. Without any distractions my writing took over. This was something I had never thought of doing before and it has proved to be an amazing habit. Even with NaNoWriMo over I am still taking this hour to write for me.

Another strange thing happened once I moved to pen and paper and that was that my characters seemed to just take over. I had decided before NaNoWriMo started that I would write whatever part of the novel inspired me each day but once I had my notebook and pen things worked out differently. Now I found the story taking over and each day something new was happening. The first chapter that I had written just didn’t seem to fit any more and I had to go back and add in a chapter before it. My characters were taking on a life of their own and characters that I hadn’t profiled or thought wouldn’t really feature in the novel soon became major players. As soon as I parked the car each day my mind would just come to life. I would open the notebook to see where I had left on and instantly the writing took over. My notes and chapter synopses went out the window and I allowed the creative process to take over.

This is big lesson for me. I normally write non-fiction which means plenty of research and following my own guidelines and chapter synopses. With fiction it is a whole new ballgame and one that I really enjoyed. The characters seemed to write themselves and I found myself waiting rather impatiently each day for the school runs. My creative juices were on fire and I re-discovered my passion for fiction. When I was a child of about 10 I loved nothing more than to write fiction, always creating new characters and stories or even new episodes for my favourite TV shows. This was something that I stopped doing when I hit my early teens. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I have rediscovered this joy.

I’m still unsure as to my finished word count for NaNoWriMo this year as I haven’t typed up my novel yet. I do however have two and a half notebooks with more still to come. It really doesn’t matter to me that I haven’t been able to paste my novel into NaNo and receive recognition as the whole experience has been something that I will never forget and something that has thought me so much. I have always avoided writing long pieces and had convinced myself that this was something I couldn’t do. I have now proved to myself that I can. NaNoWriMo has thought me so much this year and I want to share these precious gems of wisdom with you.

  1. Having some dedicated writing time for yourself is really important even if it is only an hour a day.
  2. You don’t have to follow your plot, it is better to let your story write itself.
  3. You can never say never until you try something.
  4. Enjoying the process of writing is the most important part. If you are passionate about what you do and you enjoy doing it then you have succeeded no matter what.

My novel isn’t yet complete and I am still writing each day as my character tell their tale. I am enjoying it and most of all, I know it is something I will do again. Whilst I love writing non-fiction there really is something magical about fiction. Seeing your characters come alive in your mind and then begin able to re-create it on paper is amazing. I am so grateful for NaNoWriMo and I have made some wonderful new connections through it too.

If you took part in NaNoWriMo this year, how did you find it? Did you complete your 50,000 words and if so what are your plans now? I am planning to blog my novel in its unedited form so be sure to keep an eye out for that. If you are subscribed to my updates you will receive this in your email but if not be sure to do it now so you won’t miss out.

Amanda J Evans is an Irish author. Amanda lives in Co. Meath, Ireland, with her husband and two children. She writes paranormal, fantasy, and romantic fiction. She has published works available on Amazon including her bestselling non-fiction title “Surviving Suicide: A Memoir From Those Death Left Behind”, a book that promotes suicide awareness. Amanda has also received a publishing contract for a number children’s story book with the first title coming in fall 2017.

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