Well here it is, the first of December. The deadline for NaNoWriMo has come and gone...and, as you may have noticed from the word count in the sidebar, I did not successfully complete the challenge this year. I guess I could hang my head in shame but I'm not ashamed. Even though I did not "win" the challenge, I don't feel that I lost it either. I am leaving this challenge having learned a lot.
First and foremost I learned that I do have time to write. This is definitely the single most important thing I take away from this challenge. Maybe not 50,000 words a month, but 26,000 isn't anything to sneeze at! In fact, 26,000 words a month equals over 700 pages a year if you do the math...and that is a book (or two or three depending). So there are really no excuses for any of us writer-types to put writing off "until". I have four kids and am enrolled in school full-time; if I can find time to write, anyone can.
That being said, here is my hotwash for NaNoWriMo 2009.
Lesson #1: Next year I will "ring in" the beginning of NaNoWriMo right at midnight. This year I wrote my first installment the evening of the 1st but did not validate until after midnight on the 2nd. I spent the first week feeling like I needed to "catch up", even though I wasn't really behind. Yet.
Lesson #2: I really do need to have an outline. Had I started a real novel from scratch (as in, one that was not strongly based on my own experiences) I don't think I would have gotten as far as I did. Next year I will brainstorm and have a rough story outline done in advance. It will help that I'll know about the challenge more than two weeks prior to the event!
Lesson #3: I will put all other writing projects on hold during NaNoWriMo 2010. Or maybe I won't. We'll be in a very different place next year so we'll have to see how it works. I can tell you that Zander will be attending pre-school next year and that will make a huge difference. That boy is two full jobs all on his own. School did make finding time to write at NaNo level a little difficult. So we'll just have to see.
Lesson #4: Writers need other writers. All the times in my life that I have written prolifically I have been surrounded by other people who consider themselves writers. It is so helpful to have other people to talk about the writing process with! I think writers are a curious set. We tend to spend a bit of time in our heads with these little people we're creating...if you don't do it you probably can't understand it. It's not something that you can talk to just anyone about without risking someone thinking you need to be committed! NaNo reminded me how important it is to be able to touch base with people who get it.
Lesson #5: Slow and steady really does win the race. If I had maintained the writing averages from my first week I would have been okay. I let myself get too far behind and that put me at a distinct disadvantage. I think my writing area will be full of little notes to myself to remind me of this lesson next year.
Everyone's writing style is different, of course. What works for me may be someone else's nightmare scenario; it's all about seeing what you need for yourself.
Congratulations to those who "won"! Great job!