creative writing

11 Lessons Learned from NaNoWriMo 2019

Hi everyone!

Now that November has come and gone and I’ve refilled on sleep and feeling less zombie-like rejuvenated, I thought that it’s a good opportunity to look back on how NaNoWriMo went this year, what went well and what could be improved for next time.

What Went Well

1: Waking up early

Yup! As you guys may know already, this is a writing habit that I’ve adopted on and off over the last year or so (since the last NaNo!) I love writing in the morning because it is the perfect way to get my day started. It is also a great feeling to go to sleep at night and have something fun to look forward to the next morning before work. The hardest part is rolling out of bed at 5:45AM, but once I am awake, I am ready to tackle the day!

2: Sipping tea

Tea has always been my jam. I need to have a cup of tea beside me whenever I am doing something productive, be it work, blogging, writing, whatever! No tea, no productivity! However, during NaNoWriMo, I am often writing late into the night, and however much I love caffeinated tea, it will harm my sleep. Instead I recently found a few herbal teas that I love, including lemon ginger and mango rooibos.

3: Attending write-ins and local events

I’ve been to write-ins a *teeny* bit more consistently compared to last year and I got to know a bit more about the regular Wrimos in my area. I really really appreciate how active my region is- pretty much there is at least one write-in in my city every day of the week! Unfortunately, with my work schedule I couldn’t commit to a lot, but I did go consistently to a Tuesday morning write-in which was very fun. I also went to The Last Ditch, which was an event that my region hosted on Saturday Nov 30 evening (until midnight) where we all got together to squeeze in the last of our words for the month.

Admittedly, I probably don’t write the best or the fastest during these write-ins. I am always too distracted by the conversations around me, and by just being in the same room and writing together with people that I don’t know well. But still it was a great experience just to meet others who have the same interests as I do.

4: Creating a NaNoWriMo tag

I had lots of fun creating my own NaNo 20 Questions Tag this year. Because of this I met some bloggers who I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I also really enjoyed reading about everyone’s projects, which really got me hyped up for NaNoWriMo!

5: All the planning

Remember that one long post I wrote a while back in October where I showed off some of the outlining I’ve done? It might have seemed overboard at the time, BUT it was not overboard. If anything, I could have planned more (but more on that in the next section!)

I was SO thankful that I had the key plot points figured out, as well as the character sheets, family tree, city names, etc. At first it felt excessive to name and write profiles for all the minor characters in my MC’s family, but this proved to be really useful later on since I am not scrambling for names. Also, because work and life was so hectic in November, sometimes all the time I had to think about my novel was the 2 hours I had left at the end of the day, and it was so helpful to have an outline in front of me so I don’t even have to think about which scene to write next.

And this world map was GOLD! I pretty much had this committed to memory and couldn’t have done without it.

6: Writing by hand

I managed to fill up two and a half notebooks with my NaNo story! I don’t know what it is about writing by hand that really appeals to me: maybe it is being able to rest my eyes after staring at screens all day? maybe writing by hand helps overcome my inner editor since there is less room on the page to correct myself? maybe I love my fountain pen!?

Yes, I can’t survive without my favourite Lamy fountain pen ๐Ÿ™‚

7: The writing marathon

So I did this 24-hour writing marathon challenge in the beginning of November. Essentially it was what it sounded like- writing non-stop for 24 hours (minus washroom breaks, drinking water, eating, etc.) I didn’t 100% succeed at this challenge because I inadvertently took a 7-hour nap, BUT this challenge motivated me to get a head start on my novel during the first weekend of NaNoWriMo which really helped, especially since I had quite a new low word-count days right afterwards!

8: Moving along

The thing about writing first drafts is that it isn’t perfect, and sometimes I want to delete paragraphs or even scenes or even the whole Part One and start over. And yes eventually I will. BUT that does not happen during NaNoWriMo. In the past month I really got to know the art of tacking on a post it note called “fix it later” and moving on.

What Could Have Gone Better

9: The worldbuilding

This was the part of my “elaborate” outline that… could have been more elaborate. To give myself some credit, it was my first time writing a fantasy novel that took place in a different universe than the one that we live in, and I had done more worldbuilding than I’ve ever had for a novel. But it still wasn’t enough.

One specific aspect of the worldbuilding that was lacking (that really showed) was the magic system. I wrote a few paragraphs about how magic works, separated it into several types, created some monsters, and called it a day. It wasn’t until I started writing when I realized that the magic was kind of wishy washy. I also made up lots of stuff as I went along that……. I’m really not sure makes sense. If I were to write a fantasy again, I would definitely spend much more time on worldbuilding, particularly magic systems, before I start writing.

10: The work schedule

It just so happened that NaNoWriMo overlapped with THE busiest month of the year at my workplace, and I knew it, and I still signed up for NaNo. If this were to happen again for next year, I would really want to re-evaluate my word count goal, not because I don’t think I can do it- I probably could force myself to do it all over again- but it is probably in my own best interest to sleep more and have a better work-life-writing balance.

11: Twitter

There is a huge writing community on Twitter who are engaging and interactive, and it was really fun during NaNo last year when I participated. But between writing, blogging and work, I really didn’t have time for Twitter this year. (My Twitter feed was all chirps haha…. and not from tweets.)

And that’s all! Overall NaNoWriMo 2019 has been a great experience. Even though it has been tough, I enjoyed the writers that I’ve met and the story I’ve written thus far. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if not for the community, both offline and online (and that includes you guys!)

For all of you who tried NaNoWriMo this year but didn’t make it- don’t worry about it. Really. NaNoWriMo is about more than a number. It’s about the people that you meet on the way, the stories that write, and the lessons that you learn about writing. I think if NaNo has left a footprint on you in whichever way, even if it inspired you to write a little more than you usually would, then it is a success!

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? What are some of the lessons that you’ve learned in the past month, writing-related or otherwise?

14 thoughts on “11 Lessons Learned from NaNoWriMo 2019

  1. I loved reading about your NaNoWriMo lessons! ๐Ÿฅฐ Having a hot drink is definitely great for getting motivated to do some writing and I’m also a huge planner when it comes to everything. I also love participating in Twitter Sprints, as it can be so helpful to get started ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These are all such wonderful lessons, Sophie! I’m so impressed that you were able to wake up so early and fit writing in despite your busy schedule. And that’s wonderful that you got so much of your planning done in October, even if parts of the worldbuilding was lacking. I definitely didn’t do as much planning as I should have a felt that a lot throughout the month ๐Ÿ˜… But you’re absolutely right that the community, whether it’s on wordpress, twitter, or in real life, is one of the best aspects of NaNoWrimo! โค

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Margaret!! It was great that we cheered each other on during Nanowrimo ๐Ÿ™‚ Yeah when I don’t plan as in-depth as I should have, I definitely do feel it while I am writing.
      I agree! The community is one of the best aspects of Nanowrimo. I feel like knowing that the rest of the world is writing gives me superpowers to write more and faster than I usually would XD

      Like

  3. Well done once again on how NaNoWriMo went for you!! I really don’t think I could get up as early as you did for it. Id probably stay up late instead and forget to sleep ๐Ÿ˜‚ I also loved reading your tag and think your map is fantastic. Although that level of planning terrifies me. I honestly do think how much you wrote, especially on top of how busy you were, is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Charlotte ๐Ÿ™‚ Now that I took a small break from writing over the holidays, I am getting used to sleeping in again haha XD (though I’m hoping to get back into the habit of waking up early)
      Planning really works for me although I think everyone has their own approach ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah well I hope you manage to get back into that habit again then.
        And yeah I guess I’ll just have to try out writing again sometime and find out what level of planning works best for me.

        Liked by 1 person

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