Itâ€™s nearly the end of May and Camp NaNoWriMo is well and truly over. I wrote about my preparations for the month in April is the Camp-est Month, which seems like a long time ago. One thing that surprised me was that 30 days of concentrated noveling has left me neglecting this blog but Iâ€™m back and I am with lesson.
Hereâ€™s what I learnt from completing my first ever writing marathon where I set my own goal – officially.
I work well when I have a small stretch goal.
Iâ€™ve always set myself either lofty goals or ones that are small before.
When theyâ€™re too lofty Iâ€™m so uncomfortably aware that Iâ€™m unlikely to reach it that everything feels hopeless so whatâ€™s the point. When theyâ€™re too small, they feel like theyâ€™re not even worth going after.
So, this time I made a goal somewhere in the middle. And I hit my word count goal every single day! Why didnâ€™t I think of it before?
And with a plan.
Iâ€™ve always thought I was a pantser. And I do still love discovery writing, I canâ€™t imagine starting a project without a good chunk of discovery-based fun.
But I realised that as a project progresses, I like a solid structure. Knowing where each of my characters is heading, how each scene fits into the whole makes the writing of it so smooth and fast.
Plotting allows me to writer faster. Theyâ€™s still room for the joy of discovery but I donâ€™t get stuck wondering if Iâ€™m taking this character arc in the right direction or where my characters should be next.
Itâ€™s a shame I dislike the outlining process. Yeah, I need to work on this.
But perhaps the most important lesson is that I donâ€™t need a NaNoWriMo to write.
Iâ€™d begun to fear that I could only work on a project consistently if I was embroiled in Novemberâ€™s NaNoWriMo. Last month taught me why I failed to keep up a consistent writing habit come December.
Iâ€™d been pushing myself too hard. By the time December arrived I was creatively burnt out from pushing myself to get more and more words. Simultaneously I was worried about the quality of my work. Since I hate editing, the prospect of having to fix 22,000 words later when I could have quality work of only 10,000 stressed me out.
By lowering my word goal (and also celebrating even if I didnâ€™t reach it) I found myself writing what feels to be better quality. I hope Iâ€™ll look back on it and think the same.
If youâ€™re in same boat over NaNoWriMo burn out, give lowering the goal and celebrating-your-achievement-no-matter-what a go.
And how are all these lessons playing out now Nano ended?
I have taken a couple of days off this May, but not together. I donâ€™t like to get into the habit of not writing and two days feels very close to forming a habit.
But beyond those days Iâ€™m still writing every day. Iâ€™ve broken my Nano daily goal a couple of times too, but mostly Iâ€™m back down hovering around the 250 words goal that I set myself at the beginning of the year.
Iâ€™ve had a few days beneath it, one being 72. And it took me 15 minutes to reach that! But I no longer care if it seems small. Itâ€™s 72 words closer to finishing my novel that I would have been had I not even given it a shot that day.
Just keep on keeping on.
What was your biggest lesson of NaNoWriMo?