My NaNoWriMo 2021 Experience

If you’ve been following me on Instagram this past November, you may have caught me talking about NaNoWriMo off and on. For those, November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. The idea is that you have to write 50 000 words of a story during November (which is about 1667 words a day). The story can be about whatever you want- any genre your heart desires. You don’t even have to finish the entire thing over the course of November. But you must write 50 000 words before the month comes to an end.

I had heard about NaNoWriMo several years ago (I believe it was back in 2012 or 2013 from some YouTube video), but I never bothered partaking in it before. I was always too busy with school and/or work to consider doing NaNoWriMo. This year was no different- I’ve been doing so much client work that I didn’t think about doing NaNoWriMo initially.

Then I changed my mind and decided to do it less than a week before November started.

Why did I change my mind? When I think about it now, I guess I figured I needed a challenge. I’ve written novels before (Check out my Wattpad for some of my previous work!), but that I did so at my own pace. The goal when I wrote before was to get the novel done, period. I’d give myself several months to hit 50 000 words or so, let alone finish a novel. Why not see if I can write 50 000 words in just one month?

It’s been said that there are two types of people who do NaNoWriMo: Planners and Pantsers. Planners typically have an outline and their characters fleshed out beforehand. They know what they’re writing about long before November rolls around. Pantsers are the opposite- they just jump right into NaNoWriMo without a solid plan. They go off the seat of their pants, hence the nickname.

In my case, I fell into the latter category. This was a huge difference in past stories I’ve written. Anything I’ve ever written had a thorough plot and character outlines before I began writing. But when I did NaNoWriMo, all I had was a plot idea and the names of my characters. That was all I had to go off on.

I thought that doing NaNoWriMo without a solid plan would be a disaster from the start. But I was genuinely surprised to find that that wasn’t the case. I went into it not worrying about who would read my work because no one was going to anytime soon. Plus, all first drafts are shit anyways- why stress over the quality of my writing? I find that when I do that, it sucks all the joy that writing brings me.

Instead of focusing on how good I was writing, I focused on one goal: writing at least 1667 words a day. What I found is that I’d surpass that goal with ease with every chapter I wrote. While there were a couple of times where I would just barely make the daily 1667-word goal, I’d write far more than that for the most part. That made reaching the final goal of 50 000 words easier to achieve.

In order to find time to write, I’d always wait until my workday was done before getting to it. Some nights, I would write one or more chapters until it was close to midnight, or even just after. Even on a weeknight, I’d be up late to work on my NaNoWriMo work in progress (WIP). Some may think that that’s ridiculous, but it was important to me to get it done. I guess what they say is true- if you want something bad enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to get it done.

I reached the 50 000 word goal on November 29th- just two days before the month ended. Seeing that I finally reached that word count goal for a first draft felt so damn good. It made all those late nights and stress worth it to realize that I had successfully completed NaNoWriMo. No one else may have cared about this, but I did- and that’s all that matters.

Now that NaNoWriMo is long over, what happens now? Well, I’ve decided to focus solely on work during December. Between it and the holidays, I’m stressed out enough as it is. The last thing I want is to add any unnecessary stress during this time. I’m going to resume working on my WIP in 2022 with one goal in mind- to finish writing it once and for all.

Some of you may be wondering if I’ll partake in NaNoWriMo next year. As of right now, my answer is yes. I enjoyed the challenge of writing 50 000 words in a month. It gave me a chance to write something new while also allowing me to improve my writing overall. Yes, it was stressful, but that’s okay. A little stress isn’t the worst thing in the world to deal with. That being said- if I’m simply too busy with life and work to do it, then I’ll postpone it for another year. It is what it is.

What do you think of the idea of NaNoWriMo? Have you ever done it before? If so, what was your experience like? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on social media!

xo,

Elizabeth

Published by Elizabeth Sarah Larkin

Freelance Writer & Social Media Manager

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