Halfway Through NaNoWriMo: What I’ve Learned…

keep calm nano

30 days to write 50,ooo words… Let’s do this!

This is the first year I’ve signed up for and attempted participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – held every November and forthwith shortened to Nano).  I’ve known about it for a long time, but never actually committed to doing it. Now that I’ve been working on writing a book I’m hoping to have published, I thought I should put myself to the task.

What I had hoped to gain and what I have actually gained so far, as there’s a little over a week left in Nano has taught me a lot about myself, my style, and what I think I can work on to be a better writer.

What I hoped I’d get from this experience: 
Meeting other writers, locally and worldwide to expand my circle of contacts and connections and possibly gain some good alpha and beta readers to share my manuscript with when it’s completed.

Nano has all sorts of ways to connect with people. After I signed up, I followed more of the guidance and instructions that directed me to a local Facebook group for Nano participants in my area. That group’s been wonderfully active, posting encouraging things, planning group ‘write-ins’ at local bookstores, coffeeshops, and even some touristy locations. I thought, “This is great! I’m going to meet lots of people this way!”

What I actually learned/did: 
The Facebook group wouldn’t let me sign into it with the author page/bio I have. I had to use my real name and real Facebook identity. I’m skittish about doing so because despite being very open about my life, I’m also very private and the idea of having strangers knowing that part of me didn’t feel good. So, I haven’t posted so much as a ‘like’ or ‘comment’ on anything there. I also haven’t participated in any of the gatherings, because I don’t know these people, because I haven’t gotten to know them through the Facebook thing… aaaarggh. It’s all my responsibility, and I accept that, but I’ve learned I’m more reclusive than I thought when it comes to this sort of thing.

What I hoped I’d get from this experience:
Learning what it’s like working under a deadline. Having the pressure to meet a word-count goal in 30 days so that I could push myself to write as much as possible every day.

What I actually learned/did:
I work well under deadlines. That part never really bothered me. I haven’t been able to commit to an every day writing schedule, but that’s because before Nano began, I put myself on a schedule and worked at keeping to it to manage my time effectively. According to Nano’s word count per day tracking, I’m behind, but I think I’ll catch up by the end of the month so it will all balance out.

What I hoped I’d get from this experience: 
Learning how to write more free-formed, what’s called “pantsing” — writing ‘by the seat of your pants’ — not working with structured outlines and extensive notes and backstory, but letting the story develop more organically and freely.

What I actually learned/did: 
I am not a pantser. I’m an outliner. I spent the first week trying to organize my ideas for the story I had in mind, because I took November off from working on my novel to try and create something entirely new and different for the Nano project. I got about 200 words before I stopped writing and started trying to figure out where things were headed, what characters were going to do what, how the chapters would align… everything that I normally would have worked out in an outline. So, no… I don’t like doing the freestyle pantsing thing.

What I hoped I’d get from this experience:
Having my work seen by an agent or publisher and being offered a publishing contract for this story.

What I actually learned/did: 
This remains to be seen. Wish me luck!

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