How I Won NaNoWriMo

1:22 AM

 This was my second year attempting NaNoWriMo and the first time I won. (Wee!) So I thought I'd share how I managed to win and what I learned from winning (and not winning last year).

I always attempt to plot my novels before I start. It never works out. I'm basically a pantser who wants desperately to be a plotter. By the time I start writing I know how it will start and how it will end. I usually know a couple major plot points. I'd say this is a common theme among pantsers.

So the first couple days of NaNo went wonderfully. Of course that's mainly because I was stuck in that I love this story and it's going to be awesome mindset. Then I missed a couple days of writing... Just like that, BAM. I'm behind. All is not lost though. There are still 20 days left. I've still got this.

Somewhere around 10k words in when the beginning is over. At least for me it was. I have no idea where I'm going or how I'm going to get from the dreaded middle to the rocking ending. Most of the days I averaged a little over 1000 words--not enough to win. BUT I was determined to win. I didn't win last year so I had to win this year. For 30 days, winning was all that mattered to me.

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I had 15k words left. That's a whole lotta words for only a few measly days. There was a lot going on in my head. How am I going to finish? I can't write that many words in one day! Writer's block, I hate you and yes, you do exist. After my mental freakout, something weird happened...

I decided to write 500 words at a time. After 500, I could do something else for a bit. (Mostly, it was playing League of Legends. Killing people virtually helps tremendously sometimes.) Then I'd write 500 more. When I broke it up like that, it didn't feel as daunting. I'd usually end up writing more than 500 because I'd get on a roll or be in the middle of a scene. And before I knew it, I was writing 3000 words a day like it was nothing. I should also mention that I just kept writing. What was that one guy's name? Who cares! It's Jimmy now. Was her hair blond or red? Doesn't matter! That last sentence was not something my MC would ever say. Fix it later! Once I fully embraced that just keep writing mentality, my word count just kept rising.

With 24 hours left and 8k words needed, I sat down and typed like a mad woman with all the coffee in the world.

I finished NaNo with 50,009 words. There are plenty of places I know are full of things like: Add dialogue here. Something fun happens, but I don't know what yet. There are lots of broken and incomplete scenes and crappy dialogue. But there's a completed draft to work with. And that's the whole point right?

Since the end of NaNo, I started rereading my novel. I expected it to be the worst draft I'd ever written. Surprisingly enough, I think it's the best draft I've ever written.

So what I learned from NaNo is this: winner or not, if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen. Maybe it only takes 30 days, maybe it takes 30 weeks. This year I finished NaNo. Last year I didn't, but I ended up finishing it earlier this year. And that one is now a fully edited and polished manuscript which I love dearly. And I'll have more news on that one soon. ;)

Finish your novel already. I know if I can do it, so can you.

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  1. Great job on winning NaNo! I'll have to try the 500 word mini-goal next year. I always get so overwhelmed with NaNo.


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