What I Learned From Participating In #NaNoWriMo

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

Here’s the thing: winning isn’t the be-all, end-all. NaNoWriMo is about you and your writing. Whether you wrote 49,000 words or 5, your commitment and drive to tell your story is important. And, oftentimes, writing with friends just for writing’s sake in November is fun… like, best-birthday-of your-life fun.

Plus, you learn something from every attempt, even when you don’t hit 50K.

The email popped up on December 1st. “How did your NaNoWriMo go?” It was the subject of a message sent to notify me that I had not written 50,000 words towards my novel last month. My goal was to follow the challenge’s suggestions and tackle 1,667 words-a-day. However, I didn’t quite make it there.

At first, I felt defeated yet again. I’m usually, for one reason or another, at my busiest and never seem to keep up the ambitious pace of finishing the writing challenge during the month of November. But then, after thinking back on to the month I realized that I accomplished something that I previously wasn’t doing before OctPoWriMo, October Poetry Writing Month, and NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month—I made time each week to write.

In previous years, my drop off in writing from NaNoWriMo resulted in me halting working on my novel altogether. It was just set aside and designated as the project that would never be worked on again. This year I’m prompted to continue the new habits I have picked up and squeeze in writing, not just my blog posts and magazine articles, but my novel as well.

What I learned from participating in NaNoWriMo is that I need scheduled times to sit down and write. It’s not because I hate writing or that I need to force myself to do it, but that sometimes we tell ourselves that we are too busy to do something we love or really wanted to do, and that’s not always the case. Sometimes we just need to make time for ourselves in our busy schedules, be mindful of the fact that you still need to take time to rest and make sure we’re doing the things that we want to do and living the life that we want to live.

Remember, if you tried to take on NaNoWriMo and didn’t quite make it there yet like I did, “wherever you’re at in your novel, or energy-wise, you did something important this month: you took the time to be a creator. You planned out new worlds and brought new characters into being. You followed your creative vision, and gave your story a voice.”

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