What Did I Learn From NaNoWriMo This Year?

You might have noticed that I didn’t do a post checking-in my NaNoWriMo status for the final week like I had been all month, nor did I post any sort of wrap up for it. Well today, I’m here to sort of do that but also to talk about what I learnt from this round of NaNoWriMo. So let’s get into it.

First of all, I have to admit that my plans didn’t quite work out the way I had expected them too. My thought was; I’ll write every day, I’ll get the majority of this novella done and then I’ll have time to think about the second draft of my actual novel. I learnt quite a bit this month about my writing and that’s what we’ll get into in a minute.

But first, some background. A couple of years ago while living in the UK, I essentially wrote three novels. One of them was maybe halfway done beforehand, and another I wrote for another two months once returning home, but the majority of the writing was done in that short period of time. I was writing every single day, sometimes up to 12,000 words in a day. Even when I was travelling around England and Europe, I was spending my nights in different hotel rooms and hours-long train rides writing. When I got back to Melbourne that stopped pretty quickly. I won’t lie—I was pretty depressed upon coming home, and then life just got in the way.

So for the last four years that I’ve been back my writing has been very erratic. Sometimes I’ll write consistently for a few days and then not even touch my work for months. So it probably doesn’t surprise you to learn I didn’t keep up that writing every day thing, right? I managed a good two and a half weeks and I’m proud of that but it made me realise a lot about my writing.

Routine? What Routine?

So many different writing blogs and author interviews and whatnot will tell you the consistency is key when it comes to writing. I’ve seen many authors say that writing every day is the best practice. Here’s the thing: I can almost bet none of those authors are writing with chronic illness.

Consistency? My chronic illness doesn’t know her.

Right now, in a month I probably have about half to a quarter of days where I can do things. I don’t know why I forgot about that when I made these plans for November, but let me tell you, my body soon reminded me.

So my biggest lesson from NaNo this year? Writing every day isn’t an option for me. Often, writing every second day isn’t even an option. But no, Ely, this doesn’t mean you can just not write!

The Plan Going Forward

Instead, I’ve kind of worked out that a two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off kind of system works right now. So for two weeks, I focus on writing. It doesn’t have to be every day, I just have to end those two weeks with more words than what I started. I’m writing this post ahead of time, so that I can start back on my two-weeks-on routine on the 7th while having all my posts done so it’s one less thing to worry about.

I’ll be talking more about how that goes/went in the New Year as well as sharing some of my writing goals for the year and looking back at the ones I set for 2020.

What About That Novella?

Yeah, ha, it’s so not anywhere near done. I thought it would maybe be 20k or so, but it’s looking maybe more around the 30k mark. Honestly, this is really just for me. It’s almost kind of like research for the second draft of my actual novel, Tied Together, and so I’m just letting myself have fun writing it and creating the events that are the catalyst to the plot in the novel. I can’t imagine sending this out, even to my friends, so that’s taken away a lot of stress.

And The Novel?

It has actually really helped me think about things in a different and (I think) a better way. I haven’t quite gotten to the really big events that will shape the novel, but it did make me think about different aspects. Some of them actually make huge changes for the book, but they are also aspects that will make it a lot easier for me to write. So I’m feeling more positive about writing it than I have a for a while.

And there we go. I’m hoping all this will make it easier for me to make writing a priority in the upcoming year, and hopefully I’ll get to share some of that with you.

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