What NaNo Taught Me

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It’s over. It’s finally over.

Actually, that’s a little too melodramatic. I feel like the whole of November has gone so fast – it’s barely registered in my head. It’s been a blur of words and hard work and stress, with running in increasingly cold weather being the only real indication of the passage of time.

And I did it. I never thought I would. I never wanted to sign up in the first place, as I was so convinced I wouldn’t.

I’m not going to even pretend it was ever easy. There were days when the words flowed and I felt in control. Ahead. At some points I had buffers large enough to get me through five days without writing a word. And I needed them. Because for every day that the words came spilling out of my brain through my fingers, there were days when I was too tired, too stressed, too mind-numbed to write anything at all.

There were only four days though, where I wrote nothing at all. All days when I had something on after work – running, overtime, and one thursday where I clearly just lost the plot.

There were days where my count was less than 500, and a couple where it was only just over. I didn’t hit the 1667 target every day I did spend writing.

I also cheated, because I didn’t start a brand new project. I carried on with old ones I wanted to finish. I wrote short stories and even got desperate enough to count 100 odd words of a poem. But for me, NaNo this year wasn’t about starting something new. It was about kick starting my writing again. I chose to finish off older projects so that in December I would have some things to edit that I’d been wanting to attack with a red pen for a while. I hope that some time in the new year, they will be ready for submission.

And kick start my writing it has. Not every word I’ve written has been good, and I know some of the stuff I wrote on one of my much older projects will probably have to be completely deleted and rewritten. But it’s okay. Because the project got finished. It’s ready for that now.

And most importantly, NaNo has taught me that even while balancing a challenging, time consuming career with house upkeep, running and trying to have a life and a relationship with the Boyfriend once in a while, I can find the time to write.

I’m going to write 500 words a day. I won’t write them every day, but some days I will write more. As long as I average 3500 words a week, I will be happy. I’m going to keep track on my calendar, as I have been through NaNo, so I can see the words piling up over the month.

I don’t expect December to be as prolific. Between Christmas celebrations, trying to read ten books to catch up with my Goodreads goal, and editing, I probably won’t hit even half of my NaNo total.

But if I end up 15000 words further forwards than I was before, well, that’s half a Novella in my series. It’s 1/6 of my next novel.

And if NaNo taught me anything, it’s that when you write often, things have a way of spiralling out of control. In a good way. New plot twists, characters I hadn’t planned for, some of the worst but also some of the best writing I’ve done.

People often say they’d write a book if they had the inspiration. My music teacher used to say creativity was 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. I think if you put in 100% perspiration, the percentage of inspiration gradually increases, until you hit a magical equilibrium.

And that’s when the words really start pouring out.

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