Saturday, December 6, 2014

What I've Learned from NaNoWriMo 2014

As many of you know, I decided that I would be a participant of National Novel Writing Month for the very first time this year. And what you may not know is that I didn't end up hitting 50k this month.In fact, I only managed to write 27,003 words throughout the month of November. Compared to those who have been announcing their victory since the 20th, I know that's not a lot.  I'd also like to add, my writing this post and me taking down my progress bar from the top-left of the blog does not mean I quit/gave up; I simply took the pressure off myself to be a winner. Still, I'm not ashamed of losing on my first attempt, and I actually learned a lot from this experience. So much so that I wanted to share my new-found knowledge with all of you!
Lesson #1: I CAN be a Writer!
As much as I have aspired to one day have a novel - or even a whole slew of them - published under my name or my pen name, there has always been a small part of me that has doubted that particular dream will ever come true, thinking that I'll never write something that is of the same caliber as the books that I love to read on a regular basis. When I was first doing my small bit of preparation for NaNoWriMo, I subscribed to the idea that I would just have to keep writing and not care about the quality until it came time to work on revision.

Even so, while I did my best not to write from quality, I found that quality began to emerge in certain respects. I found that I was feeling better and better about the things I was writing as I pressed forward, which was an incredible feeling. Of course there were times when I felt weighed down because I thought what I was writing wasn't any good (in fact I refused to sit down and read Zoella's new book at first because I was of thinking, "I'm never gonna write anything that good in my entire life!" XP). But that feeling didn't last for long, and I got right back at it!
Lesson #2: Stress is Lethal, but Community Helps.
And no, I am not referring to the NBC-turned-Yahoo TV show when I say "Community" (which I love but have watched WAY too much of lately). So let me tell you what I mean: Into the second week of NaNoWriMo, I was falling behind on my word count. I'd actually begun to get a bit behind at the end of the first week, but there were days in the second week where I wasn't writing at all, and the pressure I was putting on myself to try and finish was quickly turning into stress. I had one night, the night before the Night of Writing Dangerously (which I was tempted to skip because I felt like such a failure), where I couldn't get to sleep because I was so worked up. Eventually I calmed myself down enough to go sleep (and tired myself out by reading Girl Online into the wee hours of the night).

The next day, while I still wasn't sure whether or not I was going to continue on with NaNo, I did know that I wanted to go to the Night of Writing Dangerously. I figured I could try and be social and maybe have a little fun, even if I couldn't write a word I could always pretend to be working on my novel and blog instead :P I did end up going, getting a ride from fellow iggle Cassandra and her iggle friend from Australia (whom I've already forgotten the name of - sorry!) and we headed to the Fine Grind Cafe in St. Catharines. And let me tell you, it was an incredible night! We had a bunch of writing sprints and word wars, which turned out to be incredibly helpful for me. It was really fun to be there with all of these people working towards the same goal (and who were all also wired on caffeine). I actually got over 10K written that night :D The pride I felt and the relief that I hadn't decided to quit was immense.
Sure I've been dosed up on caffeine before, but that's usually from taking a couple Tylenol Ultra for a particularly pesky headache. I've never cared for the taste of coffee or tea, so I've never truly had the experience of drinking a bunch of tea and staying up and writing until the wee hours. Not only that, but now I know that caffeine elevates my mood and helps me for those days where I just don't feel up to ding much of anything, let alone being creative and trying to make my daily word count.

On this note, the tea that I had that night at the Fine Grind was highly caffeinated, but I still had to force it down because the taste was less than desirable. I could use a few recommendations of a type of coffee or tea that I might be able to stand the taste of that have caffeine. Is there a caffeinated hot apple cider out there? If you then you need to send it to me immediately XD
Lesson #4: Winning Isn't Everything.
Especially since this was my very first attempt at NaNoWriMo, I don't feel bad about not hitting 50K. Truth be told, 27K is still way more than I would have written in November if I hadn't participated, and for that I am grateful. After the Night of Writing Dangerous, where I began to fall behind again because of school work, I decided not to let myself stress again and took any pressure off myself to win. That doesn't mean I gave up by any means, but I just stopped panicking over my word count and editing my word count after each sentence.

Also, near the end of the month I happened to get another great idea for a novel I'd like to try and write at some point. According to my cousin Rowan, this is known as a Plot Bunny XD Doesn't sound like the worst thing to happen.

I'd like to officially thank everyone for their support during this hectic and crazy month. I don't have a clue where I will be next November, but I'm hoping I will be able to participate again! I also think I'd like to take a crack at Camp NaNoWriMo and see how that will treat me :) Did you guys participate in NaNoWriMo? How did it go? Tell me in the comments; I want to hear all about it! :)

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