What I’ve Learned from NaNoWriMo

Well, it’s almost that time again. In less than a month it will be time for writers worldwide to begin their annual flailing of fingers across keyboards and (for some truly intrepid travelers) a scrabbling of pens across Compound notebooks. At my library, I’m planning several official events during October and weekly write-ins throughout November.

That being said. I’m not really doing NaNo this year.

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Now, let me explain. I’m participating… buuttt… If I don’t manage to cross the 50K in 30 days finish line this time, I won’t shed any tears over it. Here’s why. I’ve found in the past that pumping out a novel in that short a time frame, while a great exercise, does not produce good novels for me. Notice I say, for me. I know writers who can write at that quick a pace and do well, but I find that for me personally, the writing method of quantity over quality just produces crappy work that I then never want to look at again.

And you can’t exactly revise something you can’t ever bear to look at again, so…

Anyway. Here’s a list of what I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo, and why I will always, always support the project even when I don’t actively participate in it:

  • It helped me meet my local writing/critique group – a group of girls that are just seriously the best people on the planet. I love my NaNoPants girls for lyfe, yo!
  • It taught me that yes I can DO THIS.
  • It got me in the habit of a daily, consistent writing practice that I now carry throughout the year.
  • It taught me how to put words on a page without agonizing over their quality immediately.
  • It taught me that 50k is really not that much, you guys. See: “yes I can DO THIS!”

So that’s it. That’s what NaNoWriMo taught me. I’ll definitely participate in some write-ins this year as I continue working on my current novel, even if I’m not “in it to win it” this time. It’s a great practice and a wonderful way to get started writing if you’ve always wanted to, but never quite found the time or the chutzpah to get on it. Get out there and write!

Because the thing to remember about NaNo is this: The ultimate point is not just to get 50k words in a word document. The point is to improve and increase your writing practice. To write well, and to write a lot.

At least, that’s my takeaway. Your experience may be different. But that’s what I’ve learned. So far.

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