NaNoWriMo-My Experience

Tomorrow is the last day of NaNoWriMo! How did you do everyone?

If there is one thing I learned from this month, cost its that, this whether you met your goal or not, you are still a winner in my book. Writing a novel is NOT an easy task, and honestly, not everyone is made for it. So merely taking on this task makes you winner.

And if you wrote! If you wrote at all, that makes you a winner. Whether you wrote a thousand words, or all fifty thousand to meet the goal of NaNoWriMo, you are a winner! Seriously! Getting the words down on paper is the hardest part. Once you have words down, you can go back and change them or make them better or any of that.

This is definitely something I’ve learned from NaNo. I started off with a goal of 20,000 words. Once I had typed up all the writing I had done in a notebook (thanks for the advice, Cornelia Funke!), I realized I was already at 14K, and I only had 6 to write for the entire month. I knew I would be busy with blogging and school work and that sort of thing, but not that busy. So I switched my goal to 35K, which would still bring me at 20 for the entire month.

As of right this moment (and I still need to write today and tomorrow), I’m at 59,515, which brings me almost 25K over my goal AND brings me nearly to the goal of NaNo in the first place. You’re supposed to write 50K in the month of November and I’ve written 45K. And again, I still have to write today and tomorrow! So I’m confident that I am going to reach it.

Its funny, when I started my journey into the world of NaNo, I thought writing an entire 50K novel in one month was a crazy endeavor. I still think it is. I don’t think writing an ENTIRE novel in one month is the best idea. But I do love the idea of pushing yourself, and getting those words down on paper. I accomplished so much writing this month, so much more than I would have if I hadn’t pushed myself.

So here are the things I learned and gained from NaNoWriMo 2013.

Setting Goals = Great Motivation 

Seriously. Goals are amazing. For me, setting a goal, whether large or small, really holds you accountable. It also helps when you TELL people that you’ve set this goal because they can hold you accountable as well. But more on other people later. I hold myself accountable. I set a goal for the month and I hate not meeting my goals. I told myself that I would write at least 1K a day, and I told my writing friends and my boyfriend and they would hold me to that, definitely.

The way I see it is…my ultimate goal, and probably yours too, is to become a published author. And a published author is a JOB, its a career. You sign contracts, and produce books, and you need to treat it like a job. And its never too early to start doing that. By telling yourself that you need to write every day, no matter if you have “inspiration” or not, you’re being productive and you’re getting work done and you’re acting like a real author.

Writing Crappy Really IS Okay

No, really! Its going to be okay! I know that not all 59, 515 words that I’ve written so far are good. I know I will have to go back and fix things, move things around, and that kind of thing. I know that there are inconsistencies and there are some things that I need to more thoroughly research. There is a lot that is going to make it better. I realize that.

But by recognizing that and just writing, again, I got so much more done. You can’t fix a blank page, and I’ve written so much that a blank page is laughable. Once I really started to recognize that, yes, Sara, some of this is going to really suck, I just started writing. I have it down on paper. And I’m proud of it all, even if all of it isn’t that good. Because my novel has a skeleton now, it has a little bit of flesh and all that, but it can be better. But I have that skeleton to work on. And that’s great.

My Novel Changed Before My Eyes

It did! I was surprised at the changes I made while writing, and the surprises that met me around some of the corners. See, normally, I don’t force myself to write like this. It took me two years to write Another Chance for Summer and a year to write A Little Less than Famous. I’ve only been writing The Reawakened for about a couple months, and I’ve written SO much, and I’ve learned so much about it, while working so hard on it this month.

One, we came up with a title, The Reawakened. The title comes from one of my followers, Amber Harvey, and she won a personalized, sign copy of Legend by Marie Lu. So thank you for that, Amber! I’m right awful at coming up with titles so I’m glad I can make you guys do it!

Two, I introduced a character that is going to be incredibly important later on. I would have never expected that, at all, but I introduced them, in a small scene and realized…oh they are important. They are incredibly important and I know just to do with them…

Which leads to me to three…The Reawakened is NOT a standalone novel like I had intended. It is definitely a two part. I’ve already started thinking and outlining the second novel, since it helps with the first, AND I have a title for it as well. I’m very proud of that. I’ve decided to end The Reawakened so that it is either an ambiguous ending or a nasty cliffhanger, so that no matter what happens in its publishing future, it’ll be okay. But I was very surprised when I figured out that…yeah, I’m not done.

And that’s where four comes in…I’m at nearly 60K. I was aiming for a 75-80K novel, which leaves me only 15 to 20 K left to write. But I have SO much more that needs to happen in the story so I’m not sure how that’s going to work. I found that this is going to be a much larger novel than I had originally intended but I’m okay with that. Maybe it’ll end up right where its supposed to be once I’ve done edits and such but for now, its probably going to be closer to 90-100K.

The 15 Beat System is Gold 

I have to give some major props and thanks to Jessica Brody, who introduced me to the 15 Beat system. The 15 beat comes from the book, Save the Cat, which is a book on screen writing. However, you can adapt it to a novel as well. Its less specific than an actual plot outline, and for that, I love it.

I find that when I write an entire plot outline, I end up being so bored with my novel because I KNOW what’s going to happen each and every second of the way and its just boring. I’m just not a fan of it. I ditched my new adult/baseball/romance novel because I completely outlined it and I was SO bored. I may go back to it, because I really want to, but for now, just ugh.

With the 15 beat system, there are 15 beats, or plot points, you must hit to create a successful episode. Like I said, it works wonderfully with a novel. Instead of a fully specific plot outline, you have these 15 beats you have to hit throughout the story and it helps you as you write. I don’t know what will happen between each one, and its fun trying to get to each one. It really is. Its the most beautiful way to outline your story ever. Really it is.

Ditto the Book Bible

Make one. Seriously. It helps SO much, especially those of you who may be like me and are really bad with consistencies.

Check out my post on it here.

Have a Group of Supporters

For so long, I kept myself distanced from other writers because of so many reasons. There were two main reasons though: I am a competitive person and I didn’t want to have to compete face to face with someone. And I also didn’t want to  constantly have to measure myself up to people. I was SO lacking of confidence in my own writing that anyone else’s writing was always infinitely better than mine.

But I have learned that this is SO wrong. I’ve surrounded myself with fellow writers and we’ve supported each other so much this month, and we’re going to continue to support each other as we continue past NaNoWriMo. I created a Nano Support Group on FB and now converted the group to an Aspiring Authors Support Group. If you’re interested, you should definitely join.

Its also incredibly helpful to have people in your life who believe in you and support you. I really realized (again) how lucky I am to have such a creative and passionate boyfriend. We spend so much time together, not even talking, but its okay. Jon will be working on his music, and I’ll be on my computer, typing away. Its wonderful! We really support each other. I don’t know how many boyfriends would understand my desire to be on the computer for hours on end, but he does, and it helps me in my journey to finish my novel.

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NaNoWriMo has been an exciting and productive journey for me, one where I learned a lot about myself as a writer, writing in general and a lot about my novel as well. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished this month and what I hope to accomplish in the future.

For now, I have to do some last minute writing for today and tomorrow so I’m going to get to that!

Also, come back tomorrow for an exclusive excerpt from The Reawakened!

You don’t want to miss out on that!

Happy Writing!

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