Keeping the Momentum of NaNoWriMo

Hello Lovelies! The month of November is coming to a close, and whether you’ve won NaNoWriMo, are nowhere near winning, or didn’t participate at all, I want you to know I am cheering for you and I hope you finish strong!

What’s the most glorious thing about doing NaNoWriMo? For so many of us out there, we are writing on our lunch breaks We are squeezing words in while we sit at the kiddos baseball practice, or taking that one hour before the day starts to get our words in. If I make 600 words in an hour, I’m doing really good. NaNo is HARD. Like, really, really hard. When you are already trying to fit writing into your already crazy work schedule and life, with holidays, family gatherings, retail being nuts, and school and work projects coming due near the end of the year, there is no worse time for NaNoWriMo. Squeezing your schedule so that you can wrangle out time for 1667 words per day is no small challenge when you’re only making 600 words at most like me.

But did you die?

Look, I’m not saying that you need to continue the breakneck pace of NaNo month (if you don’t want to)! I absolutely advocate for take at least a week, or maybe even the entire month of December to relax and catch up with your family and friends, not to mention your home and office. You know you need to wash your hair. And your clothes. And your dishes. Go do it.

You might have made 50,000 words, (or maybe you didn’t) but it’s likely that your story is not done by any stretch. If it is, you probably have a very messy, chaotic draft on your hands (speaking from experience there)!

If nothing else, expending a ton of energy every day for a sustained amount of time is exhausting. Burnout is real, and if you’re feeling your own warning signs, just do yourself a favor and rest. You’ve earned it.

I know that sounds counter-intuitive for a post about keeping up the momentum you gained attempting NaNoWriMo, but if you’re all wound up, you’ll be too stressed to work on anything effectively, so first of all, take the time you need to rest, recharge, and to refill your creative well.

Then I want you to think about what you learned. NaNo is such a crazy thing, and I remember the first time I tried it (and every time thereafter) I just learned so many things about my writing process, about myself, about what works for me and what doesn’t.

I am not a pantser, for one thing. I did not pants my drafts well. I pantsed about 25,000 words, got stuck, didn’t write in that novel for three years. The next time I planned every tiny detail of every scene. I had an outline that, by itself, would win NaNo on day 1. I hated the rigidity of it. Now I know I’m a plantser, and I’m much more successful at completing drafts.

I also now know that I work best in the early afternoons (after lunch) and evenings (after dinner and a shower). I like background noise or music, but it can’t have lyrics. I can write anywhere when I set a timer up or think I’ve got limited time to work (like the coffee shop closes in an hour), but I write best at my desk on my clackety-clack keyboard. I can write up to 8000 words in a single day if I am close to a deadline, but it may not be my best work.

Knowing things like this about myself, my writing process, figuring out how to fit the words into small pockets of time throughout the day, they were all things I learned from doing NaNo.

What can you take away from your NaNo experience that you can sustainably integrate into your regular life? Let us know your takeaways in the comments below!

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