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What I Learned During NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month which is November. NaNoWriMo aims to make people write a book in November. To win NaNoWriMo, a participant has to write at least 50,000 words towards their book because that is the minimum word count required for a novel. I won't go in-depth because all the details can be found on Google and on their website www.nanowrimo.org

I wanted to take part in NaNoWriMo since 2017 but I could not for two consecutive years for a couple of reasons. I was adamant to participate this year and I did... and I won!

Myths I had about NaNoWriMo before participating:
  1. I would need to write the novel 'on' their website so that they can keep a track of the word count.
  2. I would have to write on a laptop or computer or tablet or phone for the sake of word count verification but I am a pen and paper person.
  3. The book has to be a novel necessarily.

Myths busted:
  1. When I entered November and the NaNoWriMo began, I realised that we only needed to upload our word count on the website daily–no words, no manuscript, nothing else. How cool is that?
  2. We can write our book wherever we want to. So, I wrote my novel in a notebook after my myth was busted because I could not write well on screen.
  3. It can be ANYTHING. See, these options:

So, if I was handwriting my book, how did I count the number of words? It's simple, I counted an average number of words per line and then multiplied it with the number of lines I wrote during each writing session. To count the average number of words per line, I used this formula:

I did it every time I switched pens because my handwriting changes with pens, especially while switching between ball pens and rollerball/gel pens.

So, all done. Now here is my experience of NaNoWriMo and what it made me realize:
(points noted each day as I progressed)

  • Small progress each day is better than a hell lot of progress on the last day.
  • It's possible to write 50k words in a month if you know where your story is going and you're loyal to your passion.
  • Priority matters the most. 
  • You can win the badge and the certificate with just updating your word count to 50k but the real winning is when you don't write for winning but contribute at least 10k words in a month genuinely towards your book.
  • Reaching goal on the first day was easy. I reached my goal the second day with a little difficulty. I didn't reach my daily word count goal the third day. I did better than all other days on the fourth day, and on the fifth day, I was about to give up because even though I was focusing on my novel, I was neglecting a lot more other things and that kind of stressed me out. Besides, my story was not coming out the way I wanted it to. But I didn't give up even though I didn't reach my word count goal of the day. On the sixth day, I achieved the day's goal again. You see, the initial days of a challenge are easy, last days make you work under pressure of the deadline but it's the days in the middle that require you to stay focussed and motivated the most.
  • You will have trouble reaching goals if an editor resides inside you. I had to shut up the editor and the critic within me every now and then, and give myself the permission to write absolute crap... but not so much crap that it cannot be fixed later.
  • How about making writing a lifestyle than just a month-long project? Isn't it better to write a little each day than writing a damn lot for a month and then never looking back at it for the whole year?
  • Everyone has a different approach to work, life and everything. While NaNoWriMo is perfect for some people who love working under pressure and need an external stimulus to stay disciplined and motivated, it can be stressful for those who love working on their own terms but are self-disciplined enough to not neglect their goals at any cost.
  • As I followed NaNoWriMo pages and hashtags, I saw that by the end of the first week, some had already reached way past 25k words while some others had not even begun their NaNoWriMo for this year. Does that mean the latter is worse than the former? No. Everyone's life moves according to their time. They might start late and end early while the ones ahead of the goal might up end up leaving their project in the middle, maybe say due to some issue that requires their urgent attention?
  • Day 9, I gave up. No, not on Nanowrimo, I still continued to update my word count on it, but I gave up on my stubbornness to achieve the word count goal each day. And it freed me. It gave a boost to my creativity instead of slowing it down. Choosing quantity over quality is hardly ever beneficial. Even if I can edit the novel later, it would become impossible to fill up some plot holes if I kept giving importance to the word count. 
  • Day 10, I gave up on working on phone and laptop, I returned to my love—pen and notebook. Did that boost my writing speed? Of course! I was able to get back in track and wrote the highest number of words I had written so far. I had avoided pen and paper till now because being the first time NaNoWriMo participant, I had a doubt that how would we validate out word count if it's not typed. But then I found out we could enter any random 50k words in the validator. (And after reaching 50k words, I found out there was no word count validator at all.)
My daily word count stats
  • You have to stay true to yourself because you can cheat on NaNoWriMo word count updating but you cannot cheat on yourself or your passion. Respecting your writing is the first step towards being a writer.
  • Lastly, it exhausted me by the end of the month. I wanted to hit the goal because I thought if I reached 40k, why not win the NaNoWriMo now? While I loved writing my book, I was constantly under the stress–pressed between wanting to hit the word count and not wanting to ruin the first draft. But I did it! The exhaustion was worth every moment. My book is still incomplete and I have no idea how long it's going to be since it's writing itself through me. But 50k words is something that would have taken me around a year or two to write if it weren't for NaNoWriMo.
  • Day 28: I had a near heart attack moment when I was looking for the word count validator but instead, I messed up with my goal settings. It just won't let me choose NaNoWriMo 2019 again and it got stuck on Camp Nanowrimo July 2019. I had lost all my progress when I was on 48k without even 'saving' the goal settings. But I kept pressing 'back' option until I was on the page from where I began messing with the site. And Thank God, everything was back to normal. I refreshed it several times to see if it was still okay.
  • You don't need to validate word count. I don't know when the validator feature was removed but it's no longer present. I got winning notification as soon as I updated word count to 50,114.

  • Nanowrimo is the best thing for procrastinators yet lovers of challenges like me. I have really really slowed down after Nanowrimo and hardly write a hundred words a day.

NaNoWriMo was very very helpful for me, it really was because I did what I would not have done in maybe forever. I wrote almost 3/4th of my book. I am a pen and paper person and I have my whole book written in a notebook. And typing from the notebook is the most tedious task for me but that also allows me to do the first and most important round of editing as I type the book from the notebook. And I know it's going to take me pretty long. But let's see when I beat my procrastination and get the book done!

Lastly, it's not how many words you write during this month, but it's about how much progress you make towards your dream. A month to work on a book you always wanted to read but could not find anywhere. 

AND here's my certificate :)
I removed the title because it's subjected to change


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