If you’re anything like me, you’ve always wanted to give National Novel Writing Month a try. However, life just keeps getting in the way. Work. School. Family. To-Do lists. Vacuuming. Facebook.
This year, I decided enough was enough. I gave myself permission to put writing first for 30 days. Five days ago, I crossed the NaNoWriMo finish line with 3 hours to spare and 1,214 words above my target.
Since I nabbed that coveted purple winner star, however, I’ve realized I finished November with a lot more than just a decent first draft of a YA fantasy novel. Here are the unexpected rewards you might also experience from this exercise in literary abandon.
Deciding to participate in NaNoWriMo teaches you how to boundaries with your friends and family. Thanksgiving morning, I was at my in-laws, but I only agreed to come over once everyone agreed they would leave me along to type on the couch. I finished 500 words that morning in about an hour. More importantly, I realized that setting clear boundaries ensures people will respect them.
Getting Into A Routine
Developing a routine ensures success. Every night after work, I didn’t worry about dinner. I went straight to my couch with my favorite blanket and started writing. Several times, food materialized thanks to my hubby. See above. When he learned dinner was up to him, he stepped up to the plate. I just had to give him the chance.
Go Easy On Yourself
Give yourself permission to have a dirty house. Even though it meant I wore mental blinders when I walked around my house – I learned how to turn off the clean freak inside of me. I reasoned with myself by saying, “Yes, the pile of dirty dishes is overtaking all my dirty counters, but it’s OK. I wrote 2,000 words today.”
Silencing Your Inner Critic
Don’t be afraid to tell the editor inside of you to shut up. I have an especially harsh editor living in my head. She loves to tell me how mediocre that last sentence was or who do I think I am, trying to become a published author? Before November, whenever she started talking, I’d start staring off into space instead of writing. I’d tell myself this was just part of my process, but I’ve since realized it’s a lie.
The solution to shutting her up was to download this program called “Write or Die.” For a measly $10, this program has redirected her perfectionist tendencies. Now instead of making the sentence beautiful before proceeding to the next, my inner critic loves to hit the word count goal without making the screen flash red. We’re much happier this way.
Increase Your Productivity
You learn to write fast in 20 minute increments. I have discovered I can pound out 500 decent words in 15 minutes. Knowing that, helps me focus better. I can now spend 30 minutes a night writing and make decent process. The thought is encouraging and builds upon itself. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.
This past month has been a great experience. I highly recommend that anyone who considers themselves an aspiring author try participating in NaNoWriMo at least once. Even if you don’t succeed, what you’ll learn about yourself and your writing process will make the journey well worth it