Updated: Aug 30, 2020
Hi everyone! I thought it could be helpful for other writers to share my journey of participating in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo). For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo takes place throughout the month of November. The goal for each writer who participates is to have 50,000 words, approximately the minimum word count for a novel, written by the end of November. NaNoWriMo allows you to track your writing progress, your daily and total word count, as well as giving out badges when you complete milestones. There is also an entire online community of fellow writers you can interact with and local events to meet up in person.
In 2015, when I was having trouble finishing my first novel, I heard about NaNoWriMo and wanted to give it a try. I decided I would begin writing a new novel, so I would be starting fresh. The first time I participated in NaNoWriMo, I was working as a freelance editor, so I didn’t have a strict work schedule to adhere to, which made it easy to write almost every day. There were a few days when I was sick with strep throat and got behind on my word count, but I was able to make up for it after recovering. Since then, I have realized being an author while working a full-time job is possible; you just have to make the time for it. I successfully completed NaNoWriMo in November 2015 with 50,090 words for my novel “The Long Shadow on the Stage.”
One of the ways NaNoWriMo helped me complete my novel was by having a daily word count goal. I knew I had to write a certain amount each day and if I didn’t, I would fall behind and have to write more afterwards to stay on track. I think the best part of NaNoWriMo for me was having an end goal. I knew I only had the month of November to write 50,000 words. I also think feeling like I was in a competition motivated me to complete the novel. Prior to participating in NaNoWriMo, I didn’t set enough writing goals for myself and therefore had trouble completing my first novel. I am the type of person who needs goals to stay focused. Once I reach my goals, I feel accomplished and want to push myself further to surpass my initial goals and prove to myself what I am capable of achieving.
In 2016, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the second time. This time, I used November to revise “The Long Shadow on the Stage” for the first time. Instead of making daily writing goals, I had daily revision goals, which helped immensely to begin the revision process for my novel. Because I had written the first draft in only one month, there was a lot of work to be done to clean up the story, develop the characters more, and tie together plot details. I ended the month with 52,173 words.
After 2016, I took a break from writing for awhile because I got married and started a full-time job working as a Content Writer for a start-up company. Having a job where I write and edit for the majority of the day made it difficult for me to find the motivation and creativity to write after getting home from work, but that’s a story for another day!
Overall, I would highly recommend participating in NaNoWriMo to any writer (first-time author or seasoned author) because having daily, weekly, and monthly writing goals helps writers stay focused. Also, learning how to manage your time (even while working a full-time job and/or having a family) is incredibly important if you want to be an author. Good luck to anyone who is working on a novel and trying to find the motivation and time to finish it; you’ve got this!