Finishing My Hot Mess NaNoWriMo Project

It's the morning of December first and all I can think about is how tired I am and I want to go back to bed. Granted, that might be because I had to get up at 5:45am so I could get to work on time. But it's also because I just spent the last 30 days writing 50,000 words for my novel. 

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is officially done.


In the grand scheme of things, 50,000 words is a pretty short novel. If there are roughly 300 words on a page, that makes a 167 page book. About the length of The Great Gatsby. But, it's still a lot to do in a 30 day time period. 

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol (another short book) in six weeks which in a way was his own little NaNoWriMo.

Let's be real though - my novel is nothing close to the brilliance of Charles Dickens and his was published right away. Mine is no where near being complete or ready to be published. 

My novel about vampire Snow White is a hot mess. There's scenes where I'm not sure where they'll go yet. Large sections have parts where I literally typed in [insert some awesome stuff abut this character and an action sequence here] just so I could keep going. In a way, this draft is basically a very detailed outline. I have a lot of chapters and scenes which have actual dialogue and action and plot line. But I also have a lot which are just a paragraph summary of what I think I want to happen. Some of my characters don't even have names yet. 

I have no idea how my book is going to end. 

But, 50,000 words exist on the page. I can see the skeleton of a novel coming together. Some characters are coming to life in my head. Plot lines I didn't expect are popping up and bringing things together. 

In spite of the hot mess and how tired I am, I'm proud of myself. Last year's NaNoWriMo was the first time since 2008 that I didn't complete the goal of 50,000 words. While that's not the end of the world and ultimately that was what was best for me, I was still disappointed. Knowing that I sat down everyday and put words to the page this year (even if some days it was only a couple sentences) was exactly what I needed.

I've spent so much time revising the urban fantasy novel I started a few years ago I almost have forgotten how to start a book from scratch. It was a muscle I hadn't used in a long time. 

Contrary to popular belief, in order to be a successful writer you do not have to write every single day. But you do need to make it a regular habit, and sometimes doing it for 30 days in a row is what you need to get that habit going.

I needed this to get me going again. 

My relationship with NaNoWriMo has changed over the years. I remember the first few years I would sit on the website for hours commenting in the forums, checking my mail, and making new friends. We'd chat on Twitter and swap ideas. It was so fun to get to know other writers around the country and the world all jumping in not knowing what was going to happen. 

I don't spend as much time on the website and looking through the forums anymore, because I've learned how to brainstorm and get my ideas. I already have my writing friends I go to and we chat via Facebook messenger or text message or Twitter DMs to talk through our problems and cheer one another on as we draft. Not just in November, but all year. 

Part of me misses those early years because NaNoWriMo was such an exciting time. Almost like Christmas as a little kid. But now as an adult, I still love Christmas as much as ever - but it's not the same as when I was a child. The same is for NaNoWriMo. I still love this month, but since my writing habits have changed my relationship with it have changed as well. 

I was listening to the Writing Excuses podcast for their episode about NaNoWriMo at the start of the month, and they talked about whether or not they participated and if they did how they approached it. Something they pointed out is that NaNoWriMo is mainly geared for people who are first time novelists. Those who have always wanted to write a book but never actually did it. November is that push to finally get it done.

That's not me anymore. 

Not that people who have written novels before can't participate in NaNoWriMo. They totally can and do all of the time! But when I heard them talk about this, it made me feel better about how my relationship with the event has evolved and I don't have the same enthusiasm I once did.

It's because the original intent of the month isn't geared toward me anymore. In a way, I've graduated from it, and that's kind of a cool feeling.

I'm still so glad I participated this month, even if the hot mess of my rough draft makes me cringe. (But that's why they call them rough drafts- right?) Then as long as I still have new novel ideas each November, I'll still participate in NaNoWriMo each year. Or if not, I'll use it as a time to do some hard-core focusing on revisions and edits on whatever project I'm working on at the time. I love having the month long excuse of "sorry, I have to lock myself up in my room and write for a few hours cause I need to have this word count in." Not that I can't do that in other months, but when I have something a bit more official to add to it, people tend to be a tad more understanding of why they don't see me for weeks at a time. 

So, I did it. I wrote 50,000 words in the month of November. 

I'm going to take a break from noveling for a bit. For some people, they like to keep going through December and keep writing if their book isn't finished yet. If they still have the momentum, this is awesome because then it can get done. That's not the case for me. As much as I love the dedicated four weeks, I'm tired. I like taking December as a time to relax and enjoy the holidays. 

This doesn't mean I won't work on it at all. When I have the chance I'll do some polishing and cleaning up here and there. When I have ideas I'll jot them down and work on fleshing out some of those scenes I haven't finished yet.

Even when it comes to reading, I've started the habit of taking it easy in December. I've heard of people only re-reading favorites during December and I kind of love that idea. I'll read a few new books but that's just because I have some cheesy Christmas ones waiting for me on my Kindle. Other than that, I'm going to go back and read the ones that I love no matter how many times I pick them up. Or one I really enjoyed earlier this year that I want to experience again. 

Sometimes, even when we love something, we need a break from it. Time to relax and enjoy other things for a bit.

And maybe bask in the glow of saying "I did it."

Did you do NaNoWriMo this year? What big tasks have you accomplished recently? What are your plans for December?

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