It’s December, which means that NaNoWriMo is over! (Two weeks ago by now but, hey, life got a little busy.) So how did I do? Well, we had to visit the doctor for a small accident on the 1st and it took a couple days for things to get back to normal, setting my word count back a little bit. I had initially planned on writing 2,000 words per day, with one day a week for a break, and I figured there would be a few days where I didn’t hit my goals. I wasn’t too worried about a little hiccup at the start. At least, not until I got sick in the second week and fell even further behind.
I tallied my weekly word count on Sundays, which were also supposed to be my rest days, and the first week gave me a total of 6,000 words. Not terrible for 4 days of writing. I had to write on my “day off” since I wasn’t able to meet my goal on the 2nd due to the accident the day before, but it wasn’t a bad start. Unfortunately, I only got 5,500 words for the full 7 days of the second week. I got sick in the middle of it and definitely did not get anywhere close to where I wanted to be.
Week #3 wasn’t much better since I ended up being sick for a full seven days during this time period, but I did manage to write at least 100 words each day that I was down. It wasn’t the numbers I’d hoped to have, but I told myself those days weren’t an entire loss since I got at least something written everyday. In the end, I managed to reach a total of 7,000 words for the week once I started feeling better, so things started looking up again.
The fourth week went a hundred times better and I actually made a significant dent in my word count. I had a satisfying number of 12,515 words by the end of the week, but there were only 5 days left in the month and I still had a lot to write if I wanted to win. At this point, with all the weeks added up, I had 31,015 words written and 18,985 to go. I honestly had no idea if I had that many words in me – not with such a short amount of time time write them in – but I pushed forward.
The next 5 days were sleepless and full of anxiety. I got sick again, which kept me from reaching my new daily goals for 2 more days, and I just about gave up on NaNoWriMo right then. There was no way I was going to be able to write 18,000 words in 3 days. Honestly, I felt a little bit sorry for myself. I went into this challenge decently prepared, and with every intention of writing as much as I possibly could, but it seemed like the Universe was against me no matter how much I wanted to write.
I logged into Twitter to share my misgivings and saw several other writers talking about how many words they still had left, but they planned to keep on going until the end no matter what they ended up with and I was inspired to keep trying. At this stage, I really doubted that I was going to make it but I’d reached the point of accepting that it would be alright if I didn’t get 50,000 words. 32,000+ was still a great amount to have written in one month and I knew I could be proud at that accomplishment.
So how did the last 3 days go?
I MADE IT! With seconds to spare, I hit 50,000 and officially won my first full NaNoWriMo! I have no idea how I managed to pull out a win at the last moment, but it definitely included next to no sleep. The day after, I was so tired that I ended up napping for almost the entire day. I do remember a similar feeling after Camp Nano in July, but not to this degree… This felt like I’d been hit by a bus, and every part of my being hurt when I moved. Or tried to think.
So what did I learn?
I am exceedingly grateful that I had a detailed outline before I started writing because there’s no way that I would have finished otherwise with all of the distractions and other unfortunate events that came up. (Accident, sickness, deaths in the family, computer problems, etc.) Preparation beforehand was the key to catching up once I fell so far behind. I always knew exactly where I was at in my story whenever I sat down at the computer. I’m not sure that I would ever attempt NaNoWriMo, with the intent of winning, without adequate preparation ahead of time.
What would I do differently?
Avoid getting sick? I have no idea how feasible that goal is, considering that November seems to be when all those annoying little bugs get passed around, but one can hope. Aside from that, I think I would dig a little deeper in my preparation efforts by deep cleaning the house. I did a good bit of cleaning beforehand, but it wasn’t enough with everything else that went on during the month. I’d also prep meals in advance, save up for milestone rewards, and have as much of the research done as possible in advance of November 1st. My outline was pretty good, so I’d do the same thing there, but I definitely wish that I had done research on certain aspects before NaNoWriMo started. I ended up with several question marks and placeholders in scenes where my knowledge was lacking.
Will I participate in NaNoWriMo again?
Absolutely! Having made it through this year with all of the challenges that came up, I’m confident that I have what it takes to tackle another one. (It’s amazing what you can do through sheer force of will, though, hopefully, next time will be smoother sailing!) Even if I didn’t win each time, I would still want to participate for the simple fact that there are so many people working toward the same goal and it’s so inspiring to face the challenge alongside them. My hope is that I will continue to learn and grow with each attempt, and in such a way that it expands and improves my everyday writing. Any words written are a success, and it’s so cool to see people pushing their limits and discovering that they have what it takes to write tens of thousands of words in a month. It’s a fantastic event and I’m so glad that I was able to participate this year!