7 Lessons I Learned from Losing NaNoWriMo

HELLO ALL OF YOU! πŸ˜€ I know I’ve been gone for a long time, and I’ve hardly posted, but I really do want to get back into blogging at least once a week, if not twice a week like I used to do before.

So this November I participated in NaNoWriMo (as I’m sure many of you did also), writing my novel,Β Battle Song,Β and I didn’t win. My goal was 50,000, and I only got 37,509 words, which I’m still pretty proud of. But despite that, I think I learned the most from this NaNoWriMo, the one I’ve lost, than from any of the others, so I’m going to share some of those lessons with you (along with some pictures I took, since I was in the mood for photography)!

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Lesson #1: Manage Your Time

This is probably the most important lesson for winning NaNoWriMo in general. If you can stay on track and write the specific 1667 words a day, then you’ll win! Obviously, I didn’t do this. Not only was I busy some of the days, but the other days I procrastinated instead of writing and my time slipped away from me.

The NaNoWriMo goal for 50,000 words is created for a person who actually has a normal life, and there really was enough time for me to be able to do it…I just didn’t. So, yet another reminder that I need to figure out how to spend my time wisely. πŸ™‚


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Lesson #2: Get Enough Sleep

First of all, let’s just admire my adorable little stuffed puppy! Isn’t she so cute?

This was a problem I had, and still have, whether or not it’s NaNoWriMo. Around 9 p.m., I lose motivation to do anything, be it writing or homework or even taking a shower. I would force myself to stay awake, telling myself I needed to write, but I learned that if I waited, I got nothing done, and not only that, I was even more tired the next day.

The biggest lesson I learned from this was really just to go to bed and do better tomorrow instead of stressing about doing it tonight.


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Lesson #3: Love Your Characters

It was about halfway through November, and I decided that I needed to figure out what was going on in my novel, because I’d written less than 10,000 words. Since the walls in my room are mostly full, I decided that I would tape papers and stuff about my characters and plot on my window, just for fun.

I started off by describing my main character, Amrya il Osamarii, and the things she learns by the end of the book. As I elaborated more on the scenes that caused this, I found that I loved her even more than I ever had before. She is so amazing.

After that, I worked on my two adorable princes and how each one of them affected her. (Also, I finally gave them names, hehe. The older one is named Rhys and the younger one is named Aeren.) I also had the cutest dream about Aeren and Amrya and how truly Aeren loved her and wanted to make her happy, and so after that I was sort of fangirling over my characters and it made it so much easier to write the story.


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Lesson #4: Love Your Story

After developing my characters,Β this step sort of fell into place. I loved my story because of my characters, and I loved my characters because of their story. I think this is such an important thing to remember during NaNoWriMo, to love your story, because if you don’t, nothing is going to happen.

But when you love your story, when you create characters you squee over, when you write in fairy tales and wars and adorable princes because that’s what you love to write about, that’s when the words start coming, and that’s when your story becomes so much better because of the love you’ve put into it.


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Lesson #5: Have Fun with It

This lesson is so important during NaNoWriMo! If you don’t have fun and have a positive attitude, then you’re not going to enjoy the entire month of November, stressing instead of writing. Instead, you have to find ways to have fun. Maybe for you, that means adding inside jokes into your writing or creating characters who make really great jokes. For me, this month, the fun things I did were to tape things on my window and do all of my story development in a rainbow array of Sharpies, not to mention writing scenes thatΒ were enjoyable and amusing to me.


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Lesson #6: Be Messy

It can be really hard to let yourself be messy. It was hard for me. I’d been working on revising and planning instead of drafting before NaNo started, so when it did, I was still in the mindset that everything I wrote had to be good. Writing became stressful, and it was really hard, especially when I didn’t know what was coming next.

It wasn’t until I finally allowed myself to be messy, that I told myself it truly didn’t matter Β if this draft was terrible, that I began to write as fast as I had during previous NaNos, and even beat some of my own records for writing speed.

Being messy lets you have freedom. Instead of trying to constrict yourself to only writing things well, you can let yourself go…and that’s really when the creative juices start to flow. Sometimes the messiest passages are where you find glimpses of the best writing you’ve ever done.


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Lesson #7: Challenge Yourself

Let’s be honest, NaNoWriMo is a challenge, one that sometimes seems impossible. And setting yourself to an impossible, or even a possible, standard is scary. It’s frightening to think that you might not make it, but you know what? When you challenge yourself, you will write more than you can possibly imagine.

I had two days left of NaNoWriMo and 25,000Β words left to write. I doubted I would win, but I kept going anyway. I gave myself as much time to write as I could, and by the end of NaNoWriMo, I kept typing away, ending up with 37,500 words, almost 13K more than I would have written had I given up two days away from the end.

So, I learned to challenge myself, to reach for the moon and land among the stars.


Tell me, if you did NaNoWriMo, how did it go? What did you write about? What lessons have you learned from doing NaNo or just from writing in general? And, lastly, what’s been going on in all your lives? It’s feels like ages since I’ve talked to any of you and I want to know how everyone is doing!

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26 thoughts on “7 Lessons I Learned from Losing NaNoWriMo

  1. Kellyn Roth December 8, 2016 / 6:32 PM

    #3, #4, and #5 are so true! They’re the only reasons I won Nano this year, honestly. I love my characters (almost obsessively), I love my story (to the point where it’s creepy … just kidding), and I let myself have fun with it. I just WROTE. And I added in some great scenes that I hadn’t intended to … although I also left out a couple in my fury of writing.

    I’m just the opposite from you. I never write well in the morning. By afternoon, I’m a little better. By evening, I’m running full kilt. And by around nine, I’m flying over the pages. I’m a super night owl. I function better after everyone’s asleep (another reason why I’m a creepy author … oh, boy, as if the ones I had already weren’t enough! πŸ˜‰ ). So yeah. I wrote somwhere around 8K words the last day, writing until midnight. :O That’s probably the biggest lesson I learned in NaNo (that I work best at night), although I won’t be able to. Sadly normal people (more importantly, my parents πŸ˜› ) sleep at night! Go figure!

    And then I also learned I work best from an outline. Not a super strict outline, but I definitely need some structure.

    Enough about me.

    You are an amazing photographer! How come we haven’t been treated with pictures such as those ones before?! πŸ˜› I mean, it looks so … professional and interesting and … it’s great. πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Kellyn Roth December 8, 2016 / 6:34 PM

      I’m gonna have to make a second comment because I typed that one up fast and forgot stuff. I was gonna say that one time I just picked a random word (umbrella) and ran with it and got this really cute scene from it.

      Also, Aeren is a great name! And so is Amyra. So … Aemyen? Aemyren? Amren? Amyren? I think I like the last one best …

      Or am I not supposed to be shipping at all. πŸ˜‰

      Like

      • Lana December 9, 2016 / 9:09 PM

        Yup, you can definitely ship it, hehe! πŸ˜€ And Peace said it was Ryare and she’ll defend that ship name until the end, but you can call it whichever name you desire.

        Like

      • Morgan @ studiesincharacter December 14, 2016 / 10:07 AM

        I find it usually best to agree with Peace’s ship names. They’re usually the best ones, anyway, hehe.

        Like

      • Lana December 14, 2016 / 6:00 PM

        Hehe, agreed. πŸ˜›

        Like

      • Lana December 9, 2016 / 9:19 PM

        I’m so glad that NaNoWriMo was so good for you! That’s awesome. πŸ˜€

        I’m definitely not an early bird, hehe, but I’m not a night owl, either. I think I’m just somewhere in between and I can only write when I have enough sleep… πŸ˜› My brother said that some people did a study and apparently night owls are generally richer than early birds, so…hehe, maybe that means you’ll be a really rich author. πŸ˜€

        I haven’t posted photos before because I really don’t do photography that often…it just struck me as fun for the post. So if I do take more photos, I’ll share them. Thanks for the compliments! πŸ˜€

        Ooh, a cute scene with an umbrella? I’m all for that, ehehe…. πŸ˜‰

        Thanks! I really love Aeren’s name, and Amrya’s too, though honestly half the time I’m not sure how to pronounce it.

        Hehe, yes, you can ship. πŸ˜€ They’re very adorable. (Peace said their ship name was Ryare, but you can use whichever one you want…Amyren is pretty great.)

        I think I’m going to be sharing some excerpts for a Spotlight post soon, so I might include a couple of the fun, slightly shippy parts and you’ll get to see some! πŸ˜€

        Anyway, thanks for the long comment! (And for always commenting in general.) You’re awesome!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kellyn Roth December 10, 2016 / 10:23 PM

        I wrote the first couple chapters of a fantasy novel, and I had a bunch of crazy character names … and yep. I haven’t the slightest idea how to pronounce them …
        Ryare is nice. Peace probably knows what she’s talking about. πŸ˜‰
        I saw the spotlight post … I’m gonna head over and read it now. Or … it might have to wait until tomorrow. I just got back from a sleepover/birthday party, and I’m exhausted. πŸ˜›
        Ah, thanks! You are, too! πŸ˜€

        Like

      • Lana December 10, 2016 / 11:10 PM

        Hehe, it’s a problem. Ooh, a fantasy novel. Was it that…that one with the…the hawk and the unicorn or something like that? *can’t remember what it was called*

        Hehe, yup.

        Wow. You’re so dedicated to blogging. I mean, if I got back from a party and was exhausted, I wouldn’t be commenting on other people’s posts, ehehe. πŸ˜›

        Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kellyn Roth December 11, 2016 / 1:41 PM

        Yeah, the hawk and the unicorn. Caught in a Spell. I let my BFF read it, and we spent quite a while trying to remember how ‘Alici’ was pronounced. And then ‘Wilhelm,’ ‘Taevian,’ and ‘Millum.’ They SEEM simple until you overthink it. πŸ˜‰
        It’s actually kinda relaxing for me to sit down and read a blog post and comment. πŸ˜€

        Like

      • Lana December 12, 2016 / 5:04 PM

        Ahh yeah, that’s what it was called! Hey, I remember Taevian…I liked him.

        Really? I think it’s relaxing to read the blog posts, but I usually start rambling when I start to comment, and after I finish I always go, “Wait, that took ten minutes? I don’t have time for that…” But I’m glad it’s relaxing for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kellyn Roth December 12, 2016 / 7:55 PM

        Well, rambling has a calming influence on me. It requires no thought. πŸ˜‰

        Like

      • Lana December 12, 2016 / 9:32 PM

        Hehe, rambling can be fun, especially rambling about my novels. If someone asked me about them, I could ramble about them all day…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kellyn Roth December 12, 2016 / 9:45 PM

        I oftentimes do! *guilty blush* Or all night, in the case of when my friends invite me over for sleepovers … poor things. πŸ˜›

        Like

      • Lana December 14, 2016 / 6:01 PM

        Hehe… *is guilty of this as well*

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Morgan @ studiesincharacter December 9, 2016 / 7:36 PM

    #3 is the truest thing I’ve ever heard, and it’s what makes all of the pitfalls and obstacles and frustrations of writing Cyberspace my favorite thing.

    What I learned about NaNoWriMo is I’m too much of a perfectionist and I can’t pants novels to save my life. Not anymore.
    …nah, mine was more frustrating than anything, and sometimes, it’s hard to acknowledge that I really couldn’t do it, because of school.

    Like

    • Lana December 9, 2016 / 9:11 PM

      Exactly! Characters are so awesome, and that’s what relates people to the stories…and ourselves to it. And when they’re awesome you can’t help but want to write the story.

      Hehe, pantsing is hard…the more I write the more I’m finding it’s easier to write with world and character development and half a vague outline.

      Aww, saddd. But at least you got to work on some Cyberspaaace at the end! πŸ˜€

      Like

      • Morgan @ studiesincharacter December 14, 2016 / 10:08 AM

        Yup. And there’s a certain appeal when they’re awesome in weird ways. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Daz.)

        Yeah, exactly. The problem is I never have the patience to get much world-building, oops.

        I did! And I’m really close to finishing! I hope!

        Like

      • Lana December 14, 2016 / 6:00 PM

        Let’s be honest, Daz is great.

        I love world building, but sometimes it frustrates me…eheh.

        YAYYY! πŸ˜€

        Like

      • Morgan @ studiesincharacter December 14, 2016 / 6:03 PM

        Well, I’m glad to know you think that.

        Yeah, heh… I usually just get bored, oops.
        We should world-build something together sometime.

        Like

      • Lana December 14, 2016 / 6:10 PM

        Yes, we should! That would be so fun! What would we world build, though?

        Like

      • Morgan @ studiesincharacter December 14, 2016 / 6:16 PM

        I’ve no clue. We could turn it into a collaboration novel/story/thing of some sort. Got any random plot bunnies floating around that you don’t think you’ll ever come back to but are still awesome?

        Like

      • Lana December 14, 2016 / 6:20 PM

        Oooh. Hmmm. -thinks- I dunno. Plot bunnies for world building or for something else?

        Like

      • Lana December 14, 2016 / 6:53 PM

        Yeah, probably, eheh.

        Like

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