What I Learned from NaNoWriMo 2015: 4 Truths

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Mountain summit covered in clouds

With this post, I’m trying to recap my findings in case it would help someone. And of course there’s a little bit of bragging, so be prepared. 🙂

Truth #1. NaNoWriMo is fun

It really is, guys. Those of you who have never tried it, you’ve missed a world! During that November, you could literally feel the sparks of creative energy flying around in the air. Everywhere in the world! You know I’m in Russia, in cold Saint Petersburg, but even here I felt an amazing urge to make something up, write it and share. The excitement is like a train going at full speed towards the destination.

It’s fun to be part of a community of such determined and like-minded people. I’ve never felt like this in my whole life. I’ve never had so many people around me having similar interests and passions, looking at the same goal in the distance and going forward, step by little step.

Truth #2. NaNoWriMo unleashes freedom

NaNoWriMo have also been fun for me because of my choice to write the book in English. I told you earlier how I decided to challenge myself even more – well, that wasn’t actually my idea, rather my wife’s.

Anyway, I started thinking in English and just kind of hearing all those dialog lines and descriptions. I was definitely in the flow! I would start cooking dinner, and between chopping down vegetables and frying chicken, I would run to my iPad to jot down some notes. Often I wrote down whole pieces of a dialog, 5-6 lines with tags.

One day when me and my wife were going to hike in the park or something like that, I sit down just to write a small description of a scene saying, “Honey, I just need to write a paragraph.” And what do you think? In about 15-20 minutes I ended up with the whole scene written, about 650 words. It’s incredible for me comparing that to my standard output of 500-600 words in a couple of hours.

Truth #3. NaNoWriMo is hard

About in the middle of November I started slipping off into thinking about my first book “How to Save a Princess” and planning how to enhance it and restructure. Then I started writing that first book abandoning my “Groozyland.” Then I had some life obstacles and let them take my time away.

Here’s my NaNoWriMo calendar:

My Bookbaby Nanowrimo 2015 calendar

That cool PDF was provided by BookBaby. I totally love them. But even this colorful tool couldn’t bring me to sleep less, get up earlier and abandon my distractions. Sadly, as you can see, after the first week I started writing less and less and I couldn’t bring myself to write anything on the weekends. I just rested after the work week, walking with my wife, watching movies, I think, I don’t really remember. But the calendar shows I did nothing for the book.

So by the end of the month, I had only 15,500 words of my novel. I let myself off the hook and totally missed the goal. Failure and shame. Failure and shame…

Truth #4. NaNoWriMo isn’t about winning

Well, someone could argue with me. But that’s my truth, anyway. One plays the game to win it, the other plays it just for the sake of the process, to enjoy themselves.

My Nanowrimo word count screenshot

So I was a huge failure, I made only 15,500 words, right? But wait a minute, those words I wrote in English! For the first time in my life I was writing fiction in English and it felt good and natural. Like I was native. Well, almost. Of course I had to back up my writing with looking a word up in the dictionary or thinking how to say it better and if I even can say it in English with the syntax I was using.

So did I reach that novel summit? Not by a long shot. Did I fail? Certainly not! I’ve got a good book at my hands, a bit of outline, lots of notes, a few mind-maps. Those are the drafts of a new project! Started, most importantly, in English. And even though I failed to make 50,000 words, I can and even must celebrate my results. Because it was really scary and at the same time so exciting to try my pen in English.

This month gave me a great opportunity to test my writing and discipline. I lack the latter, but I’ve got plenty of the former. NaNoWriMo boosted my confidence in my writing. Hey, if I can write something exciting and intriguing in English, even if only for myself at this point, I’m good! I read a lot of books in English, I read only in English now and I believe that consuming of content put something in store in the back of my mind. So that now I can get it out there and use to create content. Not as good as native English-speaking writers, of course, but hey, at some point everybody needs a good editor, right? Mine will just have more work to do. 🙂

How was your NaNoWriMo? Tell me in comments below!

Featured image credit: Georg Nietsch