Bye Bye NaNoWriMo. Thanks for the Writing Habit.

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I did it! I won NaNoWriMo 2015. This is my 3rd win.

I did it! I won NaNoWriMo 2015. This is my 3rd win.

So another NaNoWriMo has come and gone. And I’m proud to say that I stared into the depths of its hell, into those menacing, piercing black eyes and I slayed that beast. My third NaNoWriMo win in 4 years of being a participant.

For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s where slightly off balanced writers who need their heads examined, write a novel of 50,000 words in one month. That being the month of November. The month that just past. If you read my earlier posts, you’d totally know what NaNoWriMo is, but I’m not shaming you or anything. Okay, I’m totally shaming you. Anyway, suffice it to say, it’s a pretty big important part of my world, where I pretty much give up any semblance of a social life or a clean house and my family ends up eating a lot of take out. November is when I’m totally focused on writing, because I’m crazy and I have this constant need to tell the stories of the voices that are in my head.

Basically, NaNoWriMo is the writer’s equivalent to a marathon. At the end of it, I’m completely exhausted, my bones ache from all the sitting and my arms have gone numb and I have pains all through the tendons. My brain is probably something akin to tapioca pudding. It’s late nights and early mornings. There were so many times when I wanted to stop. I wondered why I was torturing myself. There I was with 2300 words left to write and I hit my brick wall. It literally takes every ounce of strength to force yourself to keep going. But I dug deep and with some encouragement from my son, I was able to continue on, cross the finish line and stand proudly in the winner’s circle. Or maybe it’s a square. Trapezoid? My eyes are so blurry I can’t really tell. Anyway, I completed my 50,000 words – 51,533 to be exact and I’m a winner for 2015.

It’s amazing how good it feels when you accomplish something that you have to commit to like that. When there’s such a struggle and you don’t think you’re going to make it, but you dig deep and then you do. For me, it’s such a rewarding personal accomplishment as a writer.

So what did I learn from this year’s NaNo? Well, this year they had a whole whack of badges that you could earn for reaching various writing milestones. One of the new ones was to update your word count for 30 days straight. Translation: You have to write each and every single day during the month of November. Each day, no skipping. It was a really big challenge to achieve that. For the most part, my normal habit was to skip whole work weeks at a time and write like mad on the weekends to try to catch up.

Now it’s completely crazy, but I was hell bent and determined to win that badge. Because I’m five years old and I like to have gold stars on my work for validation. But in trying to earn that badge, I learned the importance of writing every day of making writing a habit. It’s something, that if you truly want to be a writer, you have to make that commitment to do. Every day, no matter what, find the time to write. Even if it’s for ten minutes, even if you only write a couple of hundred words. The importance is to keep the momentum going and to keep the words flowing. Keep going until it’s done.

My novel is far from complete, but it’s a pretty good start. NaNoWriMo also gave me the freedom to play with my scenarios. I took the stance that this was my own personal sandbox, to test out scenes and scenarios with no obligation to commit to them for the final story. Whenever I got stuck on a section and didn’t know where to go with it, I’d leave and continue on with another scene. If I really got stuck, I just wrote a random scene, not caring how out of left field it may have been or that it didn’t necessarily fit with my story. The result is that I got to know my characters better. I know a lot of those scenes won’t make it to the final cut of the novel, but it allowed me to explore my characters further, see them in a different light and ultimately achieve a deeper understanding of them.

I’m taking two days off to allow my broken body to heal from the frenzy of typing and sitting, but then it’s back to work on the book. And not just thinking about it. Actually putting words down onto the paper, because that’s the only way this story is going to get told. And it’s a story that needs to be told and I need to tell it.

It’s December now, so I’m off to go get some sleep and then it’s back to writing.