6 Things I Learned from NaNoWriMo 2011

#1   I am an author
I’m not just a wannabe author who writes as a hobby.  Yes, I have a traditional full time job that is not writing for a living and yes, I haven’t had any of my fiction published yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a writer.  This was really the first time I said to my friends and family, “I am writing a book.”  It was a lot harder than I realized to claim my writerly identity and thanks to National Novel Writing Month, (and Google + if I’m being honest) I can say it – I am an author.

#2   I have a community
As a first year participant in NaNoWriMo, I was welcomed with open arms by newbies and veterans alike.  I have made a huge number of connections to other authors as we slogged through the ups and downs of trying to craft a novel in a month.

#3   If I let go of control, it’s easier to get my first draft on paper
Having a word goal allowed me to just WRITE and not over-analyze the words before committing them to the screen.  I am my own worst enemy at trying to write / edit / analyze my work all at the same time before actually leaving it on the page. Having a 50K word deadline hanging over my head pushed me to ignore the editor living in my brain and just write write write.

#4   There is time to write (almost) every day
As I mentioned above, I work a full time job and I also have a number of evening commitments for work, serve on a Board of Directors, etc etc.  It’s easy to look at my schedule and think that there just isn’t enough time to write on a daily basis.  NaNo pushed me to reexamine my schedule and find the windows of time that I could commit to writing.

#5   Embrace the mantra: The first draft will suck.
I had to fully embrace the fact that at the end of November I would have 50K+ words with a confusing plot, not enough character development, boring descriptions, horrible grammar and a million other problems.  Freeing myself of the need to create a decent and readable draft had the unpredictable result of enhancing its readability.  It still needs a TON of work, but loosening the reins allowed the writing to flow much more effectively.

#6   Shared motivation makes a huge difference.
I used Google + to great effect for shared inspiration and motivation.  The hundreds of people in my NaNoWriMo circle, all of us sweating and toiling toward the same goal, offered me oodles of positive energy and helped propel me to the winner’s circle.

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