I did it!  

I wrote 50,000 words in November. I am a NaNoWriMo Winner!

As I wrote in an earlier blog, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writers Month. It is a worldwide, online initiative to help writers achieve their goals. 

My NaNoWriMo project was not a novel; my project was to write content for this blog.  

My objectives were to: 

  • Practice writing longer first drafts—to get all my words out on a topic
  • Gain insight into my writing habits, style, and voice
  • Generate a pipeline of material for future blogs  

I’m pleased to report that I achieved the 50,000 word count on Monday, November 30–the last day of the event. 

The NaNoWriMo “Winner” swag bag is modest but worth it: a digital badge that goes on my profile; a certificate (that I fill out and print at home); and discounts on NaNoWriMo 2020 swag and special deals on writers’ products and services. 

The halo and flower badge on my profile icon was my prize for “winning” NaNoWriMo

I’ll be posting more about my NaNoWriMo2020 experience. For now, here are a few takeaways from my experience that I’ll want to keep in mind if I do it again next year:   

NaNoWriMo Takeaways

Thumbs-up on writing by hand. 

I can churn out more words with pen and paper than I can by typing. Many of those words will be edited out of the final piece. But for good, solid word production, uninhibited by spellcheck, self-editing, and Google rabbit holes, writing by hand is where it’s at.  

NaNoWriMo takes you at your word (count). At first, I thought I had to type every hand-written word into a document in order for it to “count” for NaNoWriMo.  Happily, they’re cool with self-reporting. No third-party or machine verification needed. 

I write 300 words per page. College ruled, give or take 25 words. I always estimate conservatively.

On a good spin, I can write 1,200 words in under an hour. This only happens in spurts, when I am well-fed, well-read, and have already had my walk.

My typical writing pace is 800 words an hour. By this math, NaNoWriMo took me about 62 hours of solid writing. 

I like to write in 45-90 minute sessions, once or twice a day most days. 

I hit the wall at 40,000 words. I got over it with a little help from my friends. I started the month knowing that I had a backlog of ideas swimming in my head that needed to get out on the page. That source dried up at about 40,000 words—three-fourths of the way there.  Here’s what helped: a) turning to my artist-heroes for inspiration (Anne Lamott; Lynda Barry, among others); b) calling friends for encouragement; and c) attending online writing sessions with fellow NaNoWriMo. 

A long first draft is still a long way from being finished.

I need to invest in a comfortable chair and/or a standing desk.

I’m not much of a story-teller, but I notice things.  

I have a lot to say about grapefruit.


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