What I learned from writing 75,000 words in 25 days: A NaNoWriMo adventure

NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner

Wow. I did it. I won.  Not just “regular” NaNoWriMo, but my own extreme version.  I mean…  Dang. Yeah.

I must confess I didn’t think I could actually do this. I wanted to push my boundaries and challenge myself, sure, but the part of me that set this goal was tiny, quiet, and alone. I mean, I barely managed to write 35,000 words during my first shot at National Novel Writing Month; shooting for 75,000 was laughable. But here we are.

I wrote an entire first draft for a novel in under 30 days. Holy shit.

As someone who struggles with celebrating their own successes, I need to take a second to bask in this accomplishment.


Okay, done with that. On to the interesting part: what I learned.

Extreme NaNoWriMo 2014 - Mirror of Ashes

If you take a look at the progress chart for the month, a couple of things pop out.

Thing 1:  I wrote every weekday, as planned, at least 1400 words. That’s pretty reflective of my attitude going into the challenge: “this is work,” rather than “this is a fun hobby fueled by a magical muse.” Even when I was sick or melting down, I still wrote. I made the time, and it paid off. Persistence over resistance.

Thing 2: I am way more motivated by stickers than I thought. I caught myself a couple of times pushing through the desire to quit for the day because I wanted that shiny piece of paper on my wall.  Using the progress chart – a visual representation of progress – helped immensely. Made it more real somehow.

Thing 3: You can’t see this on the chart, but it’s worth noting that, apart from the 5K+ days, I never wrote for more than four hours a day. As an author without a dayjob or children, this represents about half my allotted working day. Which is huge. Thanking the magic of wordsprints for that, plus a dollop of experience with chapter outlining.

That’s all cool, but what does it mean? I hear you say.

Basically, it means that instead of spending 3 months on the first draft of a book, if I knuckle down, I can crank it out in 1 month. That takes the turnaround time per book from about 9 months to about 4 or 5, if I play my cards right. Essentially, it doubles my publishing potential.

It’s also taught me I don’t have to be exhausted by my work. This is hard to put into words. Something’s shifted. Where before I’d be wiped out, unable to do anything else, if I wrote more than 3K a day, this month I’ve had an active social life, romantic life, and spiritual life in conjunction with my writing life. This is big for me. I still need to learn how to juggle multiple projects within the biz (like blogging, other stories, etc) but because I did this, I can do that. It’s only a matter of time.

And can I give a quick shout-out to God? If you’re new, you’ve likely not heard me talk about spirituality before, but waaaaaay back in the Apples & Porsches days (holla!), I used to talk about it a lot. That may happen again. But seriously: Without literal divine intervention, there’s no way I could’ve pulled this off or carry the lessons forward. I serve a creative deity, y’all, and realizing that God’s my collaborator in all things made this work not just doable but a joy. Such a change from the torment of the last book’s birth. Praise.


TL;DR: I challenged myself and busted boundaries I didn’t think I could. It means new levels of productivity and happiness in my life, which is good news for me and for you!

Huzzah! *throws confetti*

As always, my dearest readers, thank you for being here for me. You may not think you matter in the day to day functioning of my writing life, but you so very much do. I wouldn’t have half the motivation to improve and increase if I didn’t know you were out there, waiting for new material and cheering me on to success. Thank you.

And now, the official I-freaking-did-it micdrop. Because awesome.

chang mic drop



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