What I Learned from NaNoWriMo this Year!

blank notebookI found it harder to get into NaNoWriMo this year than the last. It wasn’t until the third week that I hit my stride and started making significant progress. And then I had to go several days beyond the end of November to finish my novel. Why? I asked myself.

Why was it so much harder this year than the last two?

As I struggled those first two weeks, I realized that two years ago, I had recently been laid off from my positions, putting me into “early retirement”. I was not blogging on a regular basis, didn’t have a website to maintain and was only starting to learn about self-publishing and marketing. I had yet to fill up my time so it was easier to focus on writing.

Now, two years later, I’m blogging twice a week, have a website to maintain, including attending WordPress meetups to keep learning, and I’m promoting my books. I recently released one of my novels as an audiobook and had co-authored a book for a local non-profit that needed to be proofed. I also had volunteer responsibilities that took up time as well as additional family responsibilities. More and more of my “free” time has been gobbled up. Is it any wonder I found it so much harder this year to set aside not just the time, but the mental acuity to focus on a novel?

Nature abhors a vacuum, and apparently so do I. It’s not simply a matter of me saying no to requests. I volunteer, then lament my lack of time to do other things.

But I also realize that NaNo isn’t meant to encourage writing for one month, then go back to not writing at all. It’s meant to jumpstart your writing if you are blocked and to encourage writing throughout the year. And that it has done for me. I’m writing on a regular basis, as well as editing, revising, proofing and marketing.

Will I do NaNoWriMo next year? I don’t know. As I struggled to get going this year, I thought, no. In that, that November writing stint has reminded me of the importance of writing all year, and the need to guard my time, lest I give it all away, it was well worth it.

What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year? You don’t have to reach 50,000 words to benefit from the process.

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