What I Learned Writing 50,176 Words In One Month

You may remember about 30 days ago, we posted that we were tackling National Novel Writing Month.

How did it go?

Alice got part way through but realized she wanted to get more organized and do this during a time of year when she didn’t have so many family obligations going on. (If you’ve ever been to the state of Maine in March, you’ll completely understand her point.)

I decided that despite missing about ten days of writing due to a business trip and Thanksgiving, I was going to do this anyway.

Consistent productivity? Nope. Got it done? Yes.

Consistent productivity? Nope. Got it done? Yes.

A few interesting things:

If you finish, you’re a winner.

One of my writer friends scoffed at the idea that you could write a book in a month. Probably at the way I would scoff at a beginner who told me they were going to design a website in a month.

Look, this isn’t Shakespeare. I know that, everyone who attempts this knows that. For about a week, you think your little book is going to be a best seller but by week two, you realize you are in the trenches and you just need to survive.

The point of an intense period with a deadline is to get you started. It’s like doing a Detox; it’s not something you are going to do indefinitely but something you do for a period of time to better yourself and maybe have some kind of positive outcome. When I submitted my word count and got my little winner badge this morning, I was pretty excited and did feel like a winner, even if I would need years of editing and rewriting before it might be finally published.

You learn to tolerate spelling and other small errors.

I’m pretty good about not letting small things bother me. A dirty mug on the sink, the idea of finishing a work project I thought I’d get done today tomorrow, I can let it go.

But when you are on a tear and see a spelling error you could easily stop and fix now get underlined, you have a dilemma: deal with the small thing now (what every productivity expert tells you to do) or keep going with your ideas and worry about that stuff later (what you actually need to do). I changed the spelling of my main character’s name and her workplace twice accidentally but that’s what ‘Find and Replace’ is for during editing. Just get it down!

At one point I wrote something terrible like ‘and there was no putting Pandora back in that box.” I rolled my eyes at myself and just kept going.

The story writes itself once you’ve helped it along.

At a certain point, you’ll notice if you get your mind in the habit of doing something (like writing 500 words in the morning before work), your brain seems to work on it on the subconcious level. I say this because otherwise how do you explain that you suddenly write a paragraph even you aren’t expecting.

An example? I was writing at one point when one of my shy characters stood up for herself and left the room full of people. I was as surprised as if I had been watching a movie… except I was actually writing this. You go Clara! I wanted to say. I was proud that she did something I didn’t expect her to be capable of doing. It was very weird. The character I didn’t like got arrested. I knew you couldn’t trust that Buffy!

I would say all this is like an out of body experience: something kind of cool but a little unsettling.

Don’t let getting behind depress you.

If you notice my graph above, you’ll see I wrote almost half the novel in the last five days. It’s amazing how motivating a self imposed deadline with a badge you get at the end can be. If you want to keep your sanity, I wouldn’t go so far as suggesting writing 20,000 words in three days but know that it can be done. It is physically possible. But they won’t be Shakespeare.

Congratulations to all the other NaNoWriMo participants. What am I going to do with all my spare time? I’m sure I’ll find something!

Curious what the book is about? It has no title but it’s about a woman who starts an anonymous dating blog and it suddenly gets national attention. Will she come out as who she really is? Or will she have to remain behind a pen name forever?

I’d like to thank J. of Blog Sexier/Budgets Are Sexy for his tips three years ago about starting a blog that made me think ‘What if I would have?” and Matt Baya for some technical tips helping me figure out how someone would carefully stay anonumous blogging. I’d also like to thank Derrick Sekulich for cooking me dinner and otherwise helping me keep life running without one complaint. I’d also like to thank several Facebook friends who contributed bad dating stories for my character to blog about. I had many in my past but apparently not enough to fill this book.

Nicole Ouellette
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she's not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *