NaNoWriMo 2015: What I learned

I was looking back at my old scrivener files and the first year I started NaNoWriMo was 2012. Life has changed a lot and I’ve learned a lot too.

This year is the first time I planned and developed so much before November 1st. When I started in 2012 it was pantsing all the way – and it was crap! This time I feel like I have something worth keeping and editing. Interesting that. Such a surprise. (Maybe there’s sarcasm here.) Last few times I attempted NaNo I lost. Either health problems or doctor appointments or both got in the way. I tried Camp Nano in May 2014 but then spent about 4 weeks recovering from a really tricky lumbar puncture. Last year’s NaNoWriMo I caught a cold the first week of November and spent the rest of the month SICK. Anyway.

When you have any or all of the above: chronic illness(es), easily sick, chronic pain, cognitive problems, fatigue issues, dietary restrictions; then regular writing advice about how to write and how much to write isn’t helpful. Self care must come first. Always. Read advice about writing itself. Read books on how to improve your writing. Read books on how stories are organized/developed. Don’t listen to someone say you must write every day to be a writer. If you identify as a #spoonie, someone living a #chroniclife, or another hashtag I have forgotten (see what I did there?) then you have to figure out writing for yourself. It sucks but we are used to the universe not being fair, most of the time.

You must write to be a writer. It’s that simple.

I managed to write, on average (guessing didn’t do math) 3000 words about once a week. I didn’t know I had that in me and it was easier because I planned and had a more developed idea before I started writing. But there are also days where you just have to stop looking at the words. Some days I was barely able to get out 1000 words. 1000 words is still 1000 words.

I did not attend any local write ins for a variety of reasons. I did however, pay attention to @nanowrimo and @nanowordsprints on Twitter. I also made a friend online to check in with daily. We were like each other’s cheerleaders. I’ve grown to appreciate the nanowrimo subreddit as well. Last, I joined in on the local nanowrimo group that has their own FB page. There’s also the official nanowrimo forums but they are overwhelming for me. It’s like by the time I figure out the right thread to post in I’ve forgotten what I want to say.

A lot of people (writers) will recommend a dedicated writing place. I can’t manage that. I don’t have dedicated transportation right now so sometimes I can’t leave the house. I do, however, have a laptop so I can write in different places. It’s important for me to not get stuck in the metaphorical rut and sometimes write in a different place. But, as great as a laptop, a laptop in your lap is probably bad posture. It only took one night of typing away on the laptop in my lap to learn I can’t do that (anymore). Bad posture is worse than not stretching. Which is another thing. Stretch and move about regularly. Stretch arms and wrists too.

Also important, but I think I did fairly decent here, is remembering to eat and drink regularly. Snack if necessary, don’t automatically assume caffeine is (or isn’t) ok. (For me, I can’t tolerate much at all.) While sugary snacks are ok, you can’t do that every damn day either.

Last, there was a number of random things I learned about writing. Don’t force yourself to organize your writing as you’re writing it if that is slowing you down. I did not write linear and I did not write chapters. I wrote scenes. This will make editing a little more interesting – or easier – depending.

And remember good book openings are just like porn, you know it when you see (read) it.

Author: Histamine Queen

Nerd, wife, knitter, writer, cat mom, and comic book reader w/masters of science in Applied Sociology. I have histamine intolerance, lots of food allergies and sensitivities - including gluten. And I have multiple sclerosis fibromyalgia, asthma, drug allergies, and migraines. Basically, I have a collection of invisible chronic health problems. I don't just survive these things, but sometimes I do hate them because I see doctors so often that keeping healthy and staying full time employed is currently impossible.