I always learn a handful of things every NaNoWriMo, even if the month is a failure. This year what I learned was mostly related to life, there were a few smaller things that related to my writing process.
The biggest thing I’ve finally learned from NaNoWriMo is to stop comparing myself to others. I’m disabled, my hands and wrists cannot handle writing or typing thousands and thousands of words a day. My back and neck can’t handle it either, even sitting on the couch. Maybe I’ve finally accepted it.
The second biggest thing I learned is that NaNoWriMo is about creating a habit and through multiple Camp NaNoWriMo sessions and last month I’ve definitely created writing habits. But I feel like NaNoWriMo is also about accepting your limitations and remembering your self care… this is part of making writing a habit.
On top of that, my depression has been severe since the DST time change. It’s probably seasonal affective disorder and it’s never been this bad in the past so I was surprised. However, I discovered in November that writing was the one thing that was guaranteed to put me in a better mood, even if I didn’t want to write. I know right? Hard to believe, even if I forced myself to sit down with my laptop and work on my story, I ended up in a better mood afterward. Even if it was just a few hundred words. Learning writing will improve my mood was fucking huge.
Then, beyond the depression, is the anxiety and second guessing. I’ve realized I second guess myself when I’m brainstorming or making any kinds of decisions in writing and sometimes you just have to say enough is enough. This is a thing I’ve learned because it’s become more obvious for me after writing for the 30 days in November.
Other things are more specific. For example, starting a new writing session is difficult because I wasn’t necessarily working on one scene and so I don’t have a starting place in mind when I stopped writing. I’ve realized making lists to keep track of what part of the plot or outline I’ve started working on helps. I really like the outline format used in this video. For some reason the grid break down she uses in the video clicked in my brain. I also make short – one line – notes about what I did every single time I sat down to write.
Hopefully your NaNoWriMo was a success. Now, for all those writers out there who didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo … embrace what you have so far and keep writing! To everyone else who did win? Get to revising!
As of today I have 18,129 words in my Scrivener project after NaNoWriMo.