Last night I hit 51,000+ words. Whoohoo!
I won the National Novel Writing Month challenge this year!!
First, this being my 9th year participating and having won the challenge at least 4 or 5 times prior, I switched it up for 2014:
- I started off with a non-fiction book that centered around my profession of Customer Service and Technical Support, which I’ve been doing for the past 20+ years.
- I wrote a general outline ahead of time (i.e. Chapter 10: Training the Support Staff)
- Each chapter had three sections as a placeholder framework (with zero additional notes or outline):
- Content (what I wanted to say on the chapter subject)
- I knew who my audience was going to be, which helped me better focus my thoughts on each chapter
- That is it! I set the timer and filled in each of the three chapter sub-sections through discovery writing.
- I then did another loose outline of several short-stories
- Title of story
- General idea in 2-3 lines
- That is it! I set the timer and did discovery writing again, versus having a very detailed outline for each scene like I normally do for fiction writing
When writing the non-fiction piece — which I know the material very well, since I do that work day-in, day-out — my writing speed was up over 2,000 words per hour and sometimes peaking near 2,300 words per hour.
Discovery fiction writing averaged me about 1,400 words per hour (yes, I tracked all of this each day!). I think my discovery fiction writing may have been less than 1,400 words/hr if I hadn’t already practiced writing fast with the non-fiction piece. For me, it was helpful in the end to start off the challenge strong and get in the habit of writing fast by writing something I know very well.
Second, I repeated several daily affirmations to myself:
- I’m a prolific writer.
- I’m a best selling author.
- I have a growing, intimate relationship with the living God; I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ; and I surrender to the Holy Spirit working in and through me.
This was my first time actually applying the use of daily affirmations. It was interesting (to say the least) how many days I didn’t want to write or spend time with God. But as I repeated the affirmations, I was reminded that time is short and if I’m lazy today, then that is one more day lost in achieving my goals and becoming a better person or a better writer.
Also, this is the first year, in three years, I did not participate in NaNoWriMo with several co-workers. In previous years it was fun doing this with people I was around all day long. The problem is, two of those three years I did not hit my writing goal. I had a lot of fun talking with co-workers about writing, but I did a lot less actual words to paper. Thus the affirmations, helped me stay focused as I participated this year, for the most part, on my own.
In the end, the affirmations helped me get up off my butt and make time to write, make time to spend time marketing eBooks and make time to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer.
Third, I didn’t do it completely on my own, but better controlled the “hanging out time”. I attended several Write-In’s with local writer’s groups. This is where other NaNoWriMoers got together to chat and write. This was motivational as there was some friendly competition among several writers to see who could stay ahead in the month-to-date word count. Thus the time was more about writing than about talking about writing and it showed in everyone’s word count.
Fourth, I supported NaNoWriMo by purchasing a t-shirt. This helps NaNoWriMo keep this great challenge happening each year and some of the proceeds may go to helping illiteracy in the world. At the same time, the t-shirt may seem like a little thing to some, but for me it was as if I put on my Author’s uniform, which helped me better mentally to sit down and write.
In conclusion, I had a lot of fun again this year, even though it was a lone activity for the most part. The reality is, writing is a loner hobby or loner job when you think about it. It’s in people reading our writing that we can genuinely connect with others.
December starts several new phases in this process of being a writer:
- Time to critique, edit and revise what I wrote in November
- Time to start another writing project, so I can stay consistent with writing at least 1,000 new words a day
If you’ve never participated in National Novel Writing Month before, don’t worry, because you’ll get another chance this spring when Camp NaNoWriMo kicks off. You could also simply host your own NaNoWriMo for you and/or for some fellow writers. If you aren’t currently writing regularly, spend December outlining, then set a New Year’s resolution to write, write, write.