Another NaNoWriMo Has Come and Gone: How I Measured Up

I had one goal this NaNoWriMo: finish a few days early. I didn’t need to finish super early, I would have been satisfied with the 28th. I was all prepared and ready to go and then I had a grand mal seizure on October 31. So for the first few days, I wrote nothing. I mean my head was in a fog and I felt like I had been slammed into a steel wall multiple times because once was not enough. (It was my first grand mal seizure, so I really had no built-in tolerance or even knew what to expect after.)

Because of my late start and my “fog” I decided to loosen my rules for NaNoWriMo. Instead of words for any full-length manuscript counting towards my overall goal, I opened it up to any words on pieces, short or long, that were being submitted for publication. So blogs or journaling didn’t count, but personal essays and editorials being submitted did. I was amazed that by my check-in I was ahead of the game. I had a total of 29,703 words, averaging 2,284 words, which meant at that rate I was set to finish on November 22.

Of course, I didn’t actually expect to finish then. I mean the momentum I was having was abnormal for me. I used to be a prolific writer back in college, but now not so much, and even then I doubt I would have churned out 50,000 words in a month because my writing came in large spurts rather than a consistent daily thing. In 2014, 2015, and 2016 it was a close call in terms of finishing on time, even though I was totally ready and “prepped” each time. Even when I started out strong.

If there was ever a year for a valid excuse to not make it – it was this year. So by my check-in even though I was surprised, I still wasn’t sure I could keep it up. I think I half-expected to totally burn out. But if anything, I only gained momentum.

I reached the 50,000 word mark on November 17. Out of those 50,000 words, 15,022 words were essays/editorials made up of seven pieces. I had a total of 34,978 words in terms of manuscripts and while 7,736 words were made up of three manuscripts (because in my beginning fog, I bounced around, trying to figure out which manuscript-in-progress should be my focus) the vast majority (27,242 words) was a single manuscript.

Even though I hit my mark and made my goal, I decided I wasn’t going to stop. I did take a four-day break to recharge and then I kept writing. I set two new goals. The first was that my total manuscript wordcount would be 50,000 words or more. That way I could honor what NaNoWrMo is really about. I even wrote another essay totaling 1,730 words but it didn’t count in my new goal. The second goal, assuming I met the first, was that all 50,000 words would be from a single manuscript. I hit both.

I reached the first goal on November 27. I reached the second goal on the morning of November 30 and that manuscript alone totaled in at 50,550 words. My overall total period, was 75,038 words: 58,786 words for full-length manuscripts and 16,752 words for a total of eight personal essays to be submitted for publication.

I have never had such an overage before. I’m pretty sure that I’ve never broken 51,000 words before. And while the first two years were focused on a single novel, last year any book in a series I was writing counted because I figured they were all part of a larger story. This year I had the most lax rules, and yet I didn’t even need them. I am incredibly proud of myself and happy it all worked out, because at the beginning of the month, after my seizure, I was really worried that it wouldn’t. That is why I loosened the rules even more to include creative nonfiction (CNF) to count as long as it was to be submitted for publication. I’m happy that by the first week of writing, I had focused solely on a single manuscript, which meant the other manuscripts were me just trying to figure out what to write.

Normally, I feel like the deadline or churning out 50,000 words by the end of the month, affects the quality of the writing, but while I don’t want to jinx myself, I don’t think it did in this case. We’ll see because I am officially taking this month off and I’ll go through what I wrote, revise and then fill in holes (I never write chronologically, NaNoWriMo or not) and hopefully complete a draft ready for someone to read and give me feedback.

But until then, I can sit back, smile and feel the most satisfied I have ever felt regarding a NaNoWriMo. I hope next year is just as successful!

How about you? If you participated in NaNoWriMo this year, let me know how you did! 🙂

-DMW

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