Every Word Counts: What I Learned in NaNoWriMO

Regular followers may have noticed some relative blog silence around these parts, and that’s largely been due to NaNoWriMo. This was my first year fully committing to a writing 50,000 words in November as part of a new project, and I’m happy to say that I hit that 50k yesterday!


(I had no idea the winning badge included a dragon. I will do just about anything for a dragon.)

I spent a lot of time away from the blog and staring at a Word document, but I’m so happy I took part in this year’s NaNoWriMo. It ended up being a pretty worthwhile experiment. The whole “just write a first draft, who cares if it’s bad, it’s words on paper that you can edit later” approach always sounds better in my head than in actual execution. Usually, I tell myself “just write” but I end up finagling more as I go. I still ended up doing some of that during NaNo, but I pushed myself way more than I normally do on any given day. I know that my NaNo project isn’t perfect, and there’s still a lot to figure out in revision, but I’m pretty happy with where it is overall. It was nice to find that balance between “just get words on the page!” and “carefully craft all the words.”

Also, I’m someone who doesn’t generally look at word count. If you ask me how many words I typically write per day, I’d say “Oh, I don’t know. A hundred? A thousand? Some amount of words?” Usually I track my progress by scene, and at the end of the day I’ll see how many pages that ended up being. NaNo was a fun way to make me a little more competitive with myself–I’d finish a scene and think “Oh, that’s really close to X number of words, which is a nice even number. Let’s do just a little more.” Although I still don’t have any real idea of how many words equal a scene or page, looking at word count was a helpful way to push myself that little bit further on any given day.

I’m really happy to have hit that 50k, but even if I had fallen behind (because life happens!), I would have still been happy to take part in NaNo. Because even if you only end up with 50 words, maybe that’s 50 more than you would have written. Every word counts. Whether it’s November or June, and whether it’s a novel or a short story or a poem–every word you write makes you a better writer. There’s no failing and no wasted time when you’re writing. Getting any number words on a page and crafting a story bit by bit makes you stronger as a storyteller. And that’s awesome.

My NaNo WIP isn’t done yet (probably another 25k or so to go), but I’m excited to keep pushing forward. I hope you’re excited about your WIP, too. Let’s go slay more word dragons!

And speaking of dragons, I spent Thanksgiving at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it was awesome!

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