I Didn't Win NaNoWriMo, But This is What I Learned


Writing fifty thousand words in 30 days is a massive undertaking for just about anybody.

I knew National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) would be tough going into it, but then I heard all these stories of authors who were successful, year after year. So why not throw my hat in the ring? If they can do it, I can too. Right . . .?

After this last month, here's what I know: Yes, I could write 50,000 words in one month. But did I really want to? That was the question I faced as Week Three of NaNoWriMo came into focus.

I had written diligently for a full two weeks. An average of 1,720 words per day. It meant waking up early and writing in shifts. Five hundred words before breakfast. Seven hundred words after the gym, and then maybe a few hundred more in the late afternoon when my husband got home from work -- when I had to hunch over my laptop, ear plugs shoved in to drown out whatever podcast he was listening to as it floated through the living room.

I kept this up between meetings, work shifts and social events. When the third week hit, I was so exhausted I could no longer remember why I was pushing myself. Did it really matter if I finished my book in a month? Was it really serving me to write like this?

My personal answer to those questions was NO. It was't really serving me, nor was it sustainable. But I still felt guilty -- like I was a quitter. This unreliable person who didn’t finish what she started.

That's when I happened upon the Wild Words community. It’s run by Nicole Gulotta who advocates for writing slowly with intuition and intention.

She says to give yourself space by writing in tune with nature. Meaning, that nature operates with seasons, so why not approach writing with that same mentality?

When I look back upon my writing process for my book, SHOT, what I notice is that I actually did write seasonally. In summer, I produced very little because I was too focused on traveling, playing, and swimming in the ocean.

Come fall, I felt refreshed and ready to dive in and hit the keyboard with discipline once again.

December was another busy, frantic month where word counts were left by the wayside. But when January arrived, with the New Year came new inspiration and led into a time of balance during spring.

Why not embrace these natural rhythms? There's something beautiful in them. So much wisdom to gain.

For all of you who won NaNoWriMo -- I think you’re amazing. You are my hero.

And I will be catching up to you, as I have no intention of quitting this novel. I’ll get there. In time. Across multiple seasons.

What are your seasonal patterns of writing? What times of year do you feel more or less motivated?