Monday, November 28, 2011

Reflections on NaNoWriMo 2011

After my epic fail attempt at NaNo last year I wrote this post. At that time I did not expect to try NaNo again.

Um, I so did NaNo this year and whupped its sorry arse. Can't tell I'm proud of myself, can you?

So, what was the difference between last year and this?
  1. I joined an online critique group full of some pretty amazing people with lots of insight. They've taught me a lot.
  2. I've attended writing conferences and critique bootcamps (LTUE, Storymaker, UVU Book Academy).
  3. I've joined associations for writers (iWriteNetwork, ANWA, Authors Incognito, LUW)
  4. Through blogging and conference attendance, I've met and become friends with lots of other writers, many of whom I've met in real life.
  5. After attending my second critique bootcamp, some of us formed a local in-person critique group. We range in age from a 15-year-old boy (he's amazing, btw) to grandmothers older even than I am.
  6. I learned how to use sprint writing and the pomodoro technique to help me focus and really crank out the words. I love using their timer and will continue to do so when writing and editing.
  7. I forced myself to keep writing even when I wasn't sure where to take the story, knowing it was going to change some in the editing process anyway.
When I did NaNo last year, I was very much alone. I had no cheerleader or people with whom to bounce ideas off (except for my sons, who are wonderful but not writers). This year, if I ran into a snag I had three different sprint writing locations  and social groups via Facebook and Yahoo Groups I could go and there'd be writers I could bounce ideas off or get ideas from.

I hear often that writing is a solitary business. It can be, as it was for my first year. But methinks times they are achangin'. I know that not all writers/authors are made of sweetness and light, and I realize many find themselves on different sides of the debate about where the future of publishing will end.

Overall, however, I've found this community to be full of helpful, giving people who are happy to share from their experience. Rather than feeling threatened by potential rivals they are out there cheering us on and more than willing to give us a helping hand.

I think that's why NaNo was such a different experience for me this year. Next year? Real life will determine that but I'm hopeful. I had a tight schedule what with putting on a municipal election that I won't have to worry about next year (I'll be able to attend the writing retreat--squeee!).

What about you? Have you found the writing community to be as friendly as I have? Did you attempt NaNo this year? If so, how are you doing?

And a humorous note, I stole this from Stina Lindenblatt over at Seeing Creative. It made me laugh.


  1. You did it! Congratulations.
    And Donna, you are not that old! Old is when you cough dust.

  2. You sound very dedicated to the craft, with great results. I've often felt that writing is far from solitary. There's usually a great team behind our work, as you noted here. Congrats again!

  3. Congratulations!!!

    And I LOVE that picture:)

  4. Oh, he goes prefectly with your blog design. :D

    Congrats on finishing NaNo. *throws Christmas-y glitter*

  5. Sounds major exhausting. Hope you had a relaxing Turkey day!

  6. Congrats Donna! So good to hear that you had such a positive experience. AND, that you've found such a wonderful online (and off) writing community to support you every step of the way.

    --It kind of makes me wish I was more social online (and off for that matter :-).

  7. It's wonderful to hear that you had a great experience with NaNo this year, Donna. Good job for giving it another shot! I did NaNo for the first time this year, and I couldn't have done it without my critique group. They held my hand all along the way.

  8. I'm so glad you have such a great community making you feel at home for NaNo this year!

  9. Congrats on making it that's awesome. I never heard about nano until I got done my third book. After 87,000 words in 20 days I needed a break, so I never attempted it. Next year though just maybe, now that I know.

  10. Yay, Donna! I'm so glad you found yourself successful this time around!

    Thanks to the internet, there is no reason for writing to be a solitary business any more. Thank heavens for the support network out there!

  11. LOL over that picture! Love it!

    And I love all your advice about NaNo. I would really like to do it next year and you have some wonderful advice here. I am definitely going to look into the things mentioned on #6. Very interesting. :) Thanks for sharing and CONGRATS AGAIN! That is awesome!

  12. I so glad you kick some serious arse :) I got mine kicked! This was my first year. I need to be better prepared next are my hero.

    Ha! I love that Abby is incognito as Leigh :)

  13. Congratulations Donna. Your dedication is impressive!

  14. Great insight. I'm feeling pretty alone in the writing world right now. Hope to be where you are next year.

    Good job. Glad you were so successful!

  15. yay for you! maybe next year i can follow your 2nd year example!

  16. Congrats! You are awesome.

    I'm over 80k and going to verify today. Don't want to mess with fate.

    First time Nano and I could not have done it without friends. Blogger Friend, Twitter Friends, Music and You.

    Thanks for the posts,comments and encouragement.

    Of course NaNo made me nuts, but what doesn't.I have had the time of my life. So glad it was a good experience for you tool.

  17. Great post, thank you for sharing. I need to sprint more myself and not lurk as often as I do.

  18. Dang woman, good for you. Way to make it happen! Those are pretty awesome credentials up there. Also, the kitty is too cute. :)

  19. Way to go, Donna! I'm gonna go check out your resources. Thanks for sharing them and your experience!

  20. GO, YOU! That is awesome!!! Congratulations. :D

    I have found the writing community around me to be WONDERFUL. So supportive and kind and generous. I agree--some people say writing is solitary, but for me, it's not.

    This year, I was trying to write a "secret novel"--my family knew I was writing it, but I was trying to keep it secret from my friends. But I can't write by myself anymore--it's so helpful to have someone reading my story as I'm writing it so I can bounce things off of them. So my friend Emma became my confidant and kept my secret for me. My novel was then dubbed "SNEEK"--Secret Novel Except Emma Knowing. (Actual title is "My Kingdom for a Newt.") I just think that you CAN write by yourself, but it can be so much better if you don't. Maybe some people write better in solitude. I'm not one of them.

    Annnd I'm rambling.

    I'm so happy for you!!!! :D

  21. Congratualtions! I think finishing the NaNo is a great achievement. It is interesting to see what a difference it can make to bounce ideas off other writers. My mom belongs to a writing group and they critique each others work.

  22. Congrats! I've never done NANO, but I'm hoping 2012 will be my year! Maybe.

    But thanks for this post! There are a lot of great tips in here that I'm sure I'll be referring to!

  23. So excited for you finishing NaNo! You put in an amazing amount of work. Congrats!

  24. Finding what works is the key. I like to draft my novel from start to finish alone. Then, when I put my novel into complete sentences, I will exchange with my critique group.

  25. Yay! That's awesome. What a great feeling to have won and earned the badge.

  26. That really really is the way to do it. GO you!

  27. Congrats! The two NaNo years were very different for me, too. I completed them both--last year with a detailed outline, this year pantsing it with a brief outline in my head--and I learned interesting things from both years. That's what it's about!

  28. Great job with NaNo! I fell short by 1800 words this year, but I'm going to catch you next November! I'll check out the techniques you mention (like pomodoro) in the meantime. I'm all for getting my daily word count up.


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