What I Learned from NaNo 2008

This was my fifth year doing NaNo. I started off very strong… and died in the middle. Died is probably an exaggeration. But here it is the 30th and I have 28,000 words done. So this is about what I learned from this year’s NaNo.

Accountability is Good

I started November with two family members and my writing group all participating in NaNo. The two family members dropped out within a week. My writing group stayed strong and made tremendous progress on their novels. They had daily checkins on their progress through our Yahoo group. Check-ins which I didn’t participate in. If I had… I think I would have made better progress. There’s nothing like your friends harassing you to keep you writing.

Pre-Planning is Important

I didn’t do a lot of pre-planning on my novel. I meant to, but let October get away from me. And I found that I needed all of that detailed planning to keep making progress and to keep my writing spirits up during November. For my first newsletter on Learn to Write Fiction, I covered the writing process that Elizabeth George uses and it sounds perfect for me. I need that character and setting work done ahead of time so I know what I’m going to write when I sit down.

Maintaining Momentum is a Must

I kept up during the first ten days or so. Then I missed a day, then two and before I knew it I was 10,000 words behind where I should be. To succeed in NaNo, I have to write 1667 words every day without fail. If I skip even one, it is even harder to write the next day.

Clear the Decks

In addition to NaNo in November, I had my day job and my work on Learn to Write Fiction which is essentially another job. Two jobs and writing a novel is a tough combination. I’d have been better off to get November’s website work done ahead of time so that I only had the novel to work on.


So what will happen to my novel? I plan to finish it, just at a slower pace. And after I do the necessary pre-work.

If you participated in NaNo this year, what did you learn?