#NaNoWriMo taught me how to pummel the page full of words

Yeah, that’s right Inner Demons – you were wrong about me. All that hopelessness and doubt you whispered in my ear was baseless baloney. You’re like the Breitbart of my mind – telling me everything is awful and finding people to blame other than myself.

Well eat this, you Pessimistic Pixies!


Read it and weep, you Imps of Uncertainty. I came at this challenge unprepared and you told me to quit at every turn, telling me “You didn’t have time to prepare!” – “Sack it off and do it properly next year!” – “50,000 words is impossible with a full-time job!”

Eat me, you Doubting Devils. I did it, I wrote 50,000 words in 29 days and I have a slightly shitty, nonsensical novel to prove it.


Big data

Having kept a writing journal for the past year, I am blessed with the ability to quantify what NaNoWriMo means to my productivity. Check this handy chart out.


Yeah, November 2016 blew my other months of writing out of the water; I was almost three times as productive as my best month of writing on record, October 2015’s 17,000 words.

That’s astonishing – just as it was exhausting. This is not something you can do every month, but I have to admit I’m already looking forward to next November to crack out another novel.

Let’s take a closer look at the daily data, comparing NaNo with my previous best, that fateful October.


You can clearly see the black lines of NaNo reach consistently higher and there isn’t a single gap between every entry, whereas there are 7 days without any words at all on my previous best month. That bumps my average word count from 588 a day up to 1,728.

To be fair, I had to take a day off work to finish up, because I was unavailable on the last day of November – but, my goodness, was that day enlightening. I spent it writing, running errands and doing jobs in the house, and I got a tantalising glimpse of what it must feel like to do this shit for a living.

It felt real – attainable – within reach, even!

And honestly, I’m thankful for NaNo,

  • for inspiring me to find a higher state of creativity;
  • for instilling greater confidence in my ability; and
  • for reminding me how wonderful it would be to attain some degree of success.

I don’t care about riches, I never have, really. But that life – writing as a means of subsistence – seems to me the most glorious goal of all.

Next steps

So what’s the plan now?

Well, I may have reached 50,000 words, but I didn’t get to the end of the story, so first thing’s first, I need to close it out. Once it’s done, common consensus is to leave it to one side for a month or two, and come back to it with a fresh head. Re-read it, note the problems, edit where necessary.

Once that’s done, I have a few trusted beta readers who I know will give me genuine and uncompromising feedback. I’ll take that, make a third draft with the pointers I agree with, and then, the bastard goes on Scribophile.

I’ve not posted a novel on Scribophile before, just short stories and and a first chapter of something I was toying with. I’ll need to build up a bunch of karma points by critiquing fellow writers, and potentially getting my teeth into someone else’s novel. It can be hard work, but from my experience on that site, the more one analyses others’ work, the better equipped you are to analyse your own, and improve your craft.

Before that, I’ll be going over my Citadel draft, trying to form that into something I can send out to betas as well.

Suddenly, I’ve got two projects on the go, both in advanced stages of development, and a third brewing in my mind like some fabulous casserole cooked over night.

In the meantime, I’ve only got 11 months to come up with a new idea for next NaNoWriMo2017…


24 thoughts on “#NaNoWriMo taught me how to pummel the page full of words”

  1. Thanks to a redundancy payout I took a year off and spent it writing. It was fantastic; the best thing ever. I learnt so much about the craft, although it did get a little lonely, as my Twitter account will testify. The main downside, however, is how hard it is to make money from. But if you can make a living from writing at home, don’t hesitate.

    And congratulations on your #NaNoWriMo success, Tim; 50 000 words in 29 days is quite an achievement when you have a full time job, well done! I might have a go next year.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Carol; have you tried NaNo before?

      Good on you for giving it a crack, must have been lovely. Feels like you need a stack of dough though, to start out on these things, but my mortgage won’t allow that any more. I have become a slave to the bank. But one half-successful story and I’ll be quitting my job and selling all my furniture to pursue it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have considered NaNo before but been put off by the commitment required. With hindsight I should have tried last year when I had more time and the world seemed a better place. Everything’s changed so much this year I haven’t felt like writing, especially since June 23rd.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Camp is in April and July. Everyone is split into “cabins” of 12 with their own message board. And you decide on your own goal – choose your word count, and you can include any project like editing as well. So it’s more flexible.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats! If you can conquer those demons once, you can do it endlessly. I’ll go find you on Scribophile and start following you so I’ll see when you post work for review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow!!! I could feel the energy as I read this. Measuring performance is key and the results can be absolutely astonishing. I like that you already have a plan in place.

    It was my first NaNoWriMo challenge and I’ve learned a few things too. For me, it’s going back to the drawing board and learning what good writing is

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you manage the target? I think a lot of people, even if they didn’t hit 50k, draw a lot from the process, whether that’s planning out something they’ve always put aside for another day, or realising a problem with a story that makes it unworkable, or whatever. I’ll for sure be back in 2017…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations on your NaNoWriMo success! I’ve been doing it for ten years now–won every year though this one was the hardest yet! It’s amazing how much I can get done in one month, though…I think my muse works better under the pressure of that looming Midnight on the 30th deadline. 🙂

    Best of luck with your current goals, and hope to see you in NaNo next year!

    Liked by 1 person

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