I won my second NaNoWriMo on Thanksgiving night. I’m exhausted. I guess I forgot how hard last year was. Don’t you love selective amnesia? Unlike last year I didn’t make the 50,000 words my sole focus. I made taking care of myself top priority. We’ll pretend that means I’d be willing to forgo winning, but that would be a lie, and anyone who knows me would call me out on it. Of course, I was going to do whatever it took to win, but I had to create a better balance this time.
This year was harder. I had days I only wrote 364, 718, 425, or 503 words. I even skipped writing on the 15th altogether. I hit a wall that day and refused to write. I needed a day off. Other writers posted that if they took a day off, they’d never start again. Fair enough, you know you. This year I paid more attention to the writing community at large and tried to be supportive. Lots of people quit. I’m not talking about the people with medical or life emergencies, but people who announced, I Quit! Several kept plugging away even if they weren’t going to make 50,000. Others had tried for four or more years, and this was their first win. I got on Facebook the morning of the 30th and went through the NaNoWriMo forum and congratulated as many winners as I could until Facebook shut off my comment feature. I didn’t know it could do that; they told me I was acting like SPAM.
Before I did my first NaNoWriMo, before I even knew what it was, I saw a list of suggestions to help you win. One tip was sleeping two hours less a night. When I took on the challenge my first year, that was the one thing I knew I couldn’t do. I need my sleep not only write but to get through my day job. However, one of my NaNo buddies found that getting up earlier and writing at 5 am worked wonders for her. She didn’t reach 50,000, but she’s a winner because she tried, stuck with it, and has way more words written now than when she started. Her goal is to reach that number even if it takes her an extra month or two. Remember, 50,000 words isn’t even a full novel. It’s an arbitrary number, but it’s a goal.
Along with working towards my goal, I maintained my blog (go me), my essay Stealing Sand was published, I found out I was a finalist for the 48th New Millennium Writing Award Flash Fiction Contest 2019 for my piece Skin (I was so tired one night I almost deleted the email by accident). I went to Montreal, I went to birthdays, saw my friends band play, hiked, read, met a flying squirrel, spent time with my husband, spent time with my friends, spent time with family, paid my bills, and went to parties. I lived my life. What I fell behind on was my Hulu que. Maybe I’ll catch up during a blizzard this winter — for example, today. My area is getting between 14 – 20 inches.
This is how I did my NaNoWriMo, it isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re scared of flying squirrels, or deer, or the bobcat that I think I saw lurking off in the forest. I think a lot of people give advice on how to achieve any goal. I say, take it all in, try it out. Use what works. Dump the rest. And plan as best you can for things getting in your way. To my fellow writers who took on NaNoWriMo, especially those with kids in their home, or anyone taking on a significant goal in their life, congratulations, you’re a rock star!