How I Won By Losing NaNoWriMo

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Happy December! How did that happen, anyway? November seems like a blur. Serpentine Walls was released on my birthday, October 30th, and the next several weeks were consumed with blog tours and promo.

I was worried that all the hoopla around Serpentine Walls would get in the way of finishing the next book in the Serpentine Series, the one featuring Aidan. It seems like I’ve been writing this thing for years and it’s turned into a monster. By the time Serpentine Walls was released, I was already over 100K into it with no end in sight.

So I decided to do something crazy: National Novel Writing Month. November is when people around the world participate in a game to write 50K in a month. Sounds cool, right? But to do this while working 4 days a week, promoting my new novel, AND having a planned trip home to Virginia for Thanksgiving is pretty insane.

I didn’t even register for NaNoWriMo or do anything officially. I follow enough writers on Twitter who were doing it to get the general drift about word counts and where one was “supposed” to be in order to hit 50K by the end. I played along with all of them, racking up word counts, some of it utter shite, some of it actually pretty good.

I wrote my last words on the plane coming home from Virginia yesterday. And, no, I didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo, as in write 50,000 words in the month of November. I wrote 41,746. So I “lost” the game. But I won so much by playing!

I strengthened my “write no matter what” muscle. I would never have written so many words in that particular month, given all of the unusual circumstances, if I wasn’t playing the NaNo game. And now I know that I can.

I got an unexpected creative benefit. As I was making myself write more and more and more, a new major plot point emerged. It was a strange one but I ran with it. Why not? All I needed was words, they didn’t need to make sense yet.

I haven’t finished the Aidan novel, but I’m so much closer. I can actually see the end in sight. I needed that push.

Thanks, NaNoWriMo, ’twas a pleasure to have lost!


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