National Novel Writing Month: Expectations vs. Reality


Last year I took part in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) for the first time.

This is where you write 50,000 words in a month – November.

Up until this point the longest story I had ever written was 14,989 words.

In the run up to NaNoWriMo I got totally carried away with the marketing hype (as an excitable newbie writer does) and created some really grand expectations.

I read all the articles about the lucky novelists who get a publishing deal straight after NaNoWriMo and trembled with newbie writer excitement. It could happen to me?

So I thought it would be good to now do a post on my expectations Vs. reality.

Perhaps I should be publishing this post nearer NaNoWriMo time?

I don’t want to put any excitable newbie writers off it as I think it’s a good exercise – if you have the right expectations.

So let’s look at my grand expectations versus reality.

Expectation 1 – I will have a finished novel that I can send off to an agent by the end of November!
Reality – I had 50,000 words of something and the only place I felt like sending it to was the bin. I remember reading through it at the end and thinking “what on earth have you created?”

Expectation 2 – Cannot be that hard whipping up 50,000 words in a month!
Reality – Good grief it’s like doing a writing marathon; you are permanently exhausted, obsessed with daily word counts, you eat loads of carbs and you hit the ‘writing wall of pain’ at 25,000 words. This is where you get down on the floor and cry out “I can’t go on any further, save yourself and leave me here to die”.

Expectation 3 – I will make loads of NaNoWriMo buddies!
Reality – I was so damn busy trying to juggle my word count, my full time job, my family, writing blog posts moaning about how tired I was, tweeting about how tired I was and texting loved ones about how tired I was. I didn’t have time to say ‘hello’ to anyone else let alone strike up a solid heart warming friendship!

Expectation 4 – 50,000 words should be enough for a novel!
Reality – I needed another 20,000 words to turn it into a proper novel. The prospect of writing another 20k words at the end of November sent me over the mental and physical edge. I just stuck the draft in a drawer and claimed I was suffering with amnesia, when asked about why I lived like a hermit in November.

Expectation 5 – 50,000 words with no plan / story plot – I will just wing it!
Reality – I know I am ‘Panster & Proud’ but approaching NaNoWriMo like I did last year was basically writing suicide. There is no way you can ‘wing it’ writing 50,000 words with no idea of your plot / characters / premise.

I took making stuff up on the hop to a whole new level. Every night I would fire up the laptop saying to myself “anything is possible!”

Expectation 6 – I won’t get obsessive by the word count challenge. If things get too much I will stop.
Reality – HA! Obsessive is my middle name. Once I start something I have to see it through no matter what.

I don’t give things up. Even if that means late nights, early mornings and writing stuff in the bath.

Expectation 7 – I will be a proper best selling author following NaNoWriMo!
Reality – Just finished the second draft of my NaNoWriMo story from last year. Long long long way still to go!

In my experience NaNoWriMo was a good exercise to do as it:

  • Gave me something at the end which I could start to craft and build upon.
  • Let me experience writing 50k words, something which I had not done before.

I am sure some writers out there will have come out of NaNoWriMo with a different experience.

If you have done it how was it for you?


National Novel Writing Month: Expectations vs. Reality first appeared September 2015, on Lucy’s website, Blondewritemore.

Lucy (Blondewritemore)

Lucy (Blondewritemore)

Lucy originates from the North of England. She is a mother to two daughters, an English wife to a Welsh husband and owner of three cats, two relatively normal animals and one ‘special’ cat – The Duke of Wellington.

She is also the author of the series, The Diary of Roxy Collins, which can found on her site, Blondewritemore.

Writing is her passion. Some people doodle, sketch or draw... she plays with words.
Lucy (Blondewritemore)

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