Throughout the month, we found ways to reward ourselves for reaching our daily goals, often in the form of yummy goodies like Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes. I also started doing a reward system of five peanut M-n-Ms for every 500 words I wrote, some days that kept me going. NaNoWriMo suggests a target average daily word count goal of 1,667 words. We set our daily goal (for most days) at 2,000, since we didn't work on our novels on Sundays and since we wanted to finish by Thanksgiving (which we did). Here is a chart showing what my daily word counts looked like, with the line showing what would be on par for the day to finish by the end of the month.
So, while I had days of discouragement, days where I didn't get much written, I did do it, and I learned a number things. One thing I learned is how to tone down my internal editor. I knew what I was writing was certainly not the best ever written. I knew I was ignoring tons of writing advice that I have received of the years. But, I also knew I would not get the 50,000 words written if I kept listening to my internal editor. So, I told my internal editor to go away. Sometimes I had to do it repeatedly, but I got easier as the month went on. I focused on writing, often whatever came to mind, rather than worrying about whether or not it was good writing. If I thought to write something, I wrote it, even if it took me on a tangent I hadn't planned on. This is likely why I didn't finish the novel in the 50, 000 words, as I expected to do at the beginning of the month. So, even though I haven't finished the novel yet, my goal is to finish it by the end of the year.
Which leads me to something else I learned from doing NaNoWriMo: I can write more words in a day than I thought possible. Earlier this year I was working on a goal to write out my Sleeping Beauty Spin-off. I would work on writing a couple days a week and often only write a couple hundred words each time. But now, my goal is to write 500 words per day. I am going to finish the Cinderella Spin-off I did for NaNoWriMo first, but then I am going to go back to my Sleeping Beauty Spin-off and see if I can finish writing it too. I know I can, I just have to put in the effort. It will be a little harder with the Sleeping Beauty spin-off, since I was working so hard to craft it. But it is better to get it written and then rework it than to never finish it.
Another thing I learned from NaNoWriMo is how helpful music, especially the right type of music, can be while writing. I often listen to music while I write, but sometimes I don't. Often I pick a nice movie soundtrack. I did this during NaNoWriMo, but one day I was just stuck. I was writing a ball scene and nothing I chose to listen to seemed to help. Then Jason suggested I listen to Strauss. It was perfect! It was exactly what I needed and helped get the idea flowing. So, taking a few minutes to try to find the right mood music is definitely a worthwhile use of time when writing a novel.
I know there are more things I learned over this past month, but I think I'll leave it at this.
Yay for NaNoWriMo!