NANOVER... And what I've learned.

Nanowrimo is officially Nanover. I "won" on Sunday 17th November, when the word count for my Nanonovel stood at 50100. I've loved every second of Nano. It's forced me to step outside my writer bubble and mingle with other writerly types and it's made me proud of what I do rather than faintly embarrassed. In short, Nanowrimo is Nanoawesome!

It's also taught my a lot. So here for you in a handy to digest numerical list are the Top Ten Things I've Learned From Nanowrimo:

1. I love statistics

I think I can attribute a significant amount of  my Nanosuccess to the stats page. I've always been an obsessive word counter, keeping records of words written and chapter lengths and total novel lengths, but I never knew how powerful the count down element could be. Waking up on Sunday morning knowing I had 7,000 words left to write was far more motivating for me than knowing I'd written 43,000. By the time I've reached 43,000 it's become abstract. 7,000, on the other hand, is a goal I know I can accomplish on a lazy Sunday. So, with this in mind, I've created a spreadsheet for my future projects that does essentially the same thing as the Nanostats page (albeit less attractively). I can set my writing goal and it automatically tells me what my daily word count needs to be, then draws a graph plotting my actual words against my word goals. If anyone wants a copy, let me know in the comments and I'll email you one! You need excel or Open Office to run it.

2. I take this seriously

I want to be an author. I want to be an author. I want to be an author. I want to be an author. I want every day to be like Nanowrimo. I want to have the time and energy to write 7,000 words a day every day for ever more. Thanks.

3. Writing makes me happy

I know this sounds silly, but I don't think I've ever been a happier writer than the time I've been a Nanowriter. This is the first ever first draft I've written where at no point have I become overwhelmed with the enormity of the task, because I've proven to myself that I can write lots of good quality, interesting words very quickly. And that makes me really, really, really happy. The glow I got after my 12,000 word weekend could not be rivalled by even the musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

4. I fit in

Yup, I've found my clique. Being in a room with 50 plus other writers at the kick off party made me aware that writers are a kind of type, of course with a million shades of grey in between, but still a type nonetheless. Our common interest in locking ourselves away from the outside world to toil for hours over a project we'll probably be too shy to show anyone unites us in more ways than I was expecting!

5. First drafts can be easy

*gasp* I said it! EASY! I know writers are never meant to say that but I've never gotten so much writing done with such little mental anguish before and I hope that this is something I can replicate. You know I'd resigned myself to thinking that I just hated the drafting process and it was in revisions that I found enjoyment with writing. WRONG! I hated the drafting process because I wasn't getting excited enough about the drafts I was writing. Without the excitement I didn't have the motivation to do it. This post on Pretentious Title was a real eye-opener for me, making me realise that the reason I was struggling with first drafts was because the scenes weren't good enough. Before every scene of my Nanonovel I took a bit of time to work out what I wanted to write and how I wanted the scene to look and progress and then I stopped and thought, "is that cool enough?" I didn't write a word of the scene until I was so excited about what I'd come up with there was no way I couldn't!

6. What I want to write and what I'm good at writing are two different things

My Nanonovel is fantasy for the lower YA audience. I've written lower YA fantasy before (which was pretty much Harry Potter... :/) but I always try to write higher YA sci-fi because that's exactly what I love to read. It's a hard pill to swallow, but maybe I'm just better at writing fantasy for a slightly younger audience?

7. Caffeine makes me a ninja and I can use it sparingly

I don't drink caffeine as a general rule as it tends to make my CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) symptoms worse. Where many people (like my boyfriend) need a cup of coffee to get to baseline functioning, caffeine can be a weapon for me! Of course there's the caffeine come down to contend with, but if I have it on a Saturday, I'm back to normal functionality by work on Monday morning.

8. Shyness is a self-limiting belief

I use my shyness as a crutch to not do things I'm scared of. Nanowrimo meet ups and write-ins have forced me out of my comfort zone and into the big scary world where all the people are. If I can take steps to combat my shyness, I can do bloody anything!!!

9. Anything worth having sure enough's worth fighting for

Thanks Cheryl. Nano's been all about sacrifice. In the last 17 days I haven't swum, I've eaten rubbish, I've barely skimmed the surface of my to-read pile, and I've missed several episodes of the X Factor. Luckily for me, I don't have scales at home, but if I want to maintain this sort of feverish writing level, I'm going to have to fine-tune what sacrifices are worth making in the long run.

10. Silhouette

I've never been able to spell it. Can now. Thanks Nano.