NaNoWriMo Lessons Learned, Part 1 – Writing Takeaways

30 days and nights of literary abandon is a pretty accurate assessment of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  As a result, November was a total blur to me!

By the end of the day on November 30, I reached my personal writing goals for the month: over 30,000 words (90 pages) on my memoir and getting through 6 tough chapters of personal highs and lows in my life.  I also kept up with my other writing and marketing commitments (another 30,000 words), dealt with some pressing family matters and celebrated my birthday.  Needless to say, I am thrilled with the result.

Writing a bookI started the month hesitant on what to expect, but knew I needed to get off the fence about my memoir.  I started it over a year ago and only wrote a few pages.  I needed this deadline to get moving again. My biggest fear was failure.  It had nothing to do with the possibility of not hitting the 50,000 word threshold.  It was about starting to write and then giving up half-way through the month.  I faced that fear and so much more last month.

As a former project manager one of the key meetings we held as a team at the completion of a project was the lessons learned debriefing.  It was a valuable tool to bring closure to the team, the project, and to move forward with new insights.  My NaNoWriMo project was also full of lessons learned for me—personally and professionally.  I’ll start out with the ‘easy’ lessons learned related to writing.

Writing Lessons Learned

  1. I am a writer. Despite my being published earlier this year, I had occasional doubts about my ability to write.  Over 30,000 words and six chapters later, I put an end to that thought.
  2. I can discipline myself to write.  I set up a schedule to write (or research my memoir) and stuck to it most days.  I now have a distraction free space in my home to continue.
  3. Writing takes a lot of work and is a big commitment.  No more giving lip service to it.  I’m committed to this project.
  4. Writing is a process.  I’ve heard that many times over the past year, but didn’t really understand it until this month.  (This lesson learned is worthy of an entire blog on its own.)  If you are a writer, you know exactly what I mean.
  5. Memoir writing should not be rushed.  There are many nuggets and insights to be gleaned from looking at your life.  By definition, a memoir is a reflection upon key life experiences that make up the person.  When you rush through the writing, it is easy to miss it.  I kept a separate journal of my ‘aha’ moments and processed as much as I could, but it was pretty overwhelming.
  6. Memoir writing is not for everyone.  It includes a painful process of self-examination.  You have to be willing to relive both the good and the bad.  You have to reveal your inner struggle and be vulnerable or else readers won’t be able to identify with your story.  (Again, not for everyone.)

This month long writing exercise was a great opportunity to jump start my memoir.  The result wasn’t necessarily pretty, but it served its purpose for me.  Stay tuned for Part 2 to read about the deeper more personal lessons learned while on my NaNoWriMo adventure.

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2 Comments

  1. NaNoWriMo Lessons Learned, Part 2 – Personal Takeaways « Making Me Bold
  2. Trusting the Writing Process (Year 4) | Making Me Bold

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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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