(In My Heart) I Won NaNoWriMo

18 December 2020

I have to preface this post by clarifying that, no, I did not manage to hit 50k in my book. I guess I shouldn't even pretend I won since I didn't actually complete the one requirement in order to win NaNoWriMo. But in my heart, I do feel like I won. If not the challenge of writing a first draft in a single month, I feel like I won back my love for crafting a story, I won back my creativity and my passion.

As I said in my post announcing that I was going to do NaNo this year, I wasn't very strict with myself during the month. In the beginning I had decided that I would allow myself to count any notes, outlines, and research points in my word count. Since this was many first time trying to even write a book in at least seven years, I didn't want to put something stressful and unattainable upon myself. I wanted to make this as fun as possible.

The biggest thing I learned in the whole process was that I am a hard core plantser. I can't go into writing a book completely blind, but a firm outline feels restrictive to my creativity. I need to be able to play with an idea and process it as I go to create a story, while keeping my overall goal in mind. I started in November with a few key plot points I knew were important in the back of my mind, and a cast of characters. I knew my themes and what I wanted to convey in my story. But I had absolutely no idea how to get there.

I admit, I committed the cardinal sin of NaNo and writing first drafts in general: I rewrote my first chapter... three times. And yes, I counted it all toward my word goal. But I cannot stress enough how important those rewrites were in my process of figuring out the backstory of my characters, where they start out in the world, and from there how they could get to where they need to go. It was very clear while I was writing my first two attempts that the direction I was going was not going to work out. While some probably would have advised me to just keep going, I knew that if the direction wasn't right, I would not be satisfied with my story.

The third time really was the charm in my case! Once it clicked I was able to write a skeleton of an outline. It made sense and fit well within the historical context. I became more excited than ever to keep writing, and it felt more complete in my mind than any other story I've attempted to write in the past. 

But I know the stats are ultimately what matters when you finish NaNoWriMo. I finished the month with 34,575 words. Again, that's including my outline, my previous attempts, and other notes. I have around 10,000 words toward what I consider my solid first draft, with about five chapters completed. But I am beyond happy with my numbers!

I honestly started this journey with very little confidence that I would get anywhere. I just knew I wanted to give it a try to be able to explore my story and get myself in the habit of writing every day, and I definitely feel like I achieved that! haven't written for about two days and it already feels weird not to be in my story.

It's been slower since NaNo ended, but I don't mind. I'm taking my time with this book. I have about 110,000 words to go at least in this first draft, and I'm taking it one day at a time. I'm constantly thinking about it, researching, and filling in plot holes, which is all important to the writing process. It's so much more important to me to tell this story well than to simply meet a goal and push it out to readers. Everyone has a different way of writing, and I'm finally figuring out mine.

But I am more determined than ever to finish this book. If I write nothing else the rest of my life, I at least want see this project to completion, and I have NaNoWriMo to thank for pushing me past the giant block in my brain.


Did you complete NaNoWriMo? How is your story going?


  1. Falling in love with writing again is more a win than simply hitting 50k, if you ask me!!

  2. you go, friend. excited for you and this writing journey : )


  3. Looks like you and I had about the same NaNo month! 35k is still awesome and more than either of us had before we started. Great work!

    1. Thank you! And good job to you as well! We both survived and made progress. That's what matters. :)