NaNoWriMo: What I Learned

I’ll start this honestly. For way too many years I trashed NaNoWriMo because I was an arrogant kid. Simple as that. I made my own rules on how you should write and churning out a book in a month went against all those rules. 

You can’t put out quality work so fast. Does a book end at 50,000 words? It just pollutes the community.

You know what pollutes the community? That stinkin’ attitude, missy.

Over the last few years, I really let it go and stopped caring. It was great that it gets people writing, gives people a community, and helps budding authors work towards goals. All that said, I still was completely uninterested in “stooping down to that level”. Even if you would never catch me saying that, there was a part of me that felt that way.

Gross right?

Well, no worries. Karma bit me good and hard on the rump.

This year was the worst year for my writing.

I stopped my blog. My grandmother passed away as did my childhood dog. I struggled with the unknown of a new health issue (I’m fine). I realized my future dream wasn’t what I thought it was. There were plenty of good things, marriage, travel, graduation, and seeing my husband pass his black belt test. 

But they were all stressful. 

It did a real number on my brain. I lost that creative spark. The desire was still there but without the time for reading, my words fell apart. With all the added stress, I could not tap into that well of creativity inside of me no matter how much anime, fantasy, and sci-fi I watched. My brain was not accepting it.

It frustrated me to know that I’ve been writing for years and now, I felt dried up completely at 24 years of age. Bummer

But then I decided to give NaNoWriMo a go and see what happened. Boy…did I learn some stuff.

white ceramic teacup with saucer near two books above gray floral textile
Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com


Yes, writing to hit that word count sucked. Most people will say it was hard, trying, and all that jazz but I won’t. It was tough, but it sucked. 90% of those days, my brain wasn’t in it. Half of my story is telling, and the other half is dialogue.

On a very serious note, writing at all when I had no ideas on what to do, where to go, how to even plot my story was crippling. I cried some days. I chewed at my lips others. And some days I completely gave up. 

It was a painful process. Forcing those words to come out of my head knowing they weren’t great was a very, very painful process for me. Writing has always been easy. I’m a fast writer and I’m pretty good at what I do but this wasn’t the case this time around. I was slow. Out of practice. And what was coming out wasn’t all that great. I had to relearn how to write.


I realized, probably with one week left in the competition, that I have to read more. I just don’t read enough, no matter what I thought. I wasn’t carving out the time to read like I used to. As much as I identified as a bookworm, I can’t remember the last time I read a book. 


It reflected poorly on my writing. As I started to really read again, I felt like one million lightbulbs were going off in my head. Of course my writing was terrible. I wasn’t stimulating myself. I wasn’t studying my craft. I was being plain lazy. Writing is my job and part of that job is to read.


I’ve mentioned this earlier but it connects back to the last point. I really need to relearn how to write. My style has changed so much in the past few years and I haven’t read enough so I have this weird collection of slop on the page. It’s time that I take what I like and throw away what I don’t, rules be damned. 

I need to spend time with myself and my words and create the author I want to be become so that next year I can set out towards that goal with reckless abandon…or diligent logic. 

I have many projects that haven’t lived up to their potential because I was unwilling to put my whole self into them. I was absolutely unwilling to allow my words to take a different shape but now, I’m more than willing and am excited to change my works.


This is the last point, but it is not the least important of the bunch. I am capable. I am capable of writing a book in thirty days, on only 18 of which I actually wrote. I’m capable of pushing through dry spells. I’m capable of being creative and overcoming a “block”. I’m capable of creating.

I am a capable writer

That was not something I knew before this journey. Not even though I’d already written three books which were all objectively better than this latest one. This journey smeared my ability all across my face. I cannot deny that I am a capable writer anymore. That means something to me. That’s what I’m taking away from this experience.

Photo by Caio Resende on Pexels.com

This month has been a big learning month for me. Despite everything happening, I managed to do a very hard thing. All it took was a little, or a lot, of extra determination and accountability. I genuinely surprised myself with my accomplishment and with what I learned about myself. I’m so glad that I did what I did and stuck with my project.

From day one, I wanted to quit but I decided not to. For whatever reason, I made that goal and couldn’t back done. Not even on the last day when I still wanted to give up.

I’m a better person for finishing that book. I’m a better person for not giving into my doubt.

What do you think?

Could you stand to use a little work on yourself? Make a goal, a really tough one, but stick to your guns and prove yourself wrong. At the end, take a few days to reflect on your results, your accomplishments or failures. How did you surprise yourself?

1 thought on “NaNoWriMo: What I Learned”

  1. I’m sorry for your losses this month and hope you’re doing well. I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo, although I want to in the future; it seems so daunting and intimidating for me at the moment! Plus, I feel like I really suck at fiction, haha. I’m certainly glad you had an inspiring post and takeaway from this experience. You are absolutely right and are capable to exercise your talent!

    I’ve found that I can review an old poem that I’ve been working on after some time and find a new angle and manage to write more. It’s such a wonderful feeling when that happens! I wish you the best on your writing journey, Nathalie!


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