50,000 words in 24 days

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve actually done it.

I’ve written an entire book – from start to finish – in 24 days. Fifty thousand words, all strung together to form a coherent story, and I did it in just about three and a half weeks.

I feel ridiculously accomplished.

(Shameless plug: If you feel so inclined to check out the first chapter of my novel, you can read it on Wattpad. Please feel free to critique my work and leave comments. Yes, even if it’s harsh. I can take it.)

What are my big take-aways from this experience?

  1. Writing 50,000 words really isn’t that difficult. Writing 50,000 words in a manner that tells a story is more challenging, but not impossible. But writing 50,000 words from the mindset of a naive 15-year-old? Painful.
  2. There is a certain kind of camaraderie among fellow WriMos that can’t be explained to non-WriMos. It’s almost like you have to live through the frenzied 30-day self-imposed deadline in order to fully appreciate the insanity.
  3. Putting the Calendar Widget on my blog was one of the best motivators to get me to write at least the minimum 1,667 words each day. I still had two yellow squares (not including today’s), but I would have had so many more if I didn’t feel like I would be judged by the four people who actually visit my blog.
  4. I like outlining and wish I realized it sooner. I certainly didn’t stick to my outline the entire time; there were still some twists I definitely didn’t see coming (and I’m the writer!). But it really helped me stay on track.
  5. It also helped that my friend’s 11-year-old daughter signed on as an early Beta reader and demanded chapters on a daily basis. You don’t ever want to upset an 11-year-old girl.
  6. I had a lot of difficulty silencing my Internal Editor (IE), but I also discovered that I rely on her a lot. Yes, I could have easily gone off on random tangents a number of times (and in my revisions, I may very well need to take some of those journeys to add descriptors to the story), but my IE kept me focused. And I welcomed that, especially since I had a Beta reader who just wanted to know what happened next. (See #5.)
  7. Writing a novel is a lot harder than reading one. But it’s infinitely more gratifying when you get to the end.

So, for me, anyway, my NaNoWriMo 2012 journey is finished. I’ll get my word count validated in the morning, receive my certificate, order my Winner’s Shirt, and bask in the knowledge that it’s done. Many of my fellow WriMos won’t be done for another week, though. Some may not even make it to 50K by the end of the month, but that’s okay. The important thing is that they’re still writing.

The important thing is that we are all writing.

But Camp NaNoWriMo begins in April, and I’ve got a character from this novel who is begging to have her story told, too. So as I wait for feedback from friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers on this novel, I suppose I can start the rough outline for the next. And maybe the one after that.

Because my biggest takeaway from NaNoWriMo?

I can do this – and I know I can because I already did it!

I’m Eileen Caines, and I’m a novelist.

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