A NaNoWriMo Reflection
Updated: Feb 24
I'm back after NaNoWriMo, and it didn't kill me!
This November was a whirlwind of really fun things.
1. I wrote the entire plot of a sequel to the book I wrote last July. It clocked in at 40k words, so I have a lot to add to it again, but I've done that before and should be able to do it again.
2. I interviewed four of writers I met on Twitter, from different genres and styles and techniques. This was super fun for me to see how others write and why others write. I hope you enjoyed it, too. You can find all of those interviews here.
3. I took a surprise trip back to my Alma Mater with five friends, surprising our teacher, hanging out together, and being blessed by the physical community of writers we all love so much.
As far as the writing aspect of NaNoWriMo goes, I vlogged my progress through the plot, which I finished in 13 days.
**Please keep in mind that my writing journey is not reflective of every writer's journey. Some writers spend all day writing and get down 100 words. If I spend all day writing I can get down 5k. Neither process is better or worse. Do not compare your writing journey to others. Speed is no mark of a good writer. Good writing is a mark of a good writer.**
Throughout this process, I have discovered that I am what I'll call a binge writer. The faster I can get the words down onto the page, the better. The longer I have to work on something before it exists, the faster I lose interest.
What does this mean for my writing process?
Well, it's simple really. It's the same reason I hate plotting beyond a general understanding of my goals for the books or specific scenes that have popped into my head and I don't want to forget them.
I get bored.
When I know what happens, I no longer feel the need to write it down. Discovering what happens as it's happening means I do a heck of a lot more editing, but it makes me actually write the book.
By binge writing, I manage to skip past that boredom stage, simply by pushing ahead so fast that I'm in a whirlwind and don't have time to consider being bored with the story.
However, binge writing has its downfalls.
As I said, I have to do a ton more editing. Much of that editing is adding in details, information, description, and context that I didn't put in the first time because I saw it. Going through more slowly, I can see what I skipped and make sure it's in the novel for other readers to see as well.
It is also exhausting.
Writing in itself is like digging a tunnel into a mountain for a new passageway. Sometimes you have to use a shovel, and sometimes you have dynamite. But it is hard work, and no matter what you do, you will face the drainage of your energy. I can only binge write for a few days at a time before I must stop.
I hit such a block and was so exhausted my friends were worried about me driving home. My brain had been working so hard that carrying conversations was difficult. And I was sleep deprived from staying up to write and waking up to write and carrying on the rest of my daily life (work, chores, planning a trip) all while doing this.
This is not a good thing.
I probably pushed too hard.
Binge writing is not sustainable. You're pulling emotions and stories and people out of yourself. You're traveling through the entire cast's emotional rollercoaster. It's no wonder I was wiped out by the end of the first week.
However, I can't argue with the results.
I have a book to edit now.
Will I write again for another few months? Probably not. It took me until October to recover from doing this in July, and it will likely take me until March or April to recover from doing this in November.
If you watch the daily vlog, you can see the exhaustion in my face. You can see the way my brain short circuits because I'm either on too much coffee, just woke up and am still exhausted, or have simply put too much energy into writing to be able to communicate any other way that day.
The bottom line is this:
Binge writing has pros and cons. It is a good, if not sustainable, way for me to write books. It is not a good way for many people to write books. It's okay if this doesn't work for you. I couldn't tell you exactly why it does work for me.
What about you? Did you try NaNoWriMo? How did it work for you? Do you enjoy binge writing like that or is the pace too hard to maintain for the month?
Let me know your experience in the comments.
J. J. Hanna graduated from Taylor University with a degree in Professional Writing. She's currently working with literary agent Cyle Young, learning to be a literary agent, and working as a freelance writer and editor. To hire her for editing, writing, speaking, or consulting, see the services tab. In her free time, she can be found cuddling with a cat, reading the latest suspense novel, or filming YouTube videos about the publishing industry.
Follow her on most social media @authorjjhanna