So the first thing I want to say is that I achieved the 50,000 words of the NaNoWriMo (NaNo) challenge in 23 days, not 30. So, I am very happy with that achievement. After finishing that challenge, I gave myself an additional challenge of finishing the book. I think I did that the next day if I remember correctly, so check and done. Then I was a bit lost, torn between starting the next book, The Found, and starting to edit The Lost, I want to get this series done for you all before my uni studies get a lot heavier in 3rd and 4th year, then I can casually write my next project. In the end I decided to give the Lost a little break to rest and I started the plan for The Found within a few days I had a working plan for the book, I already did one I just had to make a few changes based on where the second book ended up. By that point I still had 4 days of NaNo to go so I set myself a little goal, since it’s the start of the book and they sometimes take longer to write the opening scenes. To me 10,000 was completely doable.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it for a couple of reasons. The first one, on the Friday I got out of the house and went to The Edge at Southbank to meet up with a couple of other NaNo writers. We ended up socialising more than writing. Then on Saturday, the chicken I had from Nando’s while I was in the city on Friday gave me food poisoning which then turned into an infection. It took me 4 days to properly recover from this and I spent most of 3 of them sleeping in bed. So, I missed out on making my final word count goal for the month and going to the last write-in (meet up) with the NaNo group on Saturday. Sickness aside I am really unhappy that I didn’t get to go, I was really enjoying the social aspect throughout the month. To be completely honest I haven’t written anything since Friday, it wasn’t possible while I was sick and I spent yesterday deep cleaning the house and doing the groceries, but I’m hoping to change that and write some words today since I am still excluded from work for the contagious infection I got.
So, onto more about my experience rather than the results of my goal. I honestly enjoyed the NaNo experience, I said in my earlier posts about it that I was trying to fully immerse myself into the experience as much as possible for my first time. The hard part for me would be the socialising, with moderate social anxiety I don’t usually go out of my way to socialise, especially with people I don’t know. But the agreement that I could practically ignore Kieren (fiancé) for an entire month was that I at least try to do some of the social parts of it. I agreed, though reluctant at the time. The kick-off party went well, Kieren backed out of being my social buffer for the day so I was left to fend for myself. I can’t tell you how welcoming they were, it was overwhelming in a good way. I got included in conversations even though nobody knew me at all, not once did I feel socially overwhelmed that day. That night I went home and told Kieren all about it and how I was keen to keep trying the social stuff.
Then came the writing and my first write-in. I can’t tell you how many words I got done, I posted a little bit about it in my last post but I got introduced to word wars which are basically a series of writing stints with a break in between each one to help boost productivity. I spent most of the month writing on wars and I think I am addicted, so good for my productivity, I think I averaged at about 400 words per 15 minute stint.
My first write-in was the difficult one, it was an all day one at a Coffee Club in the city. There were heaps of people there and I got stuck in the middle of it all and the noise became really overwhelming and my headphones weren’t helping me to retreat like I thought they would. It was not a productive several hours. I ended up leaving not long after 3hrs. But I was happy because at least I tried. I re-joined them virtually on discord when I got home as they had the wars set up that I could jump into.
That was the worst of it though, it was the biggest write-in of the month because it was the first. I went to as many write-ins as I could across the month and even went to a few unofficial ones organised by writers instead of NaNo managers. At first I would set myself to the edge of the crowd, after that first attempt I was more mindful of this and I was able to cope for longer periods of time than before and I was able to spend the entire day with a group of people, like the Friday I got food poisoning, I had been with them from 12-7pm. By the end of the month I was able to put myself in the thick of things and if I started feeling crowded or overwhelmed I would put my headphones on and zoned out from the conversation for a bit. There was a loose rule that if someone is wearing headphones leave them be, they would re-join when they were ready. This really helped me through the write-ins and I am now at the point where I only need to zone out the chatter during the wars otherwise I will get distracted and chat, and this is enough zone out time for me to enjoy my day writing socially.
As far as my opinion of NaNo… The BrisNaNo tribe is amazing. They are welcoming, kind and supportive of all newcomers. I got easily accepted into the tribe and I feel like I have found my tribe to socialise with. So much so that I am putting myself down for their monthly meetups during the year as a regular writer’s group. They are now my writing group. I was looking for one of those for months but all my local ones were on weekdays and at stupid times that clashed with my day job. These ones are monthly and on a Saturday so I can work with that, easily. So in all I definitely recommend giving NaNo a go if you want to, you don’t have to reach 50k set a smaller goal for yourself, going into it I had 30k as my happy with it goal but I did better than I thought I would. I 100% recommend at least joining the BrisNaNo discord group if you are a writer in, around or near Brisbane we welcome all. Writing can be isolating and it is good to get the social aspect that I was missing for so long. I’m glad that I finally decided to give it a go because it has dramatically improved my social anxiety in less than a month.
Going forward I have made this my mandatory writing day each month along with a day to write at SLQ in the morning and The Edge in the afternoon, I plan to invite the writers group to join me on this day also but I’m not fussed if I am alone for the day. These two days are my mandatory monthly days, which means no changing it for other plans, especially the writer’s group, The Edge I can reschedule, no uni during this time, it means when uni/work/life gets busy, I still have a bit of time each month to sit down and write. Kieren thinks this is a great plan and is massively on board with the no change rule. I will also be working over the next couple of months to get The Lost revised and edited before I send it to my editor hopefully by the end of January. So you will be seeing this book published in 2020. As for NaNoWriMo next year I’m not too sure at this point about participating, I’m getting married a few weeks before it kicks off so I will see how I go closer to the time but I will be likely to at least participate unofficially with the NaNo group at their write-ins.
Anyway that is everything I wanted to say, if you stuck with me this long I thank you I had a lot to say about my experience, most of it positive and the negative wasn’t on the part of NaNo it was just my social anxiety. I am looking forward to editing and finishing the White Wolf Trilogy in the coming months and will keep you all updated on my progress.