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I won NaNoWriMo 2014! I validated last night at about 9:30PM at 50,021 words. And yes, I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

I spent a lot of my free time in November writing for this challenge, and even though I did, I never thought I’d make it this far at all. I’m not going to lie to you, it was a bit of a mess in the beginning, it’s a huge mess near the ending.

The story itself is no where near done, but I wrote 50,021 words of it, so I suppose it counts.  I think I would like to finish it, but it definitely needs a lot of cleaning up after the fact.

In any case, I’m pretty happy. I got my certificate, and I will most likely do this again next year.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned about this challenge:

  1. I don’t think I would have gotten far if I didn’t have an idea of my story. It’s an old story of mine, told in other formats before but never finished.  I still maintained most of the same characters and their personalities but shifted some elements around so it would make more sense.
  2. Steady progress is better than mad cramming towards the end.  I’d try to strive for the average count I’d need to complete… I made my own spreadsheet and everything, but it didn’t always happen that way. There were some weekends that I’d hope to catch up, where I just ended up staying in a vegetative state watching Battlestar Galactica.   By this last week, I was mad typing, trying to pull together action scenes, dialogue and suddenly my prose became lovely shades of purple. I wrote over 15k words in the past three days, and my hands were sore.
  3. Too many characters means too many stories, and you won’t finish a book in 50k. I have about five major characters in my story, and that doesn’t include love interests, supporting characters and of course the bad guys. They have individual stories that are supposed to weave together by the ending.  All that isn’t getting told in 50k. In fact, if anything this story is trilogy material. Ugh.
  4. I stayed in my comfort zone, so I completed this challenge at easy mode, I felt. I like characters and scenery more than I like plots, so building their background is fun.  I wrote about things that were familiar to me.
  5. Its so much easier to do this in a group for fun, support, and friendly competition.  I had originally joined the challenge to support a colleague of mine (who also won for the first time!), so I didn’t take it too seriously at first. Once things got rolling, it was easier. It was fun to keep up with each other,  updating eachother on our word counts, and we even planned our own write-in day.  I liked the dynamic.
  6.  I got writer’s-blocked a few times. I had to kind of force myself to not stand in front of that block, trying to figure out how to blast through it. I had to force myself to just walk around the block and move on. I’ll have to come back to the block and clear it when I can.
  7. Telling friends and family (through social media) was a great way to stay motivated. Their support in the form of “likes” and comments was great, and it also kind of told me that now I’ve told the world, I have to do it!
  8. Finally, the technical stuff: my laptop keyboard is messed up now. The “R” button was always loose, during this month, it completely fell off. This wasn’t a significant hurdle, as I wrote maybe over 90% on my iPad anyway.  Writing a book on the iPad was manageable, but I had to find the right app to do it.  I liked using Google Docs, but there is no word count function on the mobile app. (Boo!) I tried using Evernote, that wasn’t great either.  Then, I found from the NaNoWriMo forums that MS Word Online was a free app so I tried that; this was the winner.  Because I didn’t need anything fancier than a word editor with a word count, I tried to use the browser version of MS Word too… not good. I found when I used my laptop, the best way to do this was to open the file in Open Office and work through that.  It was a minor PITA, but over all, it worked.   I worked in several different files, which didn’t actually turn out as organized as I thought.  I made my own spread sheet in Google Docs to track my word count and progress.

And that’s it. Finally, I believe that it’s good to reward yourself after any real challenge you undertake.  So I will be doing that tonight with our little group.  And I’ll probably try this again next year too.

Here’s my end stats:

NaNoWriMo Page Screen

source: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/blackdaisies/novels

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