Nanowrimo Mistakes I’ve Made

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Nanowrimo is all about writing with abandon, getting the words on the page no matter what. Even if they suck, you can’t edit a blank page. Our local region has it’s own motto, “Yeah crap!”

Given that Nanowrimo is about writing with abandon, it’s also about taking risks and trying new things. In that vein, I regularly make mistakes in my Nanowrimo projects. Here are my top three Nanowrimo mistakes.

1. Trying to do Nanowrimo in college

I know some people manage to do Nanowrimo despite numerous life hurdles. They have jobs, kids, live events and still manage to write.

The thing about doing Nanowrimo while taking college classes is this, college involves a lot of writing anyway. To make matters worse, most schools end the fall semester around the first part of December. That often means the main research project is due sometime in late November.

My first Nanowrimo started off pretty well. But I was taking classes and the combination of novel writing and a couple of large research papers just got to be too much and something had to give. Since I wasn’t being graded on my novel, guess what gave. You live, you learn.

2. Plan a novel, then at the last minute, write something else

I made this mistake the next time around. I had my novel project all planned out and ready to go. Then on the night of the first write in I got to thinking, one of the original mottoes of Nanowrimo was “no plot, no problem.” So I decided to do a true Nanowrimo and scrap the project I had planned. Instead I came up with stuff on the fly.

It was fun, at first. Then I finished the story, around thirty five thousand words in. Ugh. Now what?

I finished that year, believe it or not. The entire last fifteen thousands words were nothing, long ramblings that didn’t really connect to the this story, or anything else. They were eventually all scrapped. Not to mention that the last week and half of that Nanowrimo was not an experience I would ever want to repeat. Some people are pantsers, but I am not one of them.

3. I’ve mastered the Nanowrimo pace. How about a side project?

Ugh. This is this year’s big mistake. I realized a couple years ago that Nanowrimo wasn’t the challenge it once was, in large part because I write at this pace, or nearly so, all year round. I write an hour or two a day, at a pace of around a thousand words an hour. So the 1,666 words a day you need to keep pace on Nanowrimo is about a typical day’s writing for me.

So this year I am writing a novel. I have this other side project I’ve been thinking about and researching. And in my spare time, I’ve started writing. Mistake. Now I am struggling to get my words in on Nanowrimo, not because I’m not writing but because I’m writing something else. Sigh.


So there are three big Nanowrimo mistakes I’ve made. I’m not really upset with any of them. You know why? Because a huge part of success lies in making mistakes. Mistakes and failure should be embraced as steps on the road, part of the process. So I will wear my mistakes proudly on my chest.

What about you? What Nanowrimo mistakes have you made? Let me know in the comments.

What's my side project? Well my cookbooks appear to be sprouting tabs. Hmm...

What’s my side project? Well my cookbooks appear to be sprouting tabs. Hmm…

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