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I wrote 50,000 words of fiction in November, and here are some thoughts

I did National Novel Writing Month, aka Nanowrimo, in November 2019.


  • Write ~1700 words a day to hit the 50k word count, which is the length of The Great Gatsby.

  • The book started off as a political drama, devolved into a romance, then hit a dead end. I solved the dead end by pushing the protagonist off a cliff into a lake, entirely on a whim. The next writing session, I resolved it by creating a water deity to save him, and gave him a magic sword to boot. Thus, the rest of the book became a fantasy.

  • I planned for a week beforehand, brainstorming a full plot, and once I got started, it all went in the trash. I entirely pantsed” my novel, as opposed to plotting it out.

  • Trick is to lower quality bar, esp. if you have little creative writing experience. An example of my average quality during the month:

Then, it occurred to me. Crete and Amethyr would have to renew their peace accords. That was a task with subtleties, that wouldn’t do itself. No one else could do it, really. There was no one else to negotiate the terms, and…

I just got it out, even though most of the words here are redundant.

If you’re struggling to write, lower the quality bar further. When I was starting, I kept wondering how bad the writing could be. But seriously, I’m telling you, anything goes. A few rough days towards the end, I was just pooped, and I wrote the scenes with my eyes closed. Just typing whatever I wanted to.

  • Read No Plot No Problem by Chris, the Nanowrimo guy. He helps navigate through the emotions, which is especially important for the first week. He has also a lot of actionable tips. I credit actually starting Nanowrimo this year to reading this book.

  • Tip: Do something with a small world and small cast of characters, it’s easier. E.g. a romance, which is what my novel became, LOL

  • Don’t write a Great American Novel unless you read Great American Novels. Easier to write what you read a lot of. For me, fantasy.

  • No plans to edit the novel I wrote. Also, no plans to show anyone excerpts or anything. I’m a pretty open person, but this novel is pretty trash, so hands off

  • It’s a special experience to write a novel. Your experience suddenly all become novel fodder, which is an awesome way to live life. You start looking at all happenings and interactions as extremely interesting. I think it makes you a better person and a more observant person. I really enjoyed this aspect of it all.

  • You actually get immersed in this other world and your characters do become real to you. They were real to me. I could have a happy day, and then having to write the death of one of my characters, I would end up crying and all mellow. Or vice versa sad => write a cute moment between main couple => happy.

  • I’m hella proud of finishing. It was a beautiful experience tbh, and my time with my characters are some sweet memories to look back on.

  • When I finished, I was grinning like a fool. I spent the next thirty minutes, singing and dancing to Un Poco Loco from Coco.

I imagined myself singing the lyrics to my finished novel:

You make me un poco loco, un poquititito loco The way you keep me guessing, I’m nodding and I’m yes-ing I’ll count it as a blessing that I’m only un poco loco

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