NaNoWriMo 2019 Recap

It’s been about two weeks since the end of NaNoWriMo 2019 and…well, it was a weird one. I’m not sure if it was problems with the new website, the world’s continuous descent into utter chaos or something cosmic (::cough:: mercury retrograde ::cough::) but I know I wasn’t the only one feeling a bit off this November. Judging by other Wrimos I follow on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, NaNoWriMo 2019 pretty much fell into one of two categories: 1) I won but it was so hard it made me rethink why I did this and if I’m going to participate again next year 2) I didn’t hit 50k so I didn’t “win” but I’m happier with my 30k/20k/12k words than I think I would have been if I pushed through to the full 50k. Or, of course, somewhere in between because I don’t know your life.

I fell solidly into the first of these categories. I finished NaNo with 50k words of a novel-like thing. But I wasn’t happy about it. In fact, I considered throwing the whole thing out somewhere around Day 10 but by that point, I’d already written 25k words and it seemed like a waste. I also had the same debate around the 35k mark and the 40k mark and only the fact that I was so close to a win helped me push through. I’m pretty sure the only person who was happy about my win was my husband because it meant I would stop complaining about how awful my story was and how much I hated it.

Between my NaNo experience and listening to many of the writers I follow, the common denominator for 2019 seems to be questioning what role NaNo plays in our lives, especially if we write all year long. While writing 50k in a month is still a challenge for me, it’s not as hard as it used to be and it’s certainly not the only way I can finish a novel. The second draft of my 2018 novel took about 9 months, but I finished it and it’s a hell of a lot more coherent than the crap I banged through in November.

I’m not ready to give up on NaNo because there’s a lot I still love about it. Even though I write all year, not everyone does and certainly not with the same intensity as they do in November. NaNo feels like an international holiday of writing, with videos and write-ins every day and a loud, determined community cheering each other on. So I can’t imagine ever not participating, but I think in the future, I might participate differently. I don’t think I’ll save an idea for NaNo or force myself to start a new project just because it’s November. And I don’t think I’ll tie myself to the 50k unless I’m at the right stage in my writing process to fast draft.

How did NaNo 2019 go for you? Did you hit 50k words? And if you did, are you happy with the words you wrote?

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