3 Lessons From Winning NaNoWriMo 2 Years In A Row

I first participated in National Novel Writing Month three years ago.

The first year, I wrote completely blind. I had never written a book before, and I was sure that my novel was rubbish.

The second year, I wrote a book, and I thought my book was a decent effort, but not exactly complete.

The third year I was already in the middle of writing a novel, so I didn’t officially compete.

This year, my fourth year, following my current trajectory, I will complete two 120k novels in November, and get partway into a third. Here are the three big lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo:

  1. Just start. There is magic and power in doing a thing, even if you don’t yet know how to do it well. Just start writing, and hold yourself accountable to some standard. You will respect yourself for it, and you will have begun your journey. Just start now.
  2. Only listen to yourself. I have yet to meet a human being who believes another human being when they say, “I’m going to write a book.” So many people start books and then don’t finish them, or talk about their idea for a book, but then don’t start it, that these people can, perhaps, be excused for their skepticism. But don’t inflict their doubt on yourself. Keep your nose clean. Keep your writing to yourself, unless you have an awesome support person.
  3. Write rubbish. The most important thing you can do for yourself as a writer is FINISH BOOKS. The more novels you complete, the more you grow to respect yourself as a legitimate author. Success and completion breed more success and completion.

Happy National Novel Writing Month, everybody!

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