What I Learned from NaNoWriMo 2016 (AKA. in which i actually just ramble)

6:00 AM

You're probably getting tired of these, because let's face it: everyone is going to do a nano recap.

But you know what?


So I'm gonna tell you how nano went for me and some things I learned because I'm sure you're all dying to know.

This is draft two of this post. I ditched the last one after I’d done this to about 50% of the thing and realized I was going absolutely nowhere. And embarrassing myself.



Let’s see if I can be a bit more coherent this time round, yes?

I’d like to not just blab about my nano project, but give you a bit of brain thoughts to ponder. We’ll see. (I’m already rambling, aren’t I? I guess this post is determined to be a rambling post.)

For those of you who don’t know, I DID finish my novel! The last two days of Nano were … crazy, for lack of a better word.

I whipped out the last 15k in them, determined to finish. I know some people can do that much in a DAY, but this month wasn’t like that for me. I averaged about 3k a day, making several 5k days and three 7k days. My highest day was 8k, on the 29th. The novel itself came to a close at 94k words. Which … is not an acceptable word count for a MG novel. *proceeds to pound head against desk*

I also had something going on EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKEND. O.O I spent six nights away from home. That caused a bit of stress, but it all turned out well in the end! 

But I'm rambling. Here, let me tell you what I learned this month in a bit more orderly fashion. 

1) It is actually OKAY to write something new. 

I’d been working on draft 2 of TC for like, seven months. I was going a little crazy. Plus, I still have not received feedback on the three chapters I sent off, so the whole book was beginning to look rather ugly to me, dirtied in my eyes by the raging doubts and fears of my poor little writer heart.

But this book was just so … refreshing. I’m sitting here, and I know there’s a bunch of stuff to be fixed and lots of edits to be made. But I’m hopeful. And, really, I don’t have a single negative thought about this book. I don’t hate it, which will probably change when edits come round. But I don’t hate the mistakes I’ve made. I know they’re there, and that’s okay.

It's really nice to have something you can be proud of. Something you can feel good about when one child is being stubborn.

Breaks are important. Not just writing breaks in general, but breaks from specific projects.


I wasn’t really expecting this to be much of a problem, but it kind of was. In the depths of my sleepiness ridden nano nights, I would type out the wrong names and have the wrong characters speak and characters answer their own questions and some characters basically disappear because INCLUDING SIX CHARACTERS IN CONVERSATION IS HARD. Especially when it’s in certain characters’ natures to be quieter? But then somehow when you write a character who is quiet in conversation, it’s hard to make them not disappear.

3) WRITING MIDDLE GRADE IS HARD (at least considering word count and not killing people

A 94k word middle grade book is … not okay. So I need to do some serious cutting on that. I don't know how that's a possibility right this second, but that's what edits are for ... right? *uneasy laugh*

But yeah, writing middle grade has actually been really fun. When I write YA it's just so HEAVY and I don't know why but whatever. This book wasn't a bundle of happiness and rainbows and laughter, but it did have its moments. AND I ONLY GOT MISTY ONCE WHILE WRITING. I DIDN'T FULL OUT SOB AT THE END LIKE I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO.

Hm? Ha. No. Of course I didn't write a sad ending. Would I do that?

4) First drafts can bring new ideas and surprises 

Of course, I already knew this. But STILL. I say, go for it! Embrace them. It’s always super fun to surprise yourself

My biggest surprise from DW was probably the chapter length, which averaged about 600 words. 

,,,that's really short, guys.

I wasn't sure how I felt about this at first, but I ended up really liking the short chapters. It made things feel like they were happening faster, and allowed me to take full advantage of my omniscient POV while not head hopping, since I generally kept with one POV for each chapter. 

So if your book takes a turn you didn't expect, embrace it! The chapter length is just one example. This book gave me a nice amount of surprises, and I can't wait to see what edits will bring. Be bold! After all, what do you have to lose? 

And I guess that's really my last point so now I'm going to bold it to make it more meaningful and official.

5) Be bold with your writing. What do you have to lose?

Throw in an elephant named Herald? Sure.

A bridge of living birds? Dude, totally. 

Turn a car that's sinking into the liquid-like earth into a bunch of rubber chickens? Why not.

It's your book. And with draft one, it's yours and yours alone. A good friend once told me that draft one is just you telling yourself the story. So be bold with it. Be crazy! What do you have to lose, anyway? With the type of book I wrote, I had so many ways to be bold and crazy. I needed to be bold and crazy. I wouldn't have gotten a lot of good ideas if I hadn't taken the plunge.

Ignore that inner editor and ask, "Why not?"

I know, I know. This was a slightly rambling post. BUT IT'S BETTER THAN DRAFT ONE, I PROMISE. Next week I will give you a nice, clean post about the beauty of messy art. 

And since you've made it this far, HAVE SOME SNIPPETS. *hurls all my first drafty writing in your faces*


Wolf is my faaaavorite


Wimbo is also my favorite XP


And that's all of my first draft writing that you're going to see XP 

HOW DID NANO GO FOR YOU, MY LOVELY STALKER BEANS? What did you learn? Did your book surprise you? 


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  1. Ahhh NaNo was awesome! Utterly insane, but awesome. xD I barely reached 50k, and my novel is probably only a little over a third done. I may still be working on it by the time April's Camp NaNo comes around, but HEY. I made a tone of progress.

    Now I'm taking a break to focus on school and studying and exams (ugh) and then also the holidays and all the work that goes into that. *nods* EEK BUT I'M EXCITED!

    Love your snippets! They have a very whimsical, MG feel. I'm sure that whoever reads it will love it. <3 (and I totally get you about having to restrain the violence/heaviness. :P)

    1. Yesssss that's so amazing! *hugs* Taking a break is probably the best thing to do after nano <3

  2. Ohmygoodness, you have a character named Wimbo??? I have character named Wimbo! Do you mind telling me how you came up with it???

    1. Aw how cute! Is your Wimbo a person? I have a six year old girl (Agatha) who has a stuffed animal wombat. And I was like, what's a name for a wombat? And I was kind of playing around with sounds and Wimbo just kind of happened. Wimbo the wombat - makes me crack up every time. I love how it sounds and it seemed a very six year old ish name so I went with it!

    2. Oh, okay!

      Yeah... A teenage girl. "Wimbo" actually means "song" in Swahili? And almost all my characters have Swahili names.

      The only reason I wanted to know was if Wimbo was a really well-known name and I somehow didn't know that... I want all the names to be pretty obscure, ya know?

      Oh that is so cute! I love her name (Agatha's, that is), by the way! Having a stuffed wombat sounds like the cutest thing (even if I'm not entirely sure what a wombat is...). :) Admittedly, Wimbo makes a very good "made up by a child" name!

  3. CONGRATS ON FINISHING!! And 92K is a lot so oh wow I shall just bow to your writing stamina!! I wrote a 100K book in April and I was so exhausted afterwards haha. But that was YA (although I still want to trim it)...maybe your MG could be split into two books since it's so big?! Either way, good luck with the edits and rewrites! I HOPE YOU HAVE HAD ALL THE CAKE TO CELEBRATE.
    And I also completely agree about how fun it is to work on a new project. <3 It's so exciting and yayyyy for all the new possibilities!!

    1. You are such a writer queen AHHH. And I really want to keep it at one book, but who knows? We'll see, I guess. I'll just have to do a lot of trimming come edits. And I HAD MOOSETRACKS AND COFFEE SO WRITER HEART IS HAPPY XP

  4. Congrats on all those words!!!!

    For my nano, I did write something new. I'd never written a novel as fast-paced as my nano novel, and with so many explosions ;) (I like swords and bows...the old fashioned way)

    Lovely post! <3

    - audrey caylin

    1. Ahhhhhh that sounds like such a fun book! That was how my nano novel was last year. Something was always going on, and the plot never slowed down. This year was a lot more ... Whimsical. Congrats to you too!

  5. James Oliver12/4/16, 6:35 AM


    1. Heehehe thanks XP I felt like I was rambling, honestly. I suppose it couldn't be helped. STARS, THO. AHH. WOMBATS ARE MY NEW FAVORITE. *actually looked up a video of angry, hissing wombats part way through nano for research*

  6. Wow!!! Congrats!!! Was a funny post. 😂👏🏼

    1. Heehehe I'm glad you enjoyed it XP I felt very rambly. Hopefully next week will be more coherent!

  7. You did so wellllll and *coughs* If you need an alpha for this one...

    1. I really really really want to get this one beta readers next year, but I'm not sure how easily it will come in edits so WE'LL SEE. But I hope to announce a beta project sometime next year ... ;)


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