I Won NaNoWriMo. Now What?

It’s official.  I won NaNoWriMo.  I wrote 50,477 words of my novel and I can display a way cool badge on the blog.

So what now?  Do I have a complete novel?  Not even close.  I don’t even have half of a first draft.  I reread a little of it and realized the first 20,000 words can be condensed into about 2,000.   The story I wanted to tell didn’t get rolling until about 40,000 words in.  I have no ending.  It will be months before I have anything remotely close to a workable first draft.  I didn’t meet any of the goals I set for myself, other than meeting word count.

When I clicked the “verify” button and saw “Winner,”  I didn’t feel like a winner.  I felt like a big fat failure.  I didn’t write a post about NaNoWriMo on December 1 like everyone else because I didn’t think I’d accomplished anything.  Not really.  I was disappointed in the whole experience.

I was an idiot.

I absolutely accomplished something!  I started a novel.  I established a writing habit.

I learned things about myself as a writer.  I know that I write better at night, with music blasting in my ears.  I use the word, “just” too much.  I suck at describing setting.  I get carried away with love scenes and if I wanted to, I could totally write a sleazy, melodramatic romance novel, which, in turn, taught me it’s okay and even wise, to use the backspace button.

Most importantly, I have a Work In Progress, which I can refer to in random conversations  when I want to feel important.  I can say, “I’m writing a book…”  In my novel….”  or, if I’m feeling particularly pretentious, I can call it my “WIP” and explain what that means, thereby annoying dazzling my audience with my condescension intellect.

I AM a Winner.

National Novel Writing Month is over.  It’s December and time to focus on Christmas and that long 2 1/2 week vacation.  Oh, and that other goal I set in January.  The one where I said I’d read 50 books in 2011.

2011 Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge

Erinhasread 31 books toward her goal of 50 books.


19 books in 27 days.  Completely doable.  I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress through the blog, Facebook, and Twitter.**  I know you care deeply if I meet another random personal goal.

**Not really.  

Related Articles:
NaNoWriMo:  Are You In?
NaNoWriMo Week One:  Six Lessons
NaNoWriMo Dropout
NaNoWriMo:  The Last Three Days


25 thoughts on “I Won NaNoWriMo. Now What?

  1. Congratulations, I know you’ll accomplish NaNoWriMo. What a great way to start a novel. Perhaps I should take on the challenge next year. I have always wanted to figure out what kind of writer I am.

    Good luck with the remainder of the novel. Just one day Erin, I might see your name in a bookself somewhere.

  2. I know the feeling. Last time I did NaNoWriMo in 2009, I came away with half of a children’s novel that had too many characters (27 is too many, but how to choose which to cut out???), so many plot snarls that it is still impossible for me to untangle (that would take years of editing), and a wooden main character. And those are just the major problems; don’t even get me started on the minor problems in each individual paragraph. I kept writing and finished the entire novel in January of that year, and even went back to try some editing later, but the whole novel just… doesn’t…. work.

    However, I realized, like you, that I had set up a habit, a precedent. I had learned something about writing and about myself. I work well under deadline pressure. I get my best ideas just before I fall asleep or just as I’m waking up, when my brain is most relaxed and fuzzy. It helps to sleep on plot ideas for a few nights and let them gel and develop in your mind before sticking them in the story any which way. I write better in the early afternoon just after lunch. I’m really good at thinking of that perfect word without needing to consult a thesaurus. I write extremely boring dialogue and lots of it. I also use the word “just” too often! haha! Maybe that’s a common failing in writers.

    This year, I already knew those things about myself, and the novel came along more easily. I limited my number of characters. I kept the dialogue pertinent to the story. I didn’t let my plot get snarled up too bad. And I still used the word “just” too much! haha!

    They say everybody’s first novel is crap; I guess you don’t realize that your first novel really was crap until you are writing your second novel and looking back. Let’s keep learning! Keep writing! Maybe the third or fourth novel will finally be “The One.” 🙂

    • I’m keeping up with this one. I don’t think it’s total crap, but it needs some work. The parts that are “extra” have some good stuff, but need to be edited down. I think it’s a keeper. It just needs work.

      Oh my. There’s the “just” again. BTW, I think the overuse of the word “just” is particular to female writers. It’s a qualifier, an apology for what we say. That is why it HAS TO GO!

  3. It’s okay to write something awful :). I’m still terrified of going back and looking at my novel from the first year I won (2009). I wrote 50,000 words and didn’t even get to the plot. Yeah. It’s awful.

    But congratulations! To me, establishing a writing habit is the most important part of NaNo. Plus, it is awesome to say “I’m writing a book.” 😀

    • I honestly don’t think it’s awful. Actually, the extra stuff is good for the story, but it’s in the wrong place and not written correctly. I know I can make a go of this one. I’m going to finish out the story, put it away for a month or two, and go in for the editing. I’m interested to see how the writing changes from the NaNo portion to what I wrote after NaNo was over. I have a feeling I’ll learn even more lessons from NaNo!

  4. Out of the blue, around my birthday (July 26) I decided to read 100 books for my 35th year. I quickly ammended that to 50. Things were going slowly, until last month were I read 8. So far none down the hatch this month (woking on it) But I figure I have almost two months to read 11 and be right on track. I’m glad I’m not the only one that does this.

    • I read in spurts. When I started the Modern Library/Radcliffe Top 100 Novels of all time, I was reading almost 7 a week. I read both To Kill A Mockingbird and The Color Purple in 5 hours for each. But, not every book is To Kill A Mockingbird. I trudged through Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison for weeks before finally giving up. So BORING. The books I read this month will have to move fast or I’m abandoning them.

  5. I’m so glad you’ve come to the conclusion that you are a winner. I’m pretty pleased with myself for simply being disciplined enough to be writing every day. Like you, I have 50,000 or so words, but it will take a lot of work to turn them into a novel. I think January will be National Turn that Crap into a Real Story Month.

    • That’s an excellent idea. Maybe you should start a site for that. Good luck finding a clever shortened title for it. NaTuThaCraReStoMo doesn’t quite work…

  6. Congratulations on sticking with it, completing the exercise and being so far ahead to have something workable! Loved your tweets on the process and there was something very industrious about that desk and the diet cokes. Lesser folk, or those without 5 young children, would have hit the Jack ages ago but you have that to look fwd to! All best for the reading – have you read Glass Castles, by Jeannette Walls, or Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, by Jeanette Winterson?

    Keep at the writing!

    • I haven’t read either. Thanks for the suggestions. I never know what to pick up next. My library is kind of stinky, but I could use some more books on the Nook.

      I plan on doing some writing on the WIP tomorrow. Sunday afternoons are good for that kind of thing.

  7. Given you have 5 kids, a husband, a job and were washing laundry at 2.30am in the morning, I think you did an amazing job!

    I wish I could achieve the same word count in that number of days.

    C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. 5 kids andyou have a novel started that won!and you have read all those books!! i am so inspired! ha ha my progress on increasing my reading is not even1 book this year!!how shocking is that, i still haven’t finished, ‘memoirs of a geisha’ started earlier this year. i am going to check out the reading challenge link you have as i am ashamed. i have 3 kiddies…ok so y eldast has smith magenis syndrome (see my link ‘loving my self-harming child’) so soeties ifeel like ihave 100 kids but not even 1book this year!! so glad i found your site am now following janexxxxx

  9. Wow, that’s a huge achievement especially because you’ve ended up with something ‘useable’ that you can work on in the future. Be proud of yourself. Oh and all the best with reading yourself silly by the end of the year! 🙂

  10. You are a WINNER because you completed a goal. You also learned a lot about yourself as a writer–your strengths and weaknesses. So, you may not have a complete novel now, but you have new skills to work toward that goal!


    Visiting via Red Writing Hood

  11. Congratulations! Sadly I bombed at my first foray into NaNoWriMo but I did learn a few things I’ll incorporate going forward with my book. I think November, with all the holiday hoo ha gearing up, is not a great month for this adventure. January would be a better choice, in my opinion, but since I didn’t even truly compete I’ll keep my opinions to myself…except for this comment here on the winners blog. 😉

  12. So glad to hear you overcame your initial feelings of disappoint and are proud of your successes in NaNoWriMo! Congratulations!

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