Well that’s it. The bell has gone marking the end of National Novel Writing Month 2014.
If how I feel is anything to go by, around the world more than 300,000 writers are now looking back on the last thirty days and trying to figure out what just happened.
Winner badges are popping up across social media for those who smashed or staggered through the 50,000 word mark. However, there are other celebrations too, no less quiet or impressive. These are the people that may have fallen short of the target, but still changed their writing lives.
When you start NaNoWriMo it is all about that elusive and enormous word count goal, but as you write, fight exhaustion, obstacles and self-doubt you start to realise something else, something very exciting. Meeting the target isn’t really the point. The real purpose of NaNoWriMo is to encourage writers of any age, any experience level, across all genres to put their words down – one by one, day after day. It doesn’t matter if you pass 5,000 or 25,000 or even the magical 50,000 words – what really matters is that you are doing it, you are writing and every day it gets easier.
Halfway through November it looked highly unlikely I was going to come close to the target word count, but as I discussed then, I changed my mindset. I just decided to write whenever I could however I could. To my surprise, my word count climbed and climbed. On some days life kept me away from my story, while other days I became so immersed I didn’t even cook or eat dinner. On those nights, my story carried me along into the wee hours. Sometimes words came as a trickle other times a flood. I was getting addicted and would eagerly await the time I could sit down and write again. Then after a couple of big days of writing I realised with some surprise I was within reach of the target. With a busy weekend ahead (including the launch of the Writer’s Edit Anthology Kindling) I decided to go for it. I knuckled down on Friday night and wrote and wrote and wrote. At some point before midnight I started to wonder, had I done it yet? So I copied my novel into the word count box and clicked “validate”. The screen was filled with the word “Winner” – wow! Twenty-eight days and I had reached the magic number, but what excited me the most was that I had found the self-discipline to write, a lot! I doubt I would have made the same amount of time had I not committed to NaNoWriMo, but because I did I have proven to myself that despite the juggles of family and work, I can write often - there are no more excuses.
I've still got a bit of my novel to finish and many other stories and articles I want to write. Now I know I can, and will.
Congratulations to all my fellow winners and even bigger congratulations to everyone who was simply brave enough to sign up and say – I’m going to write, regardless of how many words you achieved. NaNoWriMo may have come to an end, but for everyone out there don’t think about it as a full stop. Perhaps just insert a dash and keep going - you’ve already proven you can!