Top 10 Lessons I Learned:
10. Writing sprints are gold. If you make a call out on Twitter with the hashtag #writingsprint, others will join you for a 30 or 60-minute sprint to the finish, writing as much as possible. Remember in NaNo, word count is the goal. I was amazed how productive I was. So much so, I continue to do writing sprints to this day.
9. “Write or Die” isn’t just a great bumper sticker.
8. Support matters. Having an online community during any writing challenge is essential. When you’re pushing yourself, having cheerleaders gives you the stamina to stay in the race.
7. Your characters are defined by the choices they make under pressure … and so are you.
6. Screenwriting isn’t novel writing … but that’s a good thing.
5. Novel writing isn’t screenwriting.
4. Writing is therapy. The beauty of novel writing is you can crawl in a character’s head and actually write what they are feeling inside. I felt like Sigmund Freud, psychoanalyzing my characters. The exercise was great for character research and helped me get to know my characters quickly.
3. There’s value in vomit. When I write a script, I edit each scene before I move on to the next. But with the NaNo deadline looming, I pushed forward, not stalling the creative process. The plot turned in ways I hadn’t expected.
2. I am capable of far more than I thought.
And the number one lesson learned by challenging myself … drumroll …
1. I. Was. Wrong.
By my letting go of control, my characters did indeed decide their own fate, and both their internal struggles and external conflicts changed, too. Dare I say, the story was better for it.