The Many Faces of Winning

2013-Winner-Square-ButtonIf you’re my friend on Facebook, you know I spent November writing between 2,000 and 5,000 words every weekday to “win” the distinction of writing a novel in 30 days. People wanted to know what the prizes were for winning.
Let me explain National Novel Writing Month.
The purpose of having a month focused on writing a novel is to generate excitement for reading and writing. The idea of writing 1667 words every day to complete 50,000 words in 30 days helps aspiring authors to understand a professional writing pace.
For more information, you should visit the website. The event has become internationally recognized. I was buddies with a woman in Ireland.
What do you win? There are five faces to winning National Novel Writing Month:
Bragging Rights
This competition is a big deal. People everywhere have heard about it. Over 300,000 writers signed up to participate this year. Only a fraction of them complete 50,000 words in 30 days.
I can say, “I wrote a novel in a month.” Can you?
Free and Reduced Price Goods
A ton of businesses sponsor this event. Their name gets bandied around by the thousands of participants. In exchange, they grant special offers to participants and winners. Yes, you can get a discount just for trying to write a book in a month.
Some of the sponsors this year were: Createspace, Scrivener (which I used to write my novel but had already purchased for full price months ago), Wattpad, Lulu.com, Storyist Software, Swoon Reads, Leanpub, Aeon Timeline, Jukepop Serials and eight others. Check out the list here.
A Network of Writing Allies
When I wrote this post, there were 79,635 users online at nanowrimo.org. That’s only a small percentage of total participation.
People I’ve never met friended me on Facebook and wrote encouraging comments on my word count updates. I returned the favor.
Published authors shared their wit and wisdom during the event. Most of the people I’ve met in the industry reach out to us newbies and offer authentic help. Networking is important in any industry but is especially helpful for beginning writers.
Enthusiasm for your Project
When days go by between visits to the fantasy world of my creation, I become less than excited about the story. I forget what my characters want and I lose touch with their voices.
Some writers experience drought during November, but I never stalled. Will every scene be perfect? Doubtful. I kept writing though and my characters threw in a few surprises.
I’ve been lukewarm about this project since scrapping my first attempt at the first book. I forced myself to go through the motions and write the new story. I didn’t connect with it though.
I’m connected now. I know when I go back and revise the first book, my knowledge of my characters and my passion for their story will make it stronger. All because I sat down with the intention of “winning” NaNoWriMo.
Success
I finished a book. In fact, I was done on November 23. The first day to officially “win” was November 25.
Writing requires diligence and the payoff is far in the future. Someday an agent will sign me. Someday my book will hit the shelves. Someday I’ll get a paycheck for my hours of labor.
When I finished this challenge, success became reality.
For a writer, these final three items are essential. Writing is a lonely profession. During my writing time, I interact solely with my cast of characters (oh, and my cat when he checks in on me from time to time).
Most of the time, no one knows how many words I’ve written in a day or how many hours it took me to write them. During November, we post our word count daily on the website. We’re encouraged to make status updates about it on Facebook. Accountability is one of the things that keeps fledgling writers from throwing in the towel halfway through the month.
Would I have liked a cash prize? Only a liar would say no. But the intrinsic value of winning the contest in its current format is priceless.
I now know that I can write at a 3,000 words per day pace. This is a professional rate of work. Once I revise the novel, I’ll know my revision rate. Then I can combine the two and be able to tell my agent and editor exactly how many books they can expect from me in a year. I’m going to guess either three or four.
That’s crazy! But it means I can do this “professional author” gig.
If I hadn’t won NaNo, I might still be wondering if I’d made the right decision in quitting my day job to pursue my dream.

3 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Winning

  1. Great blog post. I too participated in NaNo, first timer. I love how you started your blog post with a little history. SMART! Wish I had done that. Congrats and BEST of luck!

    Curious, you mention going the “agent” route. Why? (I get asked this all the time by my Indie/Self writer friends).

    1. Tam-
      Thanks for the compliment and commenting!

      I think I’m seeking validation more than anything through my publishing path. I’ve seen too many books published that weren’t ready. I don’t want that to be me. My husband is a strong proponent of self publishing, but I want to try an agent first, then an independent publisher before jumping in with both feet at Amazon and KDP.
      –Sharon

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