“Reflections on NaNoWriMo” by Herndon Writing Center Tutor Lindsey

Today’s post is part of our weekly CAPTA Writing Center Tutor post series. Each week over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring posts from various CAPTA Writing Center blogs written by CAPTA Writing Center Tutors. If you’re interested in submitting original content or if you would like us to feature a post from your writing center’s blog, email us at: capta.connects@gmail.com and be sure to include “Blog Post” in the subject line.

Today’s featured post originally appeared on the Herndon Writing Center’s Blog, “Write Here, Write Now,” in December 2014. Lindsey has been working with her fellow tutors over the past few months to revise her novel. You can read the original post here.


10th Grade Tutor Lindsey took it upon herself to participate in the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. In addition to being a Varsity athlete and a stellar student, Lindsey wrote an entire novel in the month of November. Here are Lindsey’s thoughts on her experience:

This past month, I participated in national novel writing month, or NaNoWriMo for short. The goal of this is to write 50,000 words in a month for a novel, or 1,667 words daily. Through the site, participants can have writing buddies and engage in conversations in forums about anything and not be limited to writing or novels. These features make it easier to focus and keep working if others are working right alongside of you, not to mention an enjoyable aspect.  Throughout the month, real, published authors give pep talks about their own experiences and tips for writing a novel. This year, Veronica Roth, author of Divergent, gave a pep talk. She was one of many, but she was the most recognizable, to me at least. I saw people participating in this last year through social media sites and always thought it was interesting. This year, I thought I would give in a try, so I created an account on a whim. I didn’t expect much, but I managed to complete my novel with two days to spare. In the end, I wrote 50,107 words taking up 82 pages, single spaced. Now that I am looking over my novel, I am noticing so many things wrong with it including plot holes and limited character development. I have a lot of editing to do before it is ready to read. I am excited to make this a completed piece and am extremely proud of myself to complete this daunting task. I was sure I would give up after a week, but 50,000 words later, here I am.

NaNoWriMo was such a great experience. I have developed as a writer and learned a lot about my writing style. I didn’t do that much planning, which was a mistake. I know for next year to plan carefully and stick to the plan. I drifted so much from my original plan that it the end didn’t make much sense. I knew this was a learning experience going into the month, so I was prepared to make many mistakes. I met so many great people through this program. I went to write-ins at my local library. Even though they were all adults and I was the only teen there, they welcomed me and I got some great writing done in that time. I also met a teen in Michigan with similar interests to me. We sent messages back and forth to encourage each other throughout the month.

Some things I learned:

  • Writing in first person is difficult because it doesn’t give much freedom in perspectives. I always thought first person would be the easiest, but there were many times I wished I could write what was happening elsewhere.
  • Planning is needed to know where the plot is going to go. I had a simple idea, but it ended up getting muddled with new ideas. The theme I was going for wasn’t clear.
  • Think of the backgrounds of the characters and why they feel the way they do. It helps to have all their character traits written out to refer to when writing.
  • It is difficult to advance the plot. Be careful on the action versus internal monologue. I found I would write an internal monologue rather than getting to the good, action parts.
  • It really helps to have other writers surrounding you. If there are writing groups at school or in the community, join them.

I would highly recommend participating in NaNoWriMo. It was so creative and a unique opportunity. In school, there are little opportunities to write with no limitations. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, that could change when trying something new. To find out more, visit nanowrimo.org to sign up and get started.

Image credit: nanowrimo.org

Leave a Reply