Last year after NaNoWriMo 2010 ended, I did an Unofficial NaNoWriMo Exit Survey on December 1st. I didn’t have a ton of responses, but the few I did receive gave some great advice. So here are the highlights from the survey. I will be running an Unofficial NaNoWriMo Exit Survey on December 1st of this year too.
I’d like to thank the 9 people who filled out the survey last year. Your responses were fantastic, thank you so much! I look forward to your comments this year.
NaNoWriMo Exit Survey 2010
Question 2: This question was worded weird and I intend to change it for the coming year since it doesn’t exactly ask what I wanted it to. Here are the highlights:
- I think it is VERY telling that, to the question of “I wish I had prepared prior to November 1st” 3 of the 9 respondents answered yes, while 6 of the 9 responded that they did prepare. Whether the preparation included writing an outline, character bios, or doing research, I think everyone stands a better chance of making it to the end of November as happy and healthy as they went in if they spend some time preparing before the kick-off date.
- Another interesting response was to “I wish I had written every day, no matter what” in which 5 of the 9 people agreed with this statement. I think this ties into preparation, too.
- I was surprised by the answers to “I wish I’d gone to a write-in.” I thought this would be higher, but more people seemed disinterested in these than I anticipated. I’d like to know your thoughts about write-ins – Do you anticipate going to any this year?
- Week Three I was pulling teeth all week. Support from Sommer got me through and then the story began to move again. I think week three is “that place” in the story for me where I could drop the ball, all sorts of doubts, a really tough writing spot.
My response: I’ve heard about the Doom of Week Three before, that it can be one of the hardest to deal with. I don’t know who left this comment, but it made me blush. They’d totally get a Christmas card from me this year!! I love being a NaNo champion for others.
- Having a very high personal goal but got tired and thus easier to get distracted with other things like life and wii.
- I kept my eye on the purple bar in the NaNo website graph and made that my biggest motivator – and there was only one day during all of November where I fell behind! I had days where my daily 1667 words came relatively easily, and days where I stared at my computer screen for four hours trying to come up with any excuse not to write, but my obsessive determination to stay on track paid off in the end.
- Completing at least 50,000 words of a novel that I will later finish since 50k isn’t long enough for epic fantasy.
- I didn’t know a lot of other people doing NaNo, but having just a few buddies to compete with and encourage was a huge help in making me keep going. I’m still a bit in shock that I won, honestly – I am usually a painfully slow writer, so this was a huge step forward for me. When I got close to the end, I was so excited about finishing that I ended up skimping on sleep and hitting 50k a couple days early.
6. If you could go back to October 31st and give yourself some advice about the coming month, what would it be?
- Don’t spend so much time on the boards. Just write instead. And go to the write in the first Tuesday. The blizzard warning turned out to be nothing.
- Remember that tomorrow is November 1st!
- Stick close to Sommer’s blog posts instead of working with a serious outline, just throw myself off and see what can happen!Relax and have fun!
- A couple of days off after 50k is fine but you’ll feel better if you distract yourself by trying to finish the novel.
- Plan more! More more more! Every time I had trouble, it was because of a big gaping hole in my plotline. I don’t do well when I pants. Also, don’t start the month imagining you’ll have a valid first draft. Yes, it happened the year before, but by expecting it again I set myself for a disappointment.
- Try to get a decent amount of sleep, even if you are really excited. Don’t panic when characters do unexpected things. Accept that there is no way you’re going to be finished in 50,000 words, no matter how much you try to keep to an outline, and enjoy the journey anyway.
- Write every day and don’t worry if it’s bad; no one has to see it!
8. What resources do you wish you’d had?
- More motivation…
- I really do wish I had been able to go to a write-in! I’m hoping next year, when I’ll actually be in the US, I can get involved with more of the in-person activities. I would love to have met other Wrimos.
- I am honestly rather content with what the site has to offer for Wrimos, though I’m sure there’s people with great ideas for more out there.
- A local writing group.
- Someone reading bits or someone to comment at end of month on bits. It’s hard to write that much and no one to read and comment.
- A whole library
9. If you could give advice to a brand new NaNoWriMo participant in 2011, what would it be?
- Go to a write in, meet people, have fun, don’t lose hope. Make an outline if that works for you. Enjoy the journey, and don’t be too concerned with what comes after.
- Write! Every day, no matter how crappy it is. You can go back and edit it later.
- Prepare ahead!
- Have a ball
- Don’t stress, just write.
- It’s more about the fact that you write something you want to write, making the actually 50k isn’t as important as just getting further in the story.Have fun. Enjoy your characters and your story, and forget how lame the writing is. The point of NaNoWriMo isn’t nice prose, and even if you have to start over at the end of the month, I promise you’re not wasting your time.
- Go meet your region. Seriously. The little web of support you’ll create with other Wrimos might save your NaNo. There are people near your home who are cheerful, creative and supportive, and they wait only for you to join them. Do it! The NaNoWriMo community is one of the most open-minded and fun I’ve found anywhere! (Of course I am a Municipal Liaison, so I am completely biased about the region aspect of NaNo, but I *really* gained something from my region. It’s a MUST to me.)
- Never give up. Write every day even if it makes you want to tear your hair out. Find a couple people close to you and talk them into doing it with you. If you can, choose someone who writes faster than you do – it’s great motivation!
10. Do you find NaNoWriMo worthwhile for aspiring writers? Why or why not?
- YES! This was my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, and it was the first time that I actually got a novel past the first 20 pages. It’s a great tool to get you past the planning stages and into the writing!
- Yes, I do. One learn to write against a deadline.
- Yes, absolutely! It shows you, you can write that much! It’s FUN! It gives you a structure that’s over the top, so then, afterward you really can write in a disciplined manner. The more you write, the better a writer you will become.
- I think NaNo is great for writers who just want to have fun for the sake of writing, or writers who need a kick in the pants and set a deadline. If you’re one of those writers who thinks you can build a career off of writing one month out of the year, though, you might be screwing yourself over.
- NaNoWriMo is awesome. I think that it can be very encouraging and helpful for any writer, aspiring or published. It can be good to have deadlines and is good practice because that first book may take 4 years or so but the publishers tend to have harsher deadlines if they are going to make offers on future novels.
- Yes yes yes! No, you won’t get a good draft out of NaNo. You might not even get an average one. But that doesn’t mean you won’t gain anything. NaNoWriMo is an occasion to make writing fun again (not that I think it’s a pain the rest of the year). It’s a perfect time to play around with your story, to try new plot arcs, to discover your characters and explore your setting. Aspiring writers can use NaNo to develop their ideas further and to spot their plotholes. I certainly did, and I believe my WIP matured from it.
- Yes! It’s a wonderful chance to do something crazy and wonderful with thousands of others cheering you on and sharing in your stress, joy, and frustration.
- Yes, as long as they don’t think their novel is finished at the end of November! I think NaNoWriMo gives people the chance to write a novel when they thought they would never have the time. The encouragement of other participants and the sense of competition makes them make the time to do it. It think it’s great for new writers, but those who have written novels before, even if they’re not published (like me ) seem to do it more for fun or a break from their WIP.