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  • Writer's pictureAzalea Forrest

Forrest's 2020 NaNo Experience

Happy December, everybody!

November is over, and that means NaNoWrimo 2020 has ended.

How did you do? Did you hit 50,000 words? Or your own personal goal?

No matter how you did, know that every word you managed to write, no matter how small it seems, is more words than you had last month! That’s a great accomplishment! And if you couldn't write at all, that's okay too. Life's been hard for everybody this year and rest is more important now than ever.

I did manage to hit 50k, and I've finished my first draft for my project! That project being: A Witch in Isenshire, the direct sequel to Witch in the Lighthouse. I feel very accomplished! But I did struggle a bit, even if the graph may not look it. :p


In my last post, I harped about how important outlines are to your writing experience. Turns out I could have prepared even more, haha. Whoops! I guess I was trusting “future me” a lot more than intended. It’s pretty easy to look at something and think, “That’s definitely enough information. I’ll be able to get all the words I need out of this next month!” Hah. Well, thought processes one month don’t always carry over to the next month.

Still, it wasn’t so bad. There were only a few chapters I really struggled to get through, but I think overall I hit all the points I meant to hit. In the future, I’m going to try and go even more in depth on my outlines, something I’ve struggled to do. We’ll see how it goes next time.

My first three chapters started out strong. I knew overall everything I wanted to cover in those chapters, as they’re very integral as follow ups to the previous book. This is actually my first series, so I’m learning as I’m going!

Most days I would get home after work and sit at my desk and just belt out words for a couple hours. My plan was to write 3k a day, but I definitely did not hit that mark most days. However, because that was what I still tried to aim for, I had a bit of a buffer as the month went on, allowing me to have days where I only wrote a few hundred words to just under 1k, so I never fell behind on the overall 50k goal. On my days off of work, I would try to write first thing in the morning. Partly to “get it out of the way”, but also just because it’s constantly been on my mind, haha.

Chutes n' Ladders

As I got to chapters that I wasn’t as sure about, and found myself delving into areas I didn’t even know I was going to get into...I found myself wanting to critique and edit. Thankfully I’ve been there before, so I was able to just push through and remind myself that I could go back and edit all that later. Generally when I would write chapters like that, I would find that they weren’t nearly as bad as I thought they were at the time. It can be super easy to fall into the trap of heavy editing as you go along, but that really gums up the process, and you wind up writing way less than you’d intended because you’ve gone back and erased so much. A tip I’d recommend is to highlight sections or sentences you’re unsure of and write a note/comment there that you can look back on after your first draft is finished.

Because 2020 has been such a garbage fire of a year for everyone around the world, I definitely was not pushing myself to write much more than 50k like I have in the past. In fact, I may not push myself to do that in the future, either. Using NaNo as a tool to help you develop a habit of writing daily takes a lot of the stress I’d found myself under by trying to force myself to write 3k daily. A smaller daily goal is much less stressful, and if I happen to write more that day, then excellent!


Some things I had on hand that really helped me when I would get stuck in certain spots was:

  • Pinterest

Pinterest was absolutely necessary in helping me visualize some of the themes and appearances of areas that I had only a vague understanding of, as well as inspiration for what I wanted some places and things to look like. Google Images helped too, but Pinterest let me save everything into folders and sub folders that I could easily access whenever I needed, on the go.


Pretty self explanatory: I’d find myself repeating descriptors and this helped me find other words, or a word I couldn’t put my finger on but had an idea of.

  • Lists

Every time I’d make up a character or place on the spot, or had already pre-planned for, I would add it to my list and peruse it when I needed a refresher. Keeping notes is extremely helpful in getting you to move forward rather than keeping you stuck because you might need to go back through your document searching for a name or place you can’t remember. Or maybe I’m just that chaotic and other writers don’t have that problem? Haha.

  • Spotify

I find I can’t focus as deeply if I’m not listening to some instrumental music of some sort. For big projects like this, I usually make playlists specifically for that book, or even for an individual character. I have three playlists for the Witch in the Lighthouse universe, so I mainly listened to that on shuffle and repeat during pretty much every writing session. Really helped me stay in the mood, especially during some of the more serious scenes.

  • New keyboard

Haha, okay, this one might sound a little silly, but I ended up getting a mechanical keyboard after years of using the membrane keyboard that came with my desktop. I've been eyeing one for a while and I've never used a mechanical before, so I didn't know what to expect. I've heard people swear by mechanical though, so I thought I'd give it a shot, and I'm glad I did! I got it around the end of the month, but I found typing to be that much more enjoyable. The key strokes are so smooth in comparison, and it takes much less effort to push down the keys. Sometimes it pays to invest in your own personal comfort. :) It gave me another excuse to sit down and start writing!


All I did during November was focus on NaNo, so I neglected to update the blog, but more posts will be forthcoming in the next few weeks!

I’d love to hear what your experience of NaNo was like this year, whether you were able to get what you wanted done or not. Let me know in the comments, and subscribe for future posts!

Happy Holidays!


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