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Woo Hoo! I won! I did it! Yaaaaay! *cue blast from confetti gun and rain of glitter from the sky*

Okay, maybe I wasn’t that excited when I validated my word count last week and discovered I had surpassed the goal for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short (because it’s so much more fun to say). I was definitely relieved, though. The last four days of the month could have been spent padding that word count, but after six stories–a couple of which are probably closer to novella length–I was done. 52,560 words and six new stories out of my head and on my computer. Yep. I’ll claim that as a victory for the year.

Winning at NaNoWriMo isn’t exactly like winning a race or Jeopardy or even a hot dog eating contest. There isn’t a massive audience cheering you on or huge prizes waiting for you at the end, although winners do receive nifty digital badges to display all over social media as well as discounts on writer tools and software. And I don’t know a whole lot of people who celebrate hard after the month is finished. My writing group has been known to have T.G.I.O. (“Thank God It’s Over”) parties in the past, but those usually involved hanging out at our local Barnes & Noble sipping coffee in the cafe and discussing what we were going to share at future meetings. Still, it was a great way to wind down from a month of hard work.

And I do mean HARD work. Yes, I spent most of the month lounging in our comfy recliner with tea at hand and my laptop nestled upon my knees, but there was definite work involved. It was just invisible to the outside world, all of it occurring inside my mind until I could form it into readable words. There were plots to devise, characters to build up and tear down, settings to design. Plus, because I was writing short stories based in worlds I already created in The Golden Orb, I needed to go back to what I had previously written to check for continuity. Boy, was that tough. It made it even more difficult to remember the NO EDITING AT ALL FOR THE ENTIRE MONTH rule of NaNo. I found myself going back to previous days’ work, changing things here and there to make certain I hadn’t inadvertently opened up a major plot hole in The Golden Orb, a book I do not plan to rewrite. Ever. Yes, November’s work can all be “fixed in post”, as my filmmaker friends like to say, and it will be revised eventually. But knowing my brain, if it’s not already written down, I’ll probably forget it.

So, that was my November. I managed to write while having strep throat, tackling an intimidating sewing project, getting my kids back and forth to school, and single-mommying it for about a week while my husband was away at a conference, and I still hit the goal for the month.

Seriously, dear readers. If I can do it, anyone can do it, and I encourage anyone to try, because it is an amazing creative outlet that just might lead to a publishable novel someday.

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, let me know how you did in the comments below.

Thanks for reading (and writing).

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a stay-at-home-mom and writer living in the rolling hills of southern Indiana. When she’s not caring for her family or obsessing over punctuation, she can be found helping out at her sons' school, catching up on her Goodreads list, playing (and sometimes winning, but mostly losing) board games with her friends, crying over her favorite PBS programs, or sewing yet another costume for the local gaming/pop culture convention, where she’ll probably lose at even more board games.

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