NaNoWriMo: My WIP, why I won, what I learned, and reflection

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With two days left of November, unless I get a sudden burst of energy, I can now openly admit that I utterly failed NaNoWriMo.

Well, that’s not entirely true. In my first week of NaNoWriMo, I wrote a post about my goals and what I wanted to do. Looking back on what I have written thus far (which, admittedly, is not a lot at all), I feel like I made headway in achieving those goals.

I had intended to write weekly updates, but with my semi-hiatus, I didn’t get the opportunity. So, I hope today’s post will be a good, hearty post, enough to satiate anyone’s curiosity!

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What I worked on, more about my WIP!

I decided to write my contemporary romance! I talked about it in my previous NaNoWriMo post, but in a nutshell, it’s about an interracial romance that explores friendship, identity, culture and cultural differences, and family. It’s #ownvoices and based loosely on my personal experiences.

After a lot of brainstorming and concept development, I want this story to be fluffy and sweet. I want it to have positive representation while also being real and honest to the obstacles and bumps along the road. At the moment, I’ve put a lot of attention to the relationship between my two characters, but I hope to add more layers (family, friendships, protagonist’s ambitions) with more time and editing.

So, a mix of what I have written and ideas that I’ve yet to flesh out:

  • A good portion of the book will be set around Chinese New Year; not only is it one of my favourite times of the year, but it’s also a time of family, being together, good food, reconnecting with my heritage, and being thankful.
  • The protagonist, whom I’ve temporarily named 美惠 (Meihui, pronounced like may-hway), will prepare her friend-now-boyfriend for Chinese New Year and meeting her family as the boyfriend – which is a big big deal to Meihui.
  • I want to explore, very briefly (or maybe not?), why Meihui has chosen to keep and use her Chinese name as opposed to adopting an English name.
  • Meihui is really, really close to her family, and I really want to explore this. She takes filial piety (an important Chinese value) really seriously, and their opinions matter a lot to her. She has a sibling, and they’re really close too.
  • I want to subvert eurocentric ideas that strong female characters have to be invulnerable to the opinions of their family, and that ‘rebelling’ against family is regarded as strength and growth.
  • Something common in most Chinese families: ‘I love you’ isn’t told – it’s shown through action and gesture. I want to convey this through Meihui’s family.
  • Identity will be explored! How growing up as a ‘second generation immigrant’ can be the most confusing thing ever, especially in terms of the yearning to belong, fragmented grasp of languages native to one’s parents.
  • There’s a scene where my two characters go yumcha/eat dimsum! Why isn’t this a thing?!
  • Meihui’s love interest will not be toned nor will he have defined biceps that she notices when he hugs her. His personality is soft, awkward but earnest, and he’s a squishy bear.

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My progress and what I’ve learned

I set out to do NaNoWriMo with a few goals:

  1. to be creative, or, engage in the act and process of being creative
  2. to overcome paralysis when writing and just write

Though I haven’t written all that much, when writing, I noticed that I wrote and wrote and wrote. I didn’t dwell, like I usually did, and if I was unsure about a certain place, I marked it so I would return to it later. Perhaps I haven’t completely overcome that paralysis – do you ever fully overcome it? – but I feel like I’ve made progress in doing so. I’ve become less afraid of writing something imperfect and learning to trust in the process — that I will return to it later and trusting future-me to do it.

And though I haven’t written – I feel like I have been creative! If I’m not writing, I’m thinking, imagining, and brainstorming. This is such a big change for me. For the last few years, I hardly used my imagination, so knowing that my mind could be filled with so much colour is such a great, great feeling.

I underestimated how difficult it would be to write with a full-time job. I thought I could manage at least 500 words a day, but I didn’t account for the fact that I’m a mood-writer. My word count is sitting on 2600 words, with about 4000 words of brainstorming. And even though I was nowhere near winning, NaNoWriMo has inspired me to start something, and to tell a story I desperately want to tell.

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Where now from here?

There’s a vulnerability when you’re writing #ownvoices – it’s one thing to write something that is born from your imagination, but another thing to write something that is inherently personal and emotional. It’s validating, because I’m finally writing and seeing the sort of book I’ve always wanted to read, but it’s a little scary too. But, I’m going to hold onto the hope that what I write can be meaningful to someone; having this in mind will drive me forward.

NaNoWriMo has inspired me, so I’m going to keep writing! I’m going to tell my story, even if it’s a slow, slow process, I’ll work towards it. Maybe I didn’t win NaNoWriMo, but I’ve won in other, smaller ways. For now, that’s enough for me.

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I don’t know if I will blog or advertise my writing in the future. But, never say never! Who knows where writing and my story will take me? For now, I’m happy with it being my personal project, but hey, who knows!

So friends;

  • How did you do this NaNoWriMo?
  • Did you have any goals? What did you achieve?
  • Are you going to participate in NaNoWriMo next year? Has this year of NaNoWriMo inspired you to write next year?
  • Did you learn anything this NaNoWriMo? If so, what did you learn? ❤
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28 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: My WIP, why I won, what I learned, and reflection

  1. This story of yours sounds like such a sweet, meaningful and inspiring work and I can’t wait to read it if and whenever you do decide to share it. Every story is Worth telling especially the ones that haven’t been told before and I’ve never really read anything like this.
    So YEP! If you feel like youve won then you did, the word count doesn’t matter. GREAT JOB <3

    • Hi Fadwa!

      Oooh, thank you my dearest! Those three things are what I hope my story will be, so I shall aim high and I’ll get there!
      I don’t think I’ve read anything like it either… hence why I feel like I need to tell it! ❤

      Ahhh thank you Fadwa! Thank you for being so supportive and lovely. ❤

  2. I like the sound of your story so far, and I hope you’ll keep on writing it, and maybe share some more about in the near, or not so near future. I really like how diverse and well…it seems just so cute and with all the themes I love to read about in books, so <3
    Even if you didn't reach the final goal, you wrote, and you still want to write, so this is already a great accomplishment, congratulations <3 <3

    • Hi Marie! ❤

      Thank you so much! I hope so too – it’s a goal of mine, and I want to see it through.
      I hope it’ll be cute! Or at least a fluffy, happy story. I think we need more of those.

      Thank you so much Marie. ❤ Your encouragement means the world to me, and I appreciate it so much!

  3. Yay, I’m really happy for you – NaNoWriMo was what initially helped me to overcome paralysis about perfection, to an extent, too. And I definitely get the vulnerability aspect with writing ownvoices, especially contemporary – it’s something I’ve been slowly adjusting to as well in planning my new WIP. Good luck with the rest of your work on this novel because I would 100% read it.

    • Hi Wendy!

      Thank you so, so much. ❤ Ah, I’m glad that you had such a positive experience with NaNoWriMo! I hope that I will share and gain something similar.

      Thank you for understanding. ;_; I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.
      Oooh!! What’s your WIP? How is it going? If you don’t mind sharing, what is it about? ❤

      And thank you soo much! I appreciate (and need!) the encouragement. You are wonderful.

  4. I’m so happy for you CW <3!! I agree that the best part of the NaNo experience is that you learn so much about your own creative process + rekindles your creative spark. I'm glad Meihui's love interest is a squishy bear!!

    I struggle with imperfection too but I agree, it does become easier when you learn to trust your own process. A thought I need to keep in my mind when ever I get into the self-doubt mode.

    • Thank you so much Glaiza!! ❤

      Yess! I’m so glad you understand.
      Hehhe yes!! I’m starting to get super attached to the name Meihui but it’s a common Chinese name (nothing wrong with that!) but I want something that is a little different to mirror the experiences with my own name.

      We’re on the same boat! I find writing imperfect things and then moving on from it really, really difficult. ;_; But, SLOWLY! I’m getting there. I hope this new skill carries over to when I start university.

  5. I’ve done NaNoWriMo about a dozen times now, and have only won once. But I don’t go in with the idea of winning, although I’m not upset if I do. :D This time around I did an adult secondary world fantasy novel that I’d been world-building off and on for a couple of months. I got to about 12k words before I officially called it quits – after the constant earthquakes starting from the 14th (they’ve lessened up now where I live, but we still get at least one tremble a day) there was no way I was going to catch up what I was behind.

    But that was okay! I’d written enough to really see what world-building and outlining etc. that I needed to do. As I wrote I started to really find places I needed to do world-building for: it was no longer this nebulous concept, but a real and breathing time and place and that immediately makes a huge difference in finding the details. I’m now more excited than ever to work on the novel, because now I know more about what I need to do, and more character and plot information has been revealed as well.

    • Hi Catherine!

      Thanks for sharing your experience with NaNo with me! I feel a little better(?) about not winning NaNo, and that I partook in it as a sort of creative exercise.

      Oh no! The earthquakes must have been super rough. I’m up North so I’ve been very lucky, but I felt the first one from all the way up here! I thought I was dizzy and needed to sleep. How are you holding up? How are things down south?

      I wish you all the best with your writing! It sounds like your project is exciting to you – I can definitely see how passionate you are about your writing. :)

      What is your story about, if you don’t mind me asking?

  6. I would love to read your story! Everything you’ve laid out in this post sounds so interesting (my favorite part is the squishy bear boyfriend!). All I know about Chinese culture is what the media tells me (so nothing good) and if you ever need a prereader or something of the sort, I’d love to help! This sounds like a beautiful story and I hope you know I’ll be silently encouraging your progress every step of the way! ❤️❤️

    • Aw, thank you so much Sara! 😭 I hope my story will work out and others can read it one day. ❤

      Oh gosh, thank you so much for the offer! I will remember this, and I really appreciate the fact that you’d be interested to read what I write!
      I don’t blame you – there are so many misunderstandings about Chinese culture, so if I can elucidate the small parts of my lived experience, I’d be okay with that.

      Eeeep thank you so much for your support. You are truly an amazing human being. ❤

      • I hope so too! :)
        You are an even amazinger human being! Yes I created a new word for you haha I hope that you can spread awareness on your culture with your amazing literature and your blog and I’m super excited to see how you grow from here :D

  7. All the best !! This sounds so wonderful!! I can relate to quite a few things like filial piety and how words like “I love you” isnt told as such .. I guess this is something pretty intrinsic to Indian culture too..

    • Hi Ishita!

      Thank you so so much! Ahh I’m glad someone else can relate! That makes me feel more motivated to write this.
      I bet we share similarities! I always love learning about the small differences and similarities cultures share, esp among Asian cultures. It’s kind of a beautiful thing. ❤

  8. The premise of this story sounds amazing and cute, and like it will make me feel al warm and fuzzy & if it’s ever published I’ll definitely read it 💞 I’m not a writer, so I can’t imagine how hard it must be to write something, yet alone something that’s own voice. But I think it’s super important to have that in the community and I wish you all the best with your future writings 🌸

    • Hi Michelle!

      Ahh thank you so much for your support! I hope it’ll be cute and warm. ❤ And I shall definitely try to make it so!

      Oh goodness, thank you for the kind words and for understanding! It is hard, but it’s exciting more. Thank you, and all the best to you too, for any and all your endeavours! ❤

  9. Pingback: November Recap: Foreword of the new chapter in my life, Pokemon, and celebrating diversity | Read, Think, Ponder

  10. I WOULD SO READ THAT BOOK!!! I hope you continue working on it, even without NaNoWriMo to push you. I didn’t really manage all that much this month either … maybe 7500 words? Arcadia is important to me, but sometimes the writing isn’t easy, even when I try to push through it. Still, it’s 7500 words more than I had before. I hope you continue to share some of your writing process as you work on your story. I, for one, would be VERY interested in hearing/reading more about it!

    • AHH thank you so much, Kat! ;_; That means so so much to me, truly!
      7500 is still better than 0! I completely understand how writing isn’t easy. There are days where I get a sudden BURST OF ENERGY and I write and write and write with ease, and some days where it takes such a big effort.

      I’m really considering sharing bits of my story, but – we’ll see! But thank you SO much for your support, Kat. I really appreciate it. ❤

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