finishing my first draft || nanowrimo ’21 recap || life & literature ep. 9

On November 22nd 2021, at 3.32 p.m., I finished the first draft of my novel.

It still feels surreal to finally finish it; I wanted to scream from the rooftops, but I had to settle for yelling into a pillow, running around the house while my sister stared at me oddly. This is the book I’ve been working on since early April this year, and I got to about 134k in November. (I have created a monster.)

But, regardless of its many, many flaws and imperfections, I love it with all my heart, and I’m SO pumped to have finished it!

As the year comes to a close, I’m planning to put it aside for a week or two and focus on other projects before I get back to editing and writing a little more. I wrote a whole chunk of the book this NaNoWriMo – let’s get into all the details!

NaNoWriMo, or National November Writing Month, is an initiative started up by a group of writers to get people to write 50,000 words in November every year. It’s my first time doing it, and I was so excited to write – I was very nearly certain I wouldn’t finish it… but I did.

Of course, I was up till midnight sometimes and I was exhausted with the entire process of writing by the end of the month, but it is wild to think how much progress I’ve made: from where I’ve started, to where I am now. And I think that’s the point of NaNo; to progress and not to write a perfect story.

If I’ve learnt anything from this NaNo, it’s that I’m incredibly unpredictable.

So, since I’ve said practically nothing about the book yet, here are a few fun facts about it:

// the original inspiration for it came from a Tangled: the series x Percy Jackson fanfiction I read months ago (it’s changed so much from that idea)

// the title is still under construction (yes, I’m using an alias – The Fallen Kingdom – and no, picking out titles aren’t easy!)

// my favourite character only appears in one chapter – I think I relate to her problems the most

// a huge part of the inspiration also came from the Pinterest board for my project –

// right now, I’m classifying it as a fantasy romance and one of the main reasons I love it so much is because of all the cultural representation (as you can see on the board)

// my favourite part of the novel is that the characters don’t develop alone – they take bits and pieces of values from the other characters and grow together

// around 26% of this was written in November only and the story isn’t done yet – it’ll need a sequel, but that’s another tale

Have you come across any problem areas?

Of course, you can’t go through writing an entire novel – regardless of the genre – and not come across any problems. My main problem is not having a clear idea in mind as to what happens next. I know how the book starts, I know what happens in the middle, I know what happens in the end… but somehow, I have an occasional problem with how to string it all together.

a character aesthetic – pictures from Pinterest

Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far!

Well, being a writer means you’re going to have a really, really, really awkward browsing history – from wanting to know whether a person can die when a bullet pierces their leg or exactly how long a lion can go without food. (The former to figure out if that’s a plausible way to kill someone and the latter for the same reason.) (I’m normal, I promise.)

And then it’s having writer friends with whom you can share snippets and exchange feedback every day – be it ways to torture your protagonists or adorable tension building up between two “enemies.” I think that’s one of my favourite parts of writing: having people you can share it with.

What music do you listen to (if any) and where do you source your inspiration?

This is one playlist that has songs related to my story – plot points, characters, or sometimes even just emotions – but I listen to a lot of Taylor Swift (surprise, surprise,) Gracie Abrams and Phoebe Bridgers.

– Share a snippet from your book: one of your favourites!

“At that moment she was confused, excited and fearful for what would come—for she would never know and there was nothing she could do to change it. But all she could do was face its consequences when it came like the dewdrops faced the first ray of sunshine every morning, knowing that it wouldn’t be there to see the next.

In a matter of days everything she ever knew had changed, but, she reminded herself that if nothing changed, there would never be rainbows.”

What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

another aesthetic – pictures from Pinterest

Honestly, it’s been getting inside the heads of the characters. For a while, they’d all shut me off – snarl at me anytime I tried to get too close, and that’s when I realised I’d been going about it wrong. I should be thinking of my characters not as figments of my imagination, but as people.

And that’s when the whole story sort of just came together. Each plot twist and each scene became important to the characters. What mattered most was not the external conflict, but the internal conflict – what journey the characters go through from within.


As of right now, I’m not sure what the next step is, but I know that there is a lot of editing pending. But I’m really excited and will get the story out to beta readers really soon!

If you did NaNo this year, how did it go? Or if not, have you ever thought about writing a novel? What excites you most about writing… or the thought of it? Tell me in the comments! Until then xx

55 thoughts on “finishing my first draft || nanowrimo ’21 recap || life & literature ep. 9

  1. OH MY GOSH, CONGRATULATIONS MAYA!!! I AM IN ABSOLUTE AWE RIGHT NOW AND SO HAPPY FOR YOU!! Finishing an entire novel is such a huge deal, and CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You have no idea how fast I clicked this post upon seeing the notification, I was so excited, and I LOVED READING THIS SO MUCH!! Your story sounds amazing, and I cannot wait to read it someday! And the pinterest board is GORGEOUS 😍😍😍 Good luck with the rest of the journey, and keep me updated on all the progress!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Oh my god, congratulations, that’s amazing!!!
    I did do NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, I managed to get 50k words in and am now 56k words in and still have a bit to go. The idea started from the short story I wrote called New Life on my page but it has now changed so drastically nothing is the same to that short story apart from the characters names and zombies but I am thinking of changing one of their names though because she’s a black woman named Natalya, not sure that works. But I am super excited about your book! Good luck editing and getting it out – if you intend to get it out and it’s not just a book you’re writing for you – because I really want to read it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • oh WOW! 56k is so impressive! yeah, the story changes so much as you progress and oooh zombies sound so interesting! it’s lovely that you found potential in a short story, too! i hope to maybe get it out someday but probably when i’m older! have a great december ♥♥

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Congratulations, Maya! This is such an achievement! 🥳🥳🥳 And your story sounds epic, too! Good luck editing and getting it completely into shape!
    Also, I totally relate to your creepy search history – for my writing projects, I’ve googled stuff on how to build explosives, which veins you have to inject drugs into so that they reach the heart in the most efficient way possible, and a lot more stuff that probably has several goverment agencies watching me now… 👀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. OMG, I LOVE this post! First of all, congrats on finishing your draft! It’s such a great accomplishment and you even did it a little bit early, that’s just wonderful. Secondly, I really enjoyed your insight here, the aesthetics, the playlist, everything. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. CONGRATULATIONS Maya!!!!! Finishing the first draft of your novel is an incredible feat!!!! I love the playlist you’ve made, it gives me “epic, picturesque, magical fantasy” vibes✨!!! You just have a knack for making stunning Pinterest boards! ❤
    Wishing you the very best 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Awww! Congratulations!!! Finishing a first draft is the best feeling ever!!! Lol, I have a list of strange things I’ve googled for the sake of a book. Good luck with editing! Also, I hate naming books. I’m finishing draft three of my sci-fi book and getting ready to go into draft four and I still have a “working title”/placeholder. I’m so happy for you! I can’t wait to see where you take your new book!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh wow, Maya! I’m so very glad for you!! Great job! The Pinterest board looks spectacular and I love the vibes in your playlist! Wowie, 137K words is massive! Have fun editing the book! 😉
    If you need any beta readers, you know where to find me! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. WOAH. CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FIRST DRAFT. YOU DESERVE ICE CREAM. I got to applaud your dedication. *applauds*
    The Pinterest board is lovely! ✨
    Ooh, I got some tips in this post of yours! I usually stick to poems and short prose. I have tried writing a novel or two, but I ended up ditching them… (guilty of procrastinating and dead motivation…)
    (´。_。`)
    But your post did give me some motivation, so you never know what’ll happen in the future!
    Congratulations, Maya! 🏆

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aww, thank you so much, Blue! I’m so glad it helped! Wow, poetry & prose sounds so interesting! I had the same issue for the LONGEST time but it really had to do with me finding a story I truly liked writing! Good luck & thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, congratulations Maya!! It’s no small feat to finish writing an entire book!
    I relate with the writer-search history wayy too much 😂
    I lovee the pinterest aesthetic btw!

    Liked by 1 person

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