Well so much for my plans to blog every day during NaNoWriMo … or even to write an “end of NaNoWriMo 2015” post. I wrote each day during November, and I “won” NaNoWriMo by reaching 50,000 words total on November 30. Now that the white-hot streak of writing every day is long over, I find that many of the details have slipped into the ether, so the following is just the highlights. If you’d like to know more about the background of the project, I wrote a blog post at my friend, Natalia Sylvester’s site … uh, nearly five years ago (this novel has been on my mind since 2000).
What Worked Well
I wrote fiction every day for the first time in … a long time. The last time I was this productive was 1998. Yup. I surprised myself with what I was writing, in a good way. I wrote every day while looking after my young child, being a good partner for my wife, being a helpful son, and running a business (not always in that order). I even wrote a version of the ending to the novel. I wrote in the early morning, I wrote in the afternoon, I wrote in the evening. It didn’t matter. It was awesome.
What Was Mildly Difficult
I often found myself stuck and unable to think of how to fill the 1,667 word quota. This, to me, is the central strength and problem of National Novel Writing Month. The carrot at the end of the stick is the 50,000 word goal, and so you push yourself to write those words every day. It was a good carrot for me. But I also know that huge swaths of this book will be deleted because I couldn’t untangle a certain plotline, or I needed more research or thinking time to effectively work through a problem, or to write scenes the way they existed in my head. So writing just to write didn’t solve those problems or help me out of a block, and I think the pace of producing 50,000 words in a 30 day period would drive me crazy if I did it more than one month in a row.
What the … How Did I Do … That?
My important responsibilities didn’t stop during the month of November. I slowed down the pace of my social media posting, but I took on intensive copywriting and editing projects. I was hired for a one-day turnaround editing project that ran on an hourly rate. I clocked in and out all day (I don’t actually have a punchcard clock. But it would be cool if I did!) I finished that day’s writing around 11 p.m. that particular night. The month started with a leg cramp/strain so bad that I had to write with my leg propped up with a heating pad around it. The month ended with a bad cold that lingered for two weeks. I also spent an entire day at the hospital while my Mom underwent a planned procedure. I already gave myself a pass for that day, writing 23 or so words.
I proved that I can work a “day job” and not sacrifice family time while creating a work of fiction. I proved that a daily word count is a good incentive for me. I spent much of the month wondering at the “plenty point” for a daily word output. 300 words would be easy to achieve … and frustrating. I’d feel like I hadn’t accomplished anything. 1,600 words was definitely too many words to have over my head each day. Each day, when I hit the 1,200 word threshold, I felt good. That seems like a good incentive. I also feel that if I produced several days of 1,200 quality words (which can be hard to judge sometimes), I can take a break! So, let’s say at least five days a week.
Which leads me to my conclusion … I’ve been working on this project for a long time. I’ve tried every possible method to work on it, and I abandoned it more than once. NaNoWriMo was the only time I worked on it every day, sometimes because I had other responsibilities.
My pledge for 2016 is to write 1,200 words five days a week.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Days 4 through 30: Success!