I didn’t sign up officially. This was self-directed NaNo. I fully expected to fail when I started mostly because my work days are long and I didn’t think I would be able to do 1667 words on those days. Especially not for a full month.
I was wrong.
The final word count is around 50,300. I can’t tell you the exact number because it’s trapped in the guts of the dead computer. My best day was 2630. My worst day was 725 – but that day I was working on another writing project that I didn’t count toward my NaNo. I wrote prose-fiction every single day for 30 days and now it feels like habit.
My NaNo project was expanding a story from another project. I was only partially successful. I wrote about 44,000 words on that and it has a beginning, middle and end although there’s a little gap in there that I haven’t figured out how to fix yet. I’m confident it’s dreadful but I’ll be curious to look at it down the road and see if it’s as bad as I think.
I realized about three days in that I had the wrong POV character and shifting the focus would involve a complete re-thinking which I didn’t have time to do under the circumstances. I may revisit the story with a different approach on the POV. I haven’t decided. My expectation was that it was an exercise. I didn’t expect to write a real novel in a month.
With my leftover words I wrote three first drafts of short stories.
I’ve never been a big fan of word count goals because I don’t work that way. I wrote something about my process in April of this year. Choice quote if you don’t want to go back and read it:
A typical writing cycle for me goes: get new idea, rabid excitement, research and tons of writing, get stuck, dread the writing chair, avoid writing, hate myself for avoiding it, despair, force myself to go back to it, find what interested me in the first place, finish story.
For the record, there’s a bale of stuff in my files that’s still waiting for the part that comes after “despair.”
It’s funny to read this after Clarion West.
At CW I had to finish a short story in a week so I had to get over the despair (and if you read my posts while I was there, despair was still a part of the process) and move on very quickly. So the lesson there was that stories feel like crap in the middle. Get over it and do it any way. Or put another way, I could write more quickly than I thought I could because I didn’t have the luxury of being stuck for very long.
I also learned that I can write when I’m tired, hungry, cranky and not in the mood for writing. I can write late at night. I can write after lunch. With music. After interruptions. I had previously believed I could only write first thing in the morning and if I was interrupted the day was ruined. (Barely exaggerating.)
When I got home from CW, I had a hard time getting back into writing again and figuring out how to balance real life with writing. NaNo was a good exercise to make me find time to write every day and get over the idea that CW offered an ideal writing environment that could never repeated at home. And I learned I can write after work. I can write on the bus. I can write before bed after an evening function that includes adult beverages. I could write in short little bursts between other activities, although still not my ideal.
Now I’m a fan of the word count although 50K in a month is too many. My writing was exceptionally sloppy at that pace. I’d rather write less words that come out on the page more orderly. My goal for December is 20K.
Another thought that I don’t know where to shoehorn in is that having and sticking to word goals (and starting in January, submitting things for publication goals) is that I rarely feel panicked and annoyed that I’m not writing.
What didn’t happen during November? I only read one book. I only looked at the Sunday NYT one time which was the 30th after I reached my goal. I had to schedule my TV time so I wouldn’t get too far behind. (Yeah, I realize TV would be an awesome thing to give up. But I don’t watch that much and I don’t want to give it up.) I exercised about 15 minutes a week. I owe a zillion emails. I only did about a third of my normal autumn garden activities. I’m not beating myself up too much on this because we had a super busy month with social activities. I feel I’m on the verge of finding a way to balance it all. But I do wish I read more books.
I feel like I have lots more to say on this but also like I’ve gone on long enough. It’s very funny to look back on how much things have changed in a year.