Hi everyone! Sorry for the radio silence, but over Thanksgiving I hurt my right shoulder and lost all movement in my arm for a week. Talk about a nightmare for a writer! Since it’s no longer agony to type, I thought I’d bring everyone up to speed on how I fared during this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge.
I made it to 35,000 words, 15,000 away from the goal number. But I’m not upset or disappointed for 2 reasons:
- I wrote every single day. Rear end in chair, pen in hands, keyboard clacking away. Some days, there were lots of words. Other days, there were very (very!) few words. But there were words.
- I came to the realization that as far as I’m concerned, a single month is not enough time for me to write a good, real, deep story. The 35,000 words I got down last month aren’t a cohesive novel. It’s perhaps the bones of one–but it was really me getting to know my main character. There’s a lot of internal dialogue. Since I started with a relatively new idea and only did minimal outlining, I’m not really surprised.
I really like to the idea of National Novel Writing Month. I think it helps a lot of people (like me!) sit down and focus. But when I consider some of my favorite contemporary authors–like Chris Bohjalian, Jodi Picoult, and Kate Morton–and the fact that it takes them years to research and write a book, I don’t feel so bad about my long process of “getting to know” my characters (not that what I managed to churn out last month is comparable to any of them, but you know what I mean).
I guess I should probably just admit to myself that the fast-paced, deadline-driven atmosphere of NaNoWriMo doesn’t really cater to my life situation or my personality…but I’ll probably try again next year anyway!
Those are my results–how did you do?!?
National Novel Writing Month, kindly spat out in every day conversation as NaNoWriMo, starts in a month. This will be my fourth attempt.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, here’s the short version: every November, writers all over the world try to write a novel (50,000 words–although they accept anything over 10,000 words) in 30 days. That is about 1,667 words a day.
You can outline before November, but aren’t supposed to start writing until the month begins. Outside of personal satisfaction of being able to say, “hey, I wrote a novel in a month!” there are some online publishers who work with NaNoWriMo, so there is a publication possibility.
Like I said before, this will be my fourth attempt. I’ve never even made it halfway through the month without falling so far behind that there is no chance I catch up. But I’m going to try again, despite the million other things I have going on: homeschooling, editing The Goldens, shopping around another fiction piece, and that little thing called motherhood. Why even bother, you ask? Because I’ve been working really hard at time management (staying off Facebook, cough cough) and I think giving myself those daily word count goals will help.
Here are my time management goals that I’ll be working on this month so that come November, I’ll be ready:
- I’m going to take the advice from this FastCompany article by Lauren Vanderkam and go on a time hunt: Faulkner [the Executive Director of NaNoWriMo] advises people to “go on a time hunt.” For a week, write down every single thing you do. “Get a really good idea of how you spend your time. Most people really don’t know,” he says. You putter around with the mail pile for 15 minutes while dinner is cooking. You lose 30 minutes following links your friends post on Facebook. There are apparently quite a few time tracking apps available–I’m going to do my homework on them and I’ll report back when I’ve tried a couple out. My guess on my biggest time-sucks? Second guessing my own decisions and social media. I really need to work on making a choice and then tucking it away on the book shelf of my mind, instead of revisiting it and making little tweaks that don’t really change anything. As for social media, I really just need to be careful not to get sucked into Facebook drama (I rarely participate, but I find the snarky comments addicting) and not to lose myself in scrolling through Instagram every time I post something. I think social media is important–for my blog, for interacting with readers and finding new awesome blogs, and for keeping up with family–so I’m not cutting it out. I’m thinking of instituting mental “office hours” where I give myself a block of time to browse and comment.
- Establishing “This is When Mommy Writes” time with my son. For me to have any negligible block of time during the day to write, I’m going to need his cooperation.
- Outlining before November 1st. I’m terrible at outlining, but if I want to write a whole novel in a month, it’s going to be necessary.
- I’m going to attempt to meal plan for the entire month. If I’m lucky, I do it week by week. Most of the time it happens in 3 day chunks. I feel like I spend a HUGE amount of time looking for recipes and making food during the week. Nothing to do with writing, but having a plan to feed my family will free up a lot of time.
Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Do you prep or just jump right in?