A Brief NANOWRIMO Debriefing

(Wait, what?)

Well, I can tell you right off the bat that my attempt at this years National Novel Writing Month has been vastly more successful than the crash-and-burn, crawl-yourself-across-the-embers attempt of 2010. Main improvement? I had a story to write, a real one, not one I’d made up on the fly that seemed like a good idea at the time but had no backbone to it. The story I picked for this year’s NANO was one I have over-cooked in my head for nearly a decade. It was more than well-aged, it was getting gamey. That helped: I knew the characters with ease, knew their goals and ambitions pretty well, knew how they interacted with each other, and with a revamped plot line, it actually came somewhat together.

I hit the 50,000 word count. Easily. Hit it on the 20th of November, actually, and kept on with my goal of 3k a weekday since. So that was nice. Bad news? There’s still a whole hell of a lot left to go. This is my first official attempt at an original novel, so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s a little long in the tooth. I can already sense some places where I’ll be going back to hack out sections, but for now, I’m pressing on. 3k/weekday until it’s finished–really, truly, totally a finished draft.

Number one lesson learned during this year’s NANO? I can actually write pretty fast. 3k is not an unreasonable daily word count goal for me. It’s not always easy, but once I get my shoulders into the day’s work, it can move along at a pretty brisk pace. This was a surprise to me. I’d always assumed, from my short story work, that I was a pretty slow writer. Apparently, I can really crank out the words when I need to, without much crying of blood, either! A rather pleasant surprise.

Granted, I don’t know if what I’ve got yet will be any good, or if it will be anything I can work with in the future, but it’s convinced me that perhaps it’s not so crazy to conceive of writing a novel a year (maybe more?<–WHA-?! Heresy!). Maybe I can even write another one before THE BIG DAY arrives in June. That’d be three novel rough drafts finished in one year.

And that might just be a miracle. 


NANO Reminder To Self-of-the-Future

This is really just a reminder for myself regarding motivation and productivity. Whiny Future-Version-of-Myself, listen up!

I did not want to write today. No, that’s an understatement. I really, really, really, really didn’t want to write anything today. I wanted to play Minecraft, or doodle, or eat Second Breakfast, or laze around staring at the ceiling, or start the second Forsythe book, or find new music, or watch TV, or keep walking on the treadmill for another couple miles–because that’s productive and healthy, so that’s a good reason not to write, right?

I didn’t know what I would write today. I didn’t have a clue. My brain was empty–EMPTY AND HOLLOW AS A DRUM!–and I didn’t *really* want to figure out how to fill it. It’s been a long week. I’ve hit my 3k word-count requirement every day so far–that’s good, right? I mean, I don’t *technically* need to hit more than 1,666 per day to finish NANO on time, so it’s really just for *me* that I want to do more so I can take weekends off guilt-free (Weekends: the boon of long-distance med-school relationships). Even last weekend, I wrote a little on Saturday and Sunday in the morning, so that means I’ve actually gotten *further* than I need to, so if I just relax for a day, it’s not like it’s going to slam my word count or anything. I could totally get away with it, and no one would even blame me. I’ve already got 14,000 words done, for crying out loud! I’m ahead of the game! I can TOTALLY not write today. Every sane thing in the universe is saying I don’t have to write today. I’m hungry. I need a shower. I had a long, tough day yesterday, and need a mental break. <–All made perfect sense. Good, solid logic. Totally reasonable.

I ignored it. I spent my time on the treadmill thinking and thinking and thinking about what I would write today. It wasn’t easy, it didn’t resolve itself fast, but I *did* get something I could write about that would actually advance the story in an interesting way and manage to entertain me in the process, which I’m beginning to realize is vital to getting words on the page. Distractible Maggie has to laugh and clap her hands at least once–then you’re on to something.

I ignored the urge to delay, to sit back and not tackle this. I *did* take a shower (seriously, I needed it after the treadmill), and I *did* make some scrambled eggs and took a handful of almonds for Second Breakfast (Baby apparently says a big bowl of fruit and cottage cheese with tea is *not* enough breakfast anymore). BUT, and here’s the part I need to remember: I sat my butt down and wrote at 10AM.

I wrote when I didn’t feel like it at all. I wrote, and wrote, and dear-lord-where-did-this-awesome-come-from wrote for two and a half hours straight, slammed out almost 5k, and ACTUALLY LIKED IT. That’s right, Future-Me. You liked it. You were in the zone, you let your fingers fly, your world opened up on the page, and DAMN it was fine, and you relished every minute of it so much that when you hit your 3k, you surpassed it because YOU DIDN’T WANT TO STOP, and when you hit 3700, you thought–Just 300 more and I’ll finish the chapter AND get 4k–and you know what? You went right on by 4k and only wrapped up the chapter at 4780. 1780 words more than your goal. In only a half-hour more time than it took yesterday to get 3k.

You. Killed. It. <–Remember that Future-Me. When you don’t feel like writing, when–in fact–you’d rather be doing just about ANYTHING ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE. On a day when you felt like you’d be fighting for even 500 words, you got 4780. And it was EASY. And you ENJOYED IT.

So stick that in your pipe, Ms. Inner Lazy-Pants, and smoke it.