***This post was originally released November 25, 2011. Given NaNo’s rapid approach, I thought I’d share this once again***
NaNoWriMo is almost over. As of today, the people who crossed the 50 000 word finish line can be declared winners, and the rest of the Wrimo’s start sprinting for the end (or lightly jog, maybe power walk, depending on how close you are).
NaNo did hold some challenges for me when it came to the manuscript. I manage to write roughly a thousand words an hour, so getting it done wasn’t the issue. I’m one of those people who only has a husband to distract me (I live two provinces away from all my family and a good chunk of my friends.) I went out almost every night, Monday through Friday, with Caro where we occupied a café table or two for three hours and devoted our time (or most of it) to our NaNoing.
The challenge I had from doing NaNo was trying to keep up with EVERYTHING ELSE that I had to do. So, as an explanation, I give you the 5 things I learned from doing NaNoWriMo:
1) I’m a multitasker, but only when it comes to none writing things: I had this big, amazing dream that I was going to write two novels during the month of November simultaneously. I was going to spend a few hours during the day delving into one story, pounding away on my keyboard with enthusiasm, stop, eat, hop the subway, and switch trains of thought from one plot to another on my forty minute venture. Then, I would spend three hours, making sure I get my *at least* 3000 words in a night (which was my goal). It didn’t happen. What did happen was I would sit in front of my computer, stared at a blank word processing screen, maybe draw out the plot on my whiteboard, maybe write something, and then realize I need to start getting ready to head out. My poor Plot 1 (aka, none NaNo book) sat sadly untouched until I crossed the 50 000 word line for NaNo.
2) I have no sense of regularity during the challenge: I don’t mean bathroom regularity, I mean scheduling. The five days a week venturing out threw off my groove for my at home writing schedule, and I’m still trying to figure out how to regulate my time while factoring in the travelling and normal, daily tasks that need to be done for when Caro and I go back to two days a week. I also started losing track of what day of the week it was. I’d know it was the weekend when I woke up, because those are the only days in which my husband is still around after 7:30am. My blog suffered, not like it was really flying anyway, but I was starting to get a rhythm for posting regularly before November. I screwed that up. Let’s try this again in December.
3) I can’t get so excited about a plot in October that I jump the gun and start writing: Don’t have a cow, I had a back-up plot. I had two ideas for my NaNo novel, and I was pretty certain I knew which one I wanted to do. Then, about mid-October, I felt like I was going to burst with the crazy awesomeness that was my idea and I started writing. “No worries,” I thought, “I’ll just use idea number two for the Wrimo challenge.” But the mid-point of week two I was kicking myself, because I had been soaring through Plot 1, and had made it about half of the way through that plot line with a nice, fat word count to go with it. Plot 2 (aka Nano Book) struggled and starved. I had a hard time beefing it up, with (as it seemed) not a enough plot to serve all fifty thousand words without a bunch of additives.
4) Listening to two separate WIP playlists can cause issues with your characters: Plot 1 is about the journey two of my previously used characters had where they met, fell in love, and crashed and burned. Plot 2 was where two more of my previously used characters planned their wedding and dealt with the most evil woman in the world: the groom’s mother. The two playlists don’t exactly contain complimenting songs, and because I tend to listen to my playlists when I go for walks, I had a hard time focusing on one book. And if I managed to concentrate on one story line, the songs would tend to make the story go in a direction it simply couldn’t. That, or I would be skipping a lot. So, it ties back in with the first thing I learned: don’t write two stories at once. But should I try it again, I’m going to be writing to books with similar plot, or at least characters with similar music tastes.
5) Don’t count on writing a short book, because short can be a hindrance: My thought with Plot 2 was that, ‘on the bright side’, it was intended to just be a Novella, or a really small novel at best. Just that nice little extra thing that would finish up a somewhat on-going tale. But that was a mindset I shouldn’t have had going in, because I couldn’t think of anything outside of what I already envisioned for the plot, and it was everything I could to make the characters think a little more on things to get the word count. Even if it was on things like cake flavors or invitations, I’m not a fan of weddings, wedding planning, or anything related, and neither was my character. It was torture for both of us.
In the end, NaNo helped me grow as a writer. Getting the word count: piece of pie. Remembering to do everything else required of me, balancing my work load, and basically functioning in all other aspects of writing life: like making my husband’s birthday cake from scratch.