This year was going to be different from last year. That’s what I said. Last year was my first NaNoWriMo and I was so psyched for it. I was excited and inspired and determined to get it done. I knew my story, had an outline, I was ready to go… And then I didn’t. For the first three days nothing happened and by day nine I only had half of the words I was supposed to. By day 21 I was still incredibly behind, but somehow I made it work. I hit my goal of 50,000 words. I did it. But afterwards I wasn’t all that thrilled with what I wrote.
This year I thought I had it all figured out. I was determined to write every day, because last year I wouldn’t write anything for three days and then have a sprint day, and then take another few days off. That pattern was awful and by the end of each sprint day I would feel burned out, which was why I didn’t write anything the days immediately following it. But this year – no. I mean 1,667 words every day isn’t a big deal assuming you write every day – right? Um, wrong!
And that leads me into my second resolution: I wanted to write quality prose, and not just focus on making the word count. I really wasn’t happy with a good chunk of what I wrote last year. I’m a wordy writer, and I have grown enough to notice and dial it back as I write a first draft. But with my NaNoWriMo novel, I welcomed the wordiness. Hell, I encouraged it. Which meant there was a lot of fictive fat to cut away. I probably only had 30,000 to 40,000 words I would want to keep. But I wrote a little over 50,000 words. So in a way I made my goal last year, but in a more important way I didn’t.
This year I reflected on last year and what I needed to do differently. I’m working on a different novel than the one I worked on last year; one I haven’t even started yet. I’ve already started researching for it, and done character outlines etc. but that is because the big picture and the characters are so clear to me… but the plot, the actions, the chronology of scenes – the scenes themselves. Not so much. And therein lies a new, more difficult problem…
I intended to take care of all that stuff in the last few days of October. But then life happened. The day before I was going to get started I had a data emergency/crisis, including materials for this novel. It was ultimately recovered but not until two days later. There was all that last time, but it meant I still had two days to do what I needed to do. And then I had a health hiccup that landed me in the ER involuntarily because it’s me. This may come as a surprise, but I didn’t get any work done there either.
Because of a last minute road trip I didn’t get to write anything the first day of November. I was in a car for nine hours, so I felt I had a slightly valid excuse. But the next day my excuses were less valid. And the third day, even less valid. I still hadn’t written a single word, and the next day (day 4) I had another valid excuse – it was my husband’s birthday! So I didn’t do anything that day either.
Day 5 was the first day I wrote anything. And I did all right. Despite not having any idea where my novel was going or even what happens in it, I made magic. The next two days I did the same, and it was quality writing, and just over 3000 words per day. I was nearly caught up, until a family day threw my process into a tizzy and I only wrote 106 words. The next day I only wrote 1226 words. And that would bring us to yesterday, when I churned out 2851 words while today I’d written 1721 words (so far). I’m doing better at the “writing every day” goal and most days that I write, I’m even completing a steady daily word count. And while I’m behind, I’m not that far behind, which is promising. But I’ve also fallen into the trappings my second goal warned me about. Quality over quantity.
I feel like the wordy writer in me has never been worse. Just like last year, while I’m working I encourage it and sometimes find myself looking at something I wrote and seeking out ways to expand on it or just shove a few words in. And I hate that… so much. But now I also feel like I’m circling a dead end. I’ve written all of my scenes that I knew would be in this book before getting started. I don’t have any left to write. I keep trying to think of some and so now I’m jumping from conversation to conversation in the book. It’s like I’m writing a transcript, rather than writing something meaningful. Heck, even something usable. I keep trying to figure out how I can do what I need to do, without compromising my “write time” in order to make something happen.
But overall, I’m happy with my progress. Now I’m writing every day, and I’m getting there. Only 3000 words behind now, which means by the halfway point (the 15th) I should completely caught up. This is if I can figure out what to write about or what happens in this particular book. Now if I could only make myself stop writing the crap that I know I’ll cut before I do anything else – I’d be set. If I can focus on the quality of my writing, and not just the action of writing something, I think I’ll be in good shape. And if I can maintain my word count, and figure out what’s going on in my novel – even better!
This year might have its bumps and hurdles, but I just keep telling myself how much better I’m doing this year, than last year. And I am! That’s something worth hanging onto. 🙂
The Official Nanowrimo Site – nanowrimo.org