Well, it’s November, which means in addition to traveling, feasting and the mad scramble to get all Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving, I’m also tackling NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) again.
For those who aren’t away, NaNoWriMo is a project to write a novel (50,000 words) in a single month. That’s about 1,667 words (or 7 pages) a day, every day, for 30 days.
I did it last year, and I can tell you, it is not easy. But more importantly, it’s also not impossible.
I learned some lessons from last year’s experience.
Firstly, I’m giving myself a healthy cushion of written words in the first couple of weeks, so that when there are “off” days later, it doesn’t put me behind par.
Then, I’ve outlined a lot more, even down to the scene, so that when I hit a wall mid-way (the point where I haven’t really, truly thought through things beyond, “And then maybe that thing should happen”), it’s not a huge blow to the daily writing count.
And I’m also documenting my feelings and progress each day. It’s fun and extremely satisfying to look back on your huge stack of printed pages at the end of the month, but because I didn’t write down what I was thinking about each day last year, it’s all a bit of a blur now.
So here are my “NaNo faces”, an experiment in capturing how I’m feeling about the process, each day, as I go along. I’ll update this blog post occasionally throughout the month.
Day 1. Feeling: laughcry.
Day 2. Feeling: SO TIRED.
Day 3. Feeling: hopeful/delusional.
Day 4. Feeling: meow.
Day 5. Feeling: oh god the planning.
In mid-November, I learned that my grandfather was, after a long period of illness, entering his final days. He passed away on the 15th, and I flew to El Paso for the funeral, and to spend time with family. I’d stopped writing during that time, but figured I could do some catching up once I was back; it would have put me at about 5k a day, but it was still within the realm of possibility.
Unfortunately, on the plane back I picked up a nasty bug that kept me out of work for a couple of weeks. During that time, I did try to keep writing, keeping my laptop in the bed with me, typing with my eyes closed. Eventually I realized it wasn’t going to happen, so I threw in the towel at 34,171 words.
Even so, I learned a few more lessons about staying on track, and managing my time and expectations, that will help me a lot next year. As they say, in the parlance of our times, “Sometimes you eat the bar, sometimes the bar eats you.” This was definitely a case of the latter.