It’s December, that means holiday cheer, Christmas music, and reflecting back on NaNoWriMo, and what I learned this year.
If you were following my twitter you might already know that I failed NaNoWriMo this year. In fact it’s the first time in over five years that I’ve lost NaNo. I only got 38,309 words written. Still, I managed an average of 1200 words a day, which isn’t a bad showing. But I didn’t win.
This year was a very slow start. I remember being frustrated, and having to force myself to sit down and write for that first week. And even when I did finally sit down I didn’t have a lot of time. I often became tired, and just gave up after 800-1200 words with the idea that I’d make it up the next week. Only the next week didn’t come. Not really.
I had my moments. Days in which I hit 2200, one glorious moment when I hit 3200. But it was the small days in which I only got 300, or 400 words that caused me to fail. If I had written at least 1000 words a day then the other days, the days when I strove for better, when the story was hitting it’s mark, I would have earn my 50,000 words.
But, there’s a lesson to be learned from the failing, and that is why I do NaNoWriMo every year. Not for the win, not for the words I get ahead in my writing (though that’s nice) but for the things I learn about myself.
This year my heart just didn’t seem to be in NaNoWriMo. It was hard to write, hard to find the words, hard to follow the story at times. I think there were three things that lead to my inability to write as much as I would have liked.
My story wasn’t focused.
I am a both a plotter, and a pantser. I write simple beat style plots for my story (x did this, then did this, then this happened.) Then from those notes I do the actual story. Most of the time it works, but it really depends on how detailed the plot is. Sometimes, like this time, the story grows outside of the original beats and I have to completely rework the novel. This time I had a 2600 word plot exasperated into individual chapters, which a running story line going through it all. But after writing it I realized that pacing and character development weren’t completed. I needed more story. Whole chapters and scenes needed to be added in. More characters created.
I ended up having to rewrite the entire plot line to see what I had already written, and what was missing. That took a couple days, and I still need to do more of it for the last few chapters. The novel is 35,000 words at the moment, but I’m only about half way through the novel.
This plot shifting caused a huge hiccup in my writing schedule. I had to figure out what I was writing before I could even attempt to go forward. But once I did figure it out I had some really good word count days.
My family was more important.
My schedule changed when I got a new job a few months ago. The new schedule means that I go to bed shortly before Gregg (my boyfriend) is getting up. I often get home to find him already asleep, or headed that way. This means we don’t get as much quality time together. And, to be frank, that sucks.
We have had to consciously make time for one another. Adjust sleep schedules. Nap if needed. Anything so that we can spend a little bit of time with one another. My writing has suffered because I’d rather spend time with my boyfriend when I’m able, talking, laughing, and enjoying his company, than finishing my book.
Hopefully our schedules will be more compatible after January, but only time will tell for sure.
I was distracted.
Election day was November 8th, and like many people in the USA I was distracted, watching the debates, reading forum posts and news articles, listening to opposing arguments for and against. I was fascinated by everything happening, and disturbed in many ways. I’m a centrist, I like to vote based on facts, not feelings, so I was appalled by things on both side of this election. Some things more than others, but just because one side is more wrong then the other it didn’t mean I ignored the problem with the apposing side.
I tried avoiding stating my personal viewpoints most of the time online because there were so many people who were just being entirely hateful to one another, on both sides, and it hurt to watch friendships falling apart. One of the few times I spoke up I lost a friend over it. So I stayed quiet for the most part, listening but not saying anything very much except to a few friends, and my boyfriend.
Than one night my boyfriend said “you know what, you should write about these things. It’s clearly eating you up inside, and you need to get these thoughts out. Try writing it down.”
So I did. In the graph above you’ll see two sections. Blue for “The Half Blood Sorceress” series which was my NaNo project. Red for the political writings I started to do. You’ll notice I had a lot to say at first, and it lessoned over time. You’ll also note that as soon as I started getting all of those questions and ideas about politics, society, and social obligations out of my head….I finally started to really work on my book.
(Green is for blog posts and news letters. I don’t count them in my NaNo word counts, but I do keep track of them.)
Will I ever publish those words talking about social inequalities and observations? Maybe, possibly. If I do it won’t be under my name though. It’s too dangerous. People get really mad about politics, and lately it seems there are more people who think that if you don’t agree with them 100% then you’re wrong and they will attack you. I’m a centrist, so that’s not good for me. Both sides tend to attack those in the middle.
Considering my heart just wasn’t in NaNo this year, I still did damn good with my writing. I rarely write 30k in a month. The fact hat I was almost at 40k this month, even with my heart completely somewhere else, means I didn’t do that badly. I’m kind of proud of that.
But it also means I have no excuse for writing less than 30k a month (unless I’m incredibly sick, or my world is falling apart.) Writing is part of me, it keeps me sane. It lets me focus my thoughts, and discuss the world and what I see in it. Writing helps me to understand the world around me.
If I manage another 30k for the month of December than I will have written another quarter of a million words this year. If I can manage that then maybe next years goal will be half a million.
Time to get writing.