Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Take The High Road

Welcome to Part 2 of my 3-part series on NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month. Last month I talked about what NaNo is and how it can help your writing. Now that it's mid-NaNo, let's check in and see how it's going and talk about some pitfalls and how to get things rolling.

First, here's my personal word count as of this writing:

Not shabby, but not phenomenal. The accompanying picture pretty much sums up how my NaNo has been going this year. My word count has been blowing me the big raspberry almost every day this time, when every other year I'd be way ahead of the game by now. Still, aside from a few days where my count dipped below the daily goal, I've stayed on track and look to be finishing right around the end of the month.

The reasons for my personal worst performance this year are many, and some may wonder why die-hard NaNoers such as moi bother plugging along despite the myriad crap life throws our way. More on that in a moment.But first...

Five Good Reasons I Have For Quitting NaNoWriMo This Year:

1. My daughter got sick and had to go to the Emergency Room. Spent all night there with her and had to take care of her at home afterward.

2. I had edits due back to my publisher for my latest book, which naturally turned into the most involved, time-consuming batch of rewrites I'd ever encountered in my writing career.

3. I got an infection and wound up missing some work to visit the Urgent Care.

4. I had committed to write several short stories this month, plus edit and release one per week for my husband.

5. My car decided it didn't want to start this week.

None of this counts the holidays, shopping chores, work schedule, or other things that put dampers on the muse. Really, most any one of the above was probably enough to say, "Meh, forget NaNo this year. Better luck next time." No one would have made me feel bad about it. In fact, I'd have gotten nods of understanding and pats on the back for trying. After all, writing can take place all year. So it's no big deal if it doesn't get done today.

Or is it?

Five Good Reasons I Stuck With NaNo Anyway

1. My next book can't get written until I finish this one

2. I can't get royalty checks on a book I haven't written yet

3. Getting the same "flow" going in my story again will be tougher if I drop it now and pick it up later

4. The sense of accomplishment for sticking it out when the going gets tough puts a major happy in my step

5. (And most important of all): If I let my writing get derailed every time a legitimate, reasonable excuse comes along, I would probably never write another book

NaNo is a great practice ground for Taking Writing Seriously As A Life Choice. It gives us an excuse to lay things aside and put writing first. There are always things that can get in the way of this. We get sick, our cars break down, our kids and spouses need us to help take care of them, and our muses take unscheduled, unapproved vacations. As busy as all these things make us, it can be very difficult to "fit writing in" to our lives.

I like to tell people who want to go next level with their writing output to take the NaNo approach. Don't fit writing into your life; fit your life into your writing. See what happens. You needn't treat every single month as a NaNo month, and of course there are times when other things must and should take priority over the whim of our muse. But adopting the general mind set of NaNo month can set up a winning strategy that will increase your productivity all year round. Really. You'd be amazed.

So, you decided not to do NaNo this year? I have a challenge for you. Start tomorrow with a do-or-die dare to write 1667 words per day until November 30. If you do this, you will be halfway to a full length novel by the time you're through.

Next time, I'll be doing a post-NaNo wrap up post and we'll see whether I succeed in putting my money where my mouth is this year. To those of you who are mid-NaNo, hang on; we're halfway there! To the rest, what is there to lose by starting your next project tomorrow? November will come and go regardless of whether you write a book. But wouldn't it be more awesome if you had?


Allison Merritt said...

Almost everyone I've talked to has had difficulty writing in NaNo this year. I'm ahead right now, but not because I've been pushing past my 1667 a day. I've invented tons of reasons to procrastinate.

I'm glad week two is over because it always seems the be the hardest. Now that my counter is showing I've written more than I have left, I feel more confident.

You make some great points about why we should carry on. Hope every one in your house is well now and stays that way.

Good luck with finishing!

J.Rose Allister said...

Thanks, Allison!! And congrats to you on your word count!

I have heard from a lot of NaNo folks that this year has been a real challenge. Interesting. I haven't added more than 10 words to my count in two days, but am anticipating a huge catch-up push this weekend. Here's hoping!