Sunday, November 13, 2016

The obligatory NaNoWriMo post.

I was all set to do a post about the election this week. I had a not-very-political topic picked out and everything. But then today rolled around and I decided most of us are sick of hearing about it, one way or another, by now. So I'm going to write about National Novel Writing Month instead.

You knew this was coming, right? I mean, we're nearly halfway through November (and how did that happen?) and I haven't done a single post about NaNoWriMo, even though I've alluded to the fact that I'm participating again this year.

And it's popular on writing blogs and writers' blogs at this time of year to break out all the hoary advice about winning NaNo. There's plenty of stuff on what to write about and how to structure your story -- or, heck, forget structure and write whatever pops into your head. (We don't need no stinkin' outline!) And there's even more advice about how to stay on task, why you shouldn't give up if you fall behind, and how to catch up. As you may know, I believe weekends are made for this: schedule a day with just you and your computer, shut the door, and bleed as many thousands of words onto the virtual page as you can manage. I've gotten so I do this even when I'm not doing a NaNo-type event, and sometimes I go a little overboard. This past June, I wrote 8,100 words in a day. I don't think I'll ever do that again; I spent a good twelve hours at my desk that day, and by the end of it, I was exhausted. So this time, I'm trying to pace myself.

Just like with any major project, there are two ways to tackle NaNo: you can do a lot of work in an intense burst; or you can work on it steadily, in bits and pieces. The dumbest way to do it, I've found, is to not write at all during the week, and then cram a week's worth of word count (11,669 words) into a two-day weekend. It can be done, but you lose your whole weekend for other things, like real life. Plus it takes more time to get your head back in the story if you haven't touched it for five days.

So this year, I'm trying to write at least a little each day -- maybe not the full 1,667 words you need in order to finish by November 30th, but a few words. My challenge to myself is to not fall behind by more than a single day's word count; that's a relatively easy amount to make up on a weekend day, assuming you can make a date with your computer and shut the door and all the rest.

We're nearly two weeks in, and so far it's working pretty well. I was behind when I started yesterday, but I caught up pretty easily. And today, I'm right where I need to be: just under 22,000 words.

I do love a day when I can set the world aside, immerse myself in the world I'm creating, and write. So I expect I will keep doing those days occasionally. But this slower pace, especially for this first book of the series, feels right to me.

These moments of NaNoWriMo blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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