That time of year is nearly upon us again when writers all over the world abandon family, friends, pets, and good sense and attempt to commit to paper (or screen more commonly, I assume) 50,000 words in thirty days. This will be my third NaNoWriMo.
I can’t recall when I first heard of NaNoWriMo. I think it was in 2003 or 4, way back when it was nowhere near as huge as it is now. Long enough ago that I heard about on a newsgroup . . . does anybody else remember those? I thought it sounded horribly stupid. Fifty thousand words doesn’t make a novel! Why, you could just write “the” fifty thousand times and win! It belittles the noble profession of writing!
Please note at this time I had never finished writing anything that wasn’t for an school assignment. Yeah. My ego was a little out of control.
Then a few years later, after everyone and their brother started doing it, I heard about it again. By then I’d finished a few short stories, all in the under 5,000 word range (even the ones that really should have been longer). So I didn’t need NaNoWriMo. I was a short story author. My novel idea wasn’t suffering from me lacking the discipline to write; it was suffering from me not being able to get it perfect.
(By the way, I blame my drive for perfection in rough drafts on one too many English teachers who told me my rough draft was perfect enough that I didn’t need to revise. I have since reread some of these papers. My English teachers didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about.)
Then 2012 came along. I woke up with an idea one day in late October and ended up writing 10,000 words in five days. At the time, this was an amazing amount for me. The longest thing I’d ever finished was only 7,700 words. I decided I’d do NaNoWriMo, especially once I heard about Rebels, people who did things like work on things they were already working on. So, I did it, and I learned some very important things about my writing process:
1) I need to keep my word processor open all the time. If I close it, I tend to find things to do besides write.
2) I do best when I don’t let myself go to bed until I’ve written at least a scene a day.
3) I can start out pantsing, but if I don’t ever come up with some kind of plan, the story will end up a horribly tangled mess. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this on here before.
4) I need to only work on one thing at a time if I want to get anything finished.
That story ended up a mess and too short for me to win with just it, but I was able to finish a novella I’d been working on.
I couldn’t maintain the discipline I’d learned for various reasons throughout 2013, some of which were health related, some of which were pet related, and some of which were just me procrastinating, really. But I still almost successfully did one of the Camps (I cheated and counted some notes to win, because I would’ve won if I hadn’t come down with some horrid virus from the ninth layer of the Abyss).
Then NaNoWriMo 2013 happened and, though I won, something terribly dreadful happened that has been affecting my writing ever since. You see, my writing speed had been steadily increasing, from less than 200 words an hour back when I was trying to write perfect rough drafts to an average of about 1050 words an hour, sometimes as much as 1200. I also discovered that I could keep this up for about four or five hours at a stretch.
So, being an inherently lazy person, I decided that I didn’t need to write every day. If I could write 5000 words in just five hours, thought I, and I’d set a goal for myself for the month of only 20,000, why then I only needed to write four days a month! Ignoring, of course, that I’d worked that goal out based on figuring I could find the time 20 days of the month to write 1000 words. No, I don’t make sense, even to myself.
April started with my spouse needing surgery, so it wasn’t my fault I only got 10,000 words during that Camp. July though . . . I just kept putting it off because “I can catch up later.” I know better than this. I learned time and again in high school and college both that waiting to the last minute is a very bad plan.
But I did it anyway.
I won, once I lowered my word count to 10,000. I even finally finished No More Lies.
I took a break after that. A planned one. I’d been writing the same story for a year, with only small breaks. I was starting to sound like the narrator, Bobby, in real life, which, as he’s an abrasive jerk at times, was not a good thing.
I have no idea how many words I’ve written in September and October. I know it’s been a lot of a bit here, a bit there sort of stuff as I tried to figure out what I really wanted to work on next. I also know it’s nowhere near the amount it would’ve been if I’d just sat my butt down and written five days a week like I always put on my planner that I’m going to do.
So, that’s my goal for NaNoWriMo this year: Get back in the habit of writing at least three days a week, five preferably. Because I know I can do 50,000 words in a month. That’s not a problem. Been there, done that, twice. Now I need to develop the discipline to get a respectable word count every month. Not 50,000. That is a bit of a stretch for me, involving late nights, even by my standards, and writing during meals and such, but I can do 20,000 easily. I just haven’t been.
If you want to friend me on nanowrimo.com, my name there is ziresta.