Well friends, I did it. I kicked NaNoWriMo’s ass and it didn’t kick mine back in return!!!! Now that I’ve had a little time to collect my thoughts and also to celebrate, I figure I should so a full wrap up about my experience this go round!
50000 Words in 30 Days
If you had told me back in August when I was recovering from Camp NaNo that I would accomplish 50k in 30 days, I would have laughed and called you crazy. The thing was, I had the HARDEST time back at Camp, despite having a project I loved and more time to do it in. At Camp, I pretty much stayed on track the whole time, rarely dropping below where I needed to be for more than a day or so, but felt like my brain was completely fried by the time I was done. But for NaNo, I spent TWO WEEKS unable to catch up, no matter how hard I tried. BUT, I wrote almost every single day, only having a mere handful where I skipped entirely (AND I also started 2 days late).
This time around I just wrote more consistently and regularly, sticking to a schedule that worked. And work it did, because I made it in the end!!
The Hardest Part
For the the hardest part was finding my story. In true NaNo spirit, I started with a completely new project and completely winged it from start to finish. I had this one scene in my head, with barely named characters, and apparently that was enough to work off of. But I had no idea where I wanted the plot to go, or what the ups and downs would be. I was Pantsing my pants off!!!
And it worked…sort of? My story definitely started to come together and I can now see the general timeline of beginning to end, but it is in no way done. I write most efficiently if I just put down whatever is in my head, so I definitely skipped around a lot. These characters did not come easy to me, unlike my last project. Hell, my MC’s best friend, who is a key player in the story, didn’t even have a name until like November 13th.
The Easiest Part
I think the easiest part is the now, where I can look back and actually see the story taking shape. This is so very much a bare-bones outline, and needs a lot more fleshing out. 50k words is maybe half of what it will take to get this baby into a full rough draft, but half is better than nothing!
Apparently writing 50k words in 30 days was easier than 30k in 31 days, because I came out of this NOT completely brain-dead like I did at camp. Some of the reasons were simple: I wasn’t trying to write in a blisteringly hot office in July, my husband was gone for almost two weeks, leaving me with a lot of downtime, and I learned that if I wrote in 20 minute times sprints I was more efficient and got more words down. Overall, I am feeling pretty damn good about this NaNo!
So, I don’t know that I will keep working on this project. Maybe? The thing is, I poured a lot into this story, but I just didn’t fall in love with my characters like I did for my other project. This made it harder to give them voices, and I never really had a moment where I was writing and started to get those tingly feels – something that happened often in my other project. Don’t get me wrong, I like my characters and I like the story, but I have a feeling my love for them will be slow-burn. I suppose only time will tell, and perhaps I will make a point to revisit them on a semi-regular basis and type away at their lives. Maybe Camp NaNo in April will see me coming back for more on this one.
And there definitely will be a next time. I will definitely be participating in the next Camp NaNo event. I might come back to one of my two existing projects (both are FAR from being finished first drafts), or perhaps I will find new inspiration between now and then. I am starting to find a system that works best for me, and that’s definitely a good thing!
My Top Tips that Worked for Me
- Writing at night.
- Most of my writing was done somewhere between 7pm and 10pm, depending on my schedule.
- Short 15-30 minute bursts.
- I always started with 20 min timed sprints. When the timer went off, I logged my words into NaNo, and set it for another 20. If I was on a really good roll and had a nice scene going, I would set it for 30. If I was feeling myself lagging, I would drop it to 15.
- My goal was to get in 90 minutes of writing, or 2000 words, whichever came first. I would keep going if I was feeling good, but I never made myself push past once I hit one of these goals. Thats how we get burnt-out
- Instrumental Music on Noise-Cancelling Headphones
- I wear my big gaming headphones and listened to various ambient music soundtracks on YouTube. This just helped me zone out the rest of the world.
- A Notebook on Hand
- I had a designated journal for this project (as I do with my other) and I would use that to write down quick thoughts that I didn’t have a place for yet.
- I would also use this to jot down ideas during the day. I never let myself open Scrivener unless I was going to sit down for a full writing session. This is just how I managed my time best, and also made it so I couldn’t excuse myself from a full session later just because I had “already written today, so that counts”.
Well…this definitely isn’t the end. In fact, I never actually made it to the end of my story, although I did throw down a few sentences for how I think it will turn out. So that alone might draw me back in, because I am SO close to having that complete outline done.
But for now, I am going to bask in the glory of finishing NaNoWriMo with 50,087 words, and that’s good enough for me!