How I’m Spending This Nanowrimo

This November I decided not to participate in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). Does that mean I’m not working on my novel? Certainly not. I’ve been working on my novel this month like crazy. All November I’ve been working towards a huge novel-centric goal of my own. It just wasn’t Nanowrimo’s goal of writing 50,000 words in a month.

Nanowrimo’s goal is great for when you are writing a first draft and want to write it quickly. And I love Camp Nanowrimo in April and July because you can set a more flexible goal that can either be the total words you write, or minutes you spend working on your project. The supportive online community of writers in both Nanowrimo and Camp Nanowrimo motivates and inspires me.

However, I have to say this:

I am definitely a fan of Camp Nanowrimo. But the November Nanowrimo itself has never worked for me.

There are a few reasons for this:

 

  1. I’m usually not ready to start a new novel in November. I’m working on another novel in progress. I can’t just write a novel in November and call it a month. I’ve been working through my current novel for many, many months.
  2. Word count goals don’t lend themselves towards editing where progress is slow and the delete key sometimes feels like the only key. I log my progress by the number of minutes I write in a week.
  3. I could write 50,000 words in a month, but I guarantee they will be garbage. And that’s okay if you want to get your thoughts all out in one full swoop during a first draft. Sometimes you have to wade through garbage to find diamonds in the rough. But if I’m just going to have to do a complete rewrite anyway, I’d rather write my novel methodically instead of at the speed of light.

 

This isn’t to bash Nano too badly. If it works for you, it works.

My goal this November is to edit my current novel into shape so that I feel ready to send it to some beta-readers at the end of the month. This has led to some pretty intense rounds of edits. I figured out how to turn my main character into a hero. I figured out my ending. I sat down and analyzed what had to happen to make the book work.

Once I’d “finished,” I gave it to my husband to read. Then he gave me feedback. Now I’m working on strengthening a few more points to improve the ending before I show it to more people.

My goal isn’t a goal of 50,000 words in a month. I have more than 50,000 words for a while now. It’s making sure those +50,000 words are the right ones and fit with the right plot points. It’s rewriting some of those +50,000 words to make them belong to a whole.

Will I make my goal?

Well, November 30th is coming around really fast, but I think I will.

Fingers crossed.

10 Ways to Make Your Writing Routine Actually Stick

  1. Schedule your time. You’ve probably heard it before, but it helps to make a schedule of everything you do everyday for a week. After the week, you can see where you have space to write and what you can move around to make space to write. When doing this, consider when you prefer to write. Are you a morning or evening person? I find I am much more productive in the morning! This being said, you can learn to write at any time of the day. So, make a schedule and stick to it.
  2. Have a convenient and comfortable location to work. Some people work better at home. Some people work better out of the house. I’m one of those people who works well in my room at my desk. Frankly, I don’t have the budget for cafés and my local library is a fair trek. Make sure that you have a place to write that is your own where you won’t be interrupted.
  3. Inform the people who you live with about your writing time. It is important to do this so that your time is respected and they are aware that you are working and aren’t available. My husband and I have a rule with each other. When one of us closes our door, it means we are working  and are not to be bothered. Since we both work from home, this is necessary! Otherwise we wouldn’t get anything done!
  4. Protect your time. If you’ve decided that your writing time is in the afternoons and friends keep calling you to hang out during the afternoon and you keep cancelling on your writing time… Well! either you should reschedule your friends or your writing. Treat your writing time with respect, otherwise no one else will.
  5. Avoid distractions. Disconnect the WiFi. Unplug. Don’t be checking Facebook, email or twitter every five seconds, otherwise bam! You’ve just scheduled yourself a time to tweet everyday. Have a separate time to surf the net.
  6. Record your progress. Make Nanowrimo everyday! You can record your word count at the end of each session in a spread sheet to keep you motivated. However, this might not work well during editing. Then the delete key sometimes feels like the only key, so your word count might grow slowly. When editing it’s helpful to keep a time log of your sessions instead.
  7. Tell people about your project. Broadcast it among your friends. This serves as a huge motivator for me, since I know the next time I speak to my friends they will ask me how my writing is going. If I’m not keeping my writing routine, then I can’t give a positive answer.
  8. Set goals for yourself. Weekly goals, monthly goals, big deadlines, small deadlines. Make lots of goals, see if you meet them, and reevaluate. This way you can monitor your progress.
  9. Reward yourself after you meet these goals. Get yourself something you really want and is a little frivolous. I’ve heard of one writer who got herself a pair of fancy shoes. I tend to buy music albums. That way I can listen to them as I write some more!
  10. Have a ritual. Some writers like to make a cup of tea, or listen to a certain song to create the right head space, or light a candle. I have a very bare bones ritual, where I start my laptop, look out the window, and prepare my mind to write. Do whatever works for you.