My November

keyboard flat

My unofficial attempt at NaNoWriMo did not quite go as well as I expected. I started out strong but as other commitments and a crazy workload at the day job pushed in on me it became harder and harder to meet the target.

At the end of November I had 23,000 words. A reasonable attempt and nearly half way.

 

How the month progressed

I started super confident because I had produced so many words for this draft since the end of August. Some parts are currently not flowing so well and I am at the point where I am writing all over the place. I recently heard this referred to as “jigsawing”. I write scenes in no particular order and then put them into my file where they are meant to go.

Over the last few weeks I have been doing more of this by focusing on particular groups of characters, or minor individuals and writing scenes for their storyline that will fit in with the main story. Sometimes during the writing of one scene I get an idea for another unrelated scene and then write that. This way of writing works for me and although I have tried to change my writing practice somewhat my crazy writing order just doesn’t seem to be changeable.

 

Would I NaNoWriMo again?

Possibly. Part of me thinks it depends on the project I’m working on at this time next year. But I wouldn’t rule it out after a not so stellar try.

 

What did I learn?

That I need to ensure I have that hour a day quarantined for my writing. In that focused hour I can achieve a lot. This reinforces what I have been discussing lately; in that setting time aside and planning what to do with that time is useful.

It also means that when things come up that guilt is not useful. In the middle of November when my day job was crazy and I was crawling home exhausted, and sleeping through my alarm the next day, guilt about not getting an hour of writing done was not going to make any difference to meeting my writing commitments.

I realised that I haven’t been recording all of my writing in the same way, particularly my blogging work. Over the month I discovered that blogging takes more time than I had previously thought it did.

Did you try NaNoWriMo – officially or otherwise – and what did you learn from the experience?

Using the write tools to keep the words flowing

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In an attempt to ensure the ink continues to flow I am unofficially attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time. It is actually going reasonably well and apart from one day I have easily met the daily target. This also means that I have been focused on my drafting again and so a little lax with my other writing commitments (hence the first post in ages).

The (albeit unofficial) target is certainly helping me maintain my daily writing practice. Setting targets can be a useful tool to keep the writing flowing, but I must admit that it doesn’t always work for me. There have been times (and quite recently) when I haven’t been meeting my daily writing goal resulting in guilt and stress and subsequent blocks.

To keep the writing flowing it is important to have a good understanding of your own processes and what tools to use when the writing starts to stall or stops.

During my recent dry spell I did not stop to consider the tools that usually help me move beyond a block. Part of the reason that I didn’t consider what could help is that I had slipped out of the habit of reflecting on my writing processes and thinking critically about what I am doing, how I am doing it, what works and what does not.

Simple review can be as easy as what worked and what didn’t, how I went with meeting my daily goals and if they are bringing me closer to meeting my weekly and longer term goals. If not, then why not? What was different about today or what could change to get done what I planned?

My life changed when I moved in with my parents a little over 12 months ago. My evening routine changed and this impacted on my planning, reviewing and my writing processes the following day. I am now actively trying to change that back a little closer to what it was. This is not always easy and I am hoping that within the next six months I will be in my own (brand new) home and I can rework my schedule.

I have found that the easiest way to meet my target is to have a plan before I sit down. To have an idea of the scene I want to write, or character I want to explore. I don’t need it in detail, that isn’t how I write, but an idea of a start is very useful. The clearer I am on what I am doing during a writing session the quicker I find my flow and the easier the words fill the page.

Although I am focused on my drafting, even dreaming of my characters now, I have other writing commitments too. Sometimes when it is hard to start on my current draft I can outline a few blog posts or try to refine one and then once the words are flowing and I have finished something I can go back to the drafting with a clear head.

Your writer’s toolbox might have a lot of tools in it but combining these to work together is better to keep you writing. Although setting targets are useful, I need to pair that with a clear writing goal, booked writing time and consider multiple projects to ensure I am writing.

How is NoNoWriMo going for you? What is helping you meet your daily target?