Return to Nanowrimo

My new waterproof notepad for those ideas that inevitable come in the shower.

It takes an effort to accomplish Nanowrimo and to do other things besides Nanowrimo that you just can’t function without… (For me, this includes cleaning, laundry, making meals, dishes, helping kids with homework, keeping up on the college application process, random appointments like for doctors and grooming, one week singing at church, and always Thanksgiving, my daughter’s birthday, and normal hygiene. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things. I may have stopped working out, temporarily.) Right now, my days mostly consist of getting everyone ready and sometimes going to a coffee shop or workshare and then hours writing actual words (the point of Nanowrimo) followed by hours of story-planning (keeping ahead of where I’m writing, ideally). After dinner and homework and whatever else is going on, I have been focusing on reading and viewing thematically, to keep my in the vibes and keep my brain working. (I have dotted the landscape of my house with notepads and pens, even the shower with waterproof paper and the car with a voice recorder.) I do try not to write too late because it gets difficult to switch off my story thoughts to sleep.

We are a week in! Today is day 8. I have tried to blog before now. It has not been a success, though this is partly because I am working on a few longer-term blogs, like series I am reading or books in a certain category that will be posted together. So maybe the static of The Starving Artist isn’t all Nano’s fault, but getting 1667 words on the page per day is a real thing and it takes time and energy. Last night, after having to catch up after a migraine and put almost 4,000 words on the page during the one day, I realized I was exhausted by my effort. Exhausted. I still made dinner and did the dishes but only got through half the laundry baskets of folding before I just rolled over to watch Enola Holmes 2, Halloween decorations still hanging in the family room.

Story-boarding a la Save the Cat! Writes a Novel.

How am I doing with my Nano goals? Technically, each day is at first broken down into a goal of 1667 words for everyone. As you either hit or don’t hit that target each day, the auto-generated goal adjusts to spread out your total over the amount of days you have left. (This year, for the first time, I have been having issues with the Nano site, and it hasn’t worked for me all the time.) I have an adjusted schedule in my dot journal, since I need to basically take five days off late in the month for the holidays. My goal is to write upwards of 2000 words per day. Spread out like that, it’s not super difficult to go a little extra daily rather than write a ton extra at the end. I am above target, technically, though I am a smidge below my 2000-word target. I do think I will catch up soon, but I get nervous like every day. Will I know what to write? Do I know these characters and this story well enough? Is it somewhere in there, in my brain? I went to bed last night with 13,258 words written in 1 week. The official target was 11,669. My personal target was 14,000. I am very excitable right now.

Write-in with sprints on an unseasonably hot Saturday. There are like eight people to my right.

I have been attending write-ins and have been introduced to sprints, which is kind of revolutionizing my writing. Sprints are just a prescribed length of time (usually 15 or 20 minutes) where you set a timer and then sit there and write straight till the timer goes off. Sprints are often done at either in-person write-ins or virtual write-ins, though you can conduct sprints (with or without others) with tools online. Besides in-person, I have been using a Youtube video with dramatic, fantasy music to write alone during a sprint and also a bot on my local Nanowrimo’s Discord channel to invite others to do them with me. (If you don’t understand what I just said, I wouldn’t have a week ago, either. I had to get some help and watch a tutorial to interact with Discord but it is central to the way my local Nano chapter does Nano.)

I won a Starbucks gift card (trivia), so I decided it would mean about four trips to write away.

What I have discovered at the various write-ins and sprints I have attended is that I write fast, but not the fastest. (There are some Nanowrimers—one in particular—who are disqualified from competing more than once per write-in during sprints, because they write like 2-3 times faster than anyone else there.) I even write dialogue pretty fast. I was a little surprised because I write two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back, always looking to edit and write intentionally, even while drafting. I average a very reliable 500-550 words per 15-20 minute sprint, which means if I do 4 sprints a day, I am at 2,000 words. This also means that I can go ahead and set one of those writer, daily, word goals for myself for the foreseeable future. 2,000 words per day (not counting weekends, at least at this stage of my life) is not out of reach for me, not at all. There is a certain obsession that comes along with writing a project, though, that does kinda cloud the rest of my life, so I think it would be healthy to take breaks, especially after a whole novel. But a couple hours writing straight, a couple hours doing other story-related things, and the rest of the day on all that other writerly stuff, and I’ll be a regular Stephen King, just my desk will move around like magic.

Ready for story-boarding. Those are pins.

I am having the time of my life, writing, story-planning, reading engaging books (even if they are not high fiction), getting pumped up and talking shop with other, kind people. I don’t know if it’s how much I believe in the story that I am writing right now, or the new wardrobe for taking myself seriously, but I do really love writing and I was built to do it. Even blogs. Even lame blogs, like this one.

But that is the update. That is it in a nutshell. Hopefully in a couple days I’ll have another blog for you, and then another after that, even though it is November, the most writerly time of the year.


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