Friday, November 18, 2016

NaNoWriMo - Hitting the Top Early

My eighth year of NaNo!
I posted about how I got a late start with NaNoWriMo again this year, but that I figured I could still pull it out because I usually get a few hot writing streaks during the month.  Well, I can't believe it, but I hit 50K words on November 16.  And that is considering that I only wrote for 12 of those 16 days.  This comes out to (what for me) is a blistering 4430 average words per day, on those days I was writing.  I'm pretty astonished.  This is the fastest I've ever reached the 50K NaNo goal.

So if you are a NaNo-newbie, maybe you are wondering how I did it ... and if you can, too.  First of all, I'm sure that you can do it!  What I'm not so sure about is if what works for me will work for anybody else.  But on the off chance that it might ... here are a few thoughts on how I'm cranking away this year.

1) Writing in all the spare moments.  I usually like to write when I can sit down and really focus, but that's not always an option.  I find this year I've been doing a lot of writing in 100 to 200 word bits and pieces.  A few lines of dialog here, or a brief description of a scene there.  I keep my computer open and ready to go, and whenever I have to wait around, I write - waiting for laundry means words, waiting for an email from a colleague means words, waiting four minutes for my tea to steep means words.  It is really adding up.

Wow - 50K on day sixteen.
I wonder if this graph is just going to flatten out
now, or if I'll keep on writing at this pace.

2) Having so much fun with the book.  This year, I picked back up on a piece of writing from the past that I really enjoyed.  It needed a lot of work, but I liked the way the first part of it came out, and wanted to finish it.  This is a book I'd want to read, myself.  It has vampires, zombies, battles, true love, and, well, it's not Princess Bride but you can't have everything.  So I say, when it comes to NaNo, don't settle for an idea you feel ho-hum about.  Pick something that you are really emotionally invested in.  That emotion will carry you through the dry times, and keep you going. 

3) Defining the characters.  When I do get times to focus and just write for a while, the words have been flowing out of my fingers fast.  Part of this is because I did a pretty good job of defining the characters in the first chapters.  Now all I have to do is put them in situations and write down what they say and do.  It is a total adventure for me.  Even though I know the ending of the book already, I'm not exactly sure how the characters will get there, or even exactly who will be alive at the end.  So it's all pretty exciting.  The characters are leading it all, and taking me along for the ride.  And they talk a lot (and spend time running from zombies, and fighting with a vampire war-lord, and on and on ...) - that's a lot of words.

4) Recognizing that writing is good for me.  I've been very distracted by the world these past weeks.  For some people, the reaction is to freeze up and not be able to write anything.  For me, I noticed that I felt better after writing, even if it was a very tough writing session.  So I pushed myself to write even (especially) when the world was pressing in.  My last post was to keep on writing, and I feel it is keenly important, now more than ever, that we do indeed keep on writing.  Give it a read for some encouragement.

Image Credits:  Particpant badge from the NaNoWriMo site, and a screen grab of my own data, also from the NaNo site, on my page.

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