Today marks the halfway point of #NaNoWriMo 2019! So now seems like a good time to follow up my post from the beginning of the month. An update on my progress, how I’m measuring up to my own goals, and what I’ve learned so far.
- Know what you’re going to write. A few days ago, I had my first “WOW! Didn’t see that coming!” moment. And it was a doozy. The story informed me that something I hadn’t planned for was happening, whether I liked it or not. And it was way too brilliant to be denied. So I followed along with the book’s mandates, and now I’ve got this whole unanticipated, exciting new territory to roam around in as I write.In my experience, when you’re writing fiction and your story or character tells you where it’s going? That’s the pinnacle moment. That’s peak awesome. It’s exhilarating beyond any other creative experience I know. So I just hold and let the journey happen, trusting that it’ll be better for it in the end.
So now, I’m still adhering to my outline in form, but the content of what’s happening in those scenes isn’t going as planned. I don’t need to wonder what will happen next, so much as how it will happen. So I think this strategy is still working.
- Plan to fail but try to win. So, as it turns out, writing 1,667 words every day is REALLY HARD. Not so much because I don’t have that many words to write, but because I don’t have time to write them. I knew that it would be tough, so this comes as no surprise. But I’m having a hard time being okay with falling short of my goal. I’ve been watching my little progress-o-meter turn from a takeoff trajectory into a “oh, this plane is a glider, not a jet” flight plan. (See featured image above.)
That being said, I’m still 16,923 words closer to having this book finished than I did two weeks ago. I’m averaging 1,538 words a day on the days I write. A little below my goal, but not terribly so.
I’ve missed four days of writing so far. Which, honestly, isn’t that bad. Given how packed my schedule is with work responsibilities and the fact that I had a family visit last week, I’m actually doing pretty well. Going into the month with a goal of 50K was a little too ambitious, and I knew that. But I figured I may as well go for broke. And I guess I’ve found the “broke” part of that already!
- Tell everyone what you’re doing. I’ve been great at telling everybody that I’m writing a book this month. Because, seriously, I’m really proud of myself for doing it. But…I’ve also been pretty much failing at prioritizing #NaNoWriMo over other things. When a social engagement comes up, I’ve been doing that instead of writing. Then again, I’m kind of proud of myself for doing that, too. I’m prone to working till ten or eleven at night and not doing anything social, so taking opportunities to go out and brag about writing a book…even if it means I’m not writing at that moment…feels okay. I may have to really double down later this month, though, and stay in to write more militantly. It looks like I’m out of money at the month’s halfway point, anyway, so I guess that will work.
- Find accountability hacks. I’ve been posting my daily word count on Twitter, on my #NaNoWriMo profile, and on the Oneshi Press Discord server every night after I’ve wrapped up. It feels good to congratulate myself for my work, and it feels even better when I get positive feedback from other folks. This is hard work, and I’m proud of doing it. That being said, I hope that in the future I may be able to focus a little less on word count and more on some other metric. Not that I’m not proud of my word count, but it just feels a little pedantic and numbers heavy. But, since that’s how I’ve started out this year, it’s how I’ll keep going for now. Next year, maybe I’ll use something else.
- Get a great playlist. Okay, I haven’t had the time to really dig in and find or make the perfect playlist. But I have lots of good ones already in place for working, so I’ve mostly been using those, and they seem to be working. Then again, with this thing only halfway complete and me falling behind… Maybe now’s the time to make one.
Here’s how my stuff-to-work-on list is coming along:
- Not editing as I write. This has been difficult. I haven’t totally avoided editing as I go—in fact there was a scene I’d finished, but then realized that one character was the wrong gender. So instead of just writing when I sat down the next day, I went back and changed the previous scene. I know it was a time suck, but it felt way better when it had been edited, and I was able to move on. That incident aside, however, I’ve been getting okay at powering forward instead of lingering over words, and in sections where I know I’m failing, I’ve started just writing stand-in text in bold so it’ll be easy to find and fix later.
- Creating a routine. This is not going well. I really wanted to find a groove, but it’s been a lot more frantic fitting-it-in-when-I-can behavior so far. I tend to write after I’ve finished my editorial work for the day, which means I’m often writing late at night when I’m hungry and tired. But, hey. I’m writing!
- Write, don’t scroll! My brilliant partner Jayel helped me with this one! I talk to a few friends throughout the day on Facebook Messenger, which was turning into a big problem. Every time I’d open my Facebook tab to respond to a message, I’d end up scrolling through my timeline for ten minutes. I was losing a ton of time that way. So, at Jayel’s suggestion, I instead downloaded the Messenger app to my laptop. It’s worked for a few reasons: 1) I don’t have to have Facebook open, so I’m not tempted to scroll. 2) It’s easier to ignore a small icon in my task bar with a number notification next to it than a flashing tab telling me who messaged. 3) The Messenger app for Windows is awful. It takes forever to load and is slow even when it’s loaded. So, though it keeps me connected, it makes me less likely to open it every five seconds and respond to every message. My productivity has truly skyrocketed!
- Keeping it exciting. I don’t really have a strategy in place to keep myself excited about writing. But I’m halfway through the month and behind on my word count. So I’m hoping that looming-deadline, last-minute panic will work as a motivator for me. It always has in the past!
- Make-ahead and easy meals. I haven’t had the presence of mind to plan these ahead. I’ve been stressing over making time to cook and write instead. It’s not great. Maybe the halfway point is the time to change that…
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