Thursday, December 3, 2015

My NaNoWriMo Results: Deadlines, Diversions and Determination

Somebody needs to tell the NaNoWriMo organizers that Thanksgiving week is in November. Do they know that? Children are home from school and food must be cooked and/or ordered, eaten, packed up, unpacked and eaten again. There’s unavoidable socializing and the naps caused by it, afterwards, the inevitable food coma and/or trudging through the local mall. These last two do not go well together, I can tell you.

The thing is, I started off very strongly. I posted about my first week here, and I was shamelessly proud of myself. After months (years!) of thinking about a certain novel, I was finally out of the gate. The first chapters spilled out almost effortlessly. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get 1500-2000 (or more!) words down each day. It was almost embarrassing, like when you procrastinate something like shaving your legs and then afterwards, can’t believe how long you let it go. I had missed the process of writing every day, the single-mindedness of it, the intensity. I cruised right through the second week. I had a hard time reading fiction during this time. By the end of the day, I couldn’t focus on anything beyond silly television shows or non-fiction magazine reading so I gave up. The third week was tougher still. I was now into the second part of a planned three parts, new terrain that I had outlined but hadn’t deeply contemplated. I kept writing, day after day, but it felt less inspired. And then I had a previously-planned three-day trip with a girlfriend to eat, shop and hit the spa. I was not unhappy to go. After that, Thanksgiving week bore down. I haven’t written since November 19th.

What I’ve learned: there is a definite benefit to immersing yourself in that single-mindedness. Elements of your writing cross-reference themselves nicely, effortlessly. The growing word count is ego-enhancing. But the experience is all-consuming, at least for me, and I'm not sure I could have kept it up. Perhaps without the real life distractions, I would have, or maybe I’m the type of writer who would’ve needed to come up for air. For certain, it became easier, day after day, NOT to write.

The good news: I wrote over 33,000 words in basically, eighteen days. This week, I’ve been reading through what I have so far and it’s not entirely terrible. So that’s good news too. I think the best part of the experience for me this year is the relief of finally beginning the story, for better or worse. And I’m not giving up. I’ve set a new deadline for mid-January, by which time I hope to have the first draft done, or at least, about 60%. There are the holidays to think about, after all.


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"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka