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Nov 29, 2013

Nanowrimo - be gentle with me, it's my first time

National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short has one basic requirement.

Write 50,000 words in 30 days
Start: November 1 End: November 30

I've followed this event from the sidelines for years. But this year I took the plunge and signed up because I wanted to lose the dilly-dally demon inside me for a short time and let him know who was in charge.

50K words requires - do the math - 1667 words per day. For those of you who think of books and writing in terms of pages, well, it's not that easy to convert. But I'll try. My chapters in the Schattenreich series tend to be between 2000-2800 words, depending on the scenes, amount of dialogue, etc. That works out to between 7-10 double-spaced pages of a Word document per chapter. So 1667 words - that's a little less. Let's say between 5-6 pages. Doesn't sound like much. Not really. But there's nothing gentle about it.

Because you have to do this every day. Even if you don't feel like it, aren't inspired, haven't got a clue what you're going to write next or how that scene you started yesterday is supposed to end up.

Here's my stats for the month on a cumulative scale.

It's a bar chart!
The straight line slanting upwards across the chart shows where the bars need to reach for me to be keeping up with the daily word counts. You'll notice a dip in my productivity around the beginning of week 2. Ahem. Yeah. I had some things to do during that second weekend. Let's call it life with something social attached. Then I found it hard to get myself hauled back up to the line. It would have been easy to give up at that point. But I rallied by the end of week 2 and had nary a setback (despite a 3-day head cold) until the end, where I made a nice couple of spurts that put me over today, Thanksgiving, November 28th, even with a hectic schedule of teaching and cleaning and whatnot. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Since I'm an expat, I have the advantage of not having to cook a monstrous (but delicious) Thanksgiving dinner or have alcohol or movies or even football to distract me. Unfortunately.

One of the things that happens once I start writing like this is that I not only quell the urge to procrastinate, I become obsessed. I eat, sleep and dream the novel. I drive with the radio off so I can think! and walk as in a daze through the grocery store on daily shopping trips. I give up having coherent conversation with the family.

I also am forced to stifle my inner editor. Daily word counts of this nature preclude mulling over word choice, fiddling with dialogue or - anything. It's just write write write. And then on to the next day. One thing that helps immensely is to have a plan. I did have one. The writing took a huge detour (right around where that slump showed up at the end of week 1), but it came back around to where it was supposed to be at the 50K mark, so it all worked out. And I've got the badge to show for it. 

I did violate one of the nanowrimo principles, which is the 50K should be your book from start to finish. Well, if you've ever read any of my books, you'll know that 50,000 doesn't even come close. So shoot me. I already had 50K going in. Now I have over 100K. And I need probably another 30K to 40K to be finished. But I'm a huge chunk closer than I was to finishing Triple Junction, the fifth and final book of the Schattenreich series. And totally psyched. So that dilly-dally monster, well, bless his heart. He's just going to have to go bother someone else for a while.

And now we can have our traditional Thanksgiving dinner (see below) on Saturday and I can look again at the faces I've been ignoring for the past 28 days and that I hope will no longer be frowning at me (including the cat), begin to sort the full laundry baskets (there were at least 10 of them last time I counted), get caught up on the other things...there are other things. I'm sure of it.

Raclette: our expat version of Thanksgiving

photo credit: jonlarge via photopin cc