It is day 17 of my first NaNoWriMo. Progress on my WIP is going strong and that is probably the best part about doing NaNo. The time-crunch forces me to keep writing and working through some tough spots, aka “plot holes.” And, sometimes, I’d rather have a plot hole than a blank scene or (perhaps worse?) a scene that I haven’t had as much time to make exciting or original. So, occasionally, for the sake of wordcount, a scene is more of a placeholder than a massive, gripping plot point. Le sigh. My margin notes, or in my case Scrivener notes are, ah, interesting: “make this better” and “what is the goal of this scene?” 🙂
In terms of keeping score, I am a wee bit behind my target wordcount. As of this post, I’m over 23,000 when an even pace would have me at 28,000 in order to hit 50,000 by November 30th. Week two, a notorious week for NaNo-ers, apparently, kicked my ass this week too. I’ve fought off a cold as the least of my distractions. Today, my break during a major catch-up day, is blogging, which I have missed.
Here are my mid-NaNo findings in terms of what has and hasn’t been working for me.
As a strategy, Get Your Sh*t Done, has been great. That is largely how I spent the last half of October. Fall tasks such as doctors appointments, updating the kids’ winter gear, and even getting the family holiday card done were all completed last month. Woo! And, as you may have noticed, I wrapped up the website move this fall too. There are always more things to do, but it is nice to have my blog moved over, and the use of the domain name I purchased months ago up and going.
Similar in some ways to JuNo, I Signed Up For NaNoWriMo, joining the community of writers participating and that has been extremely helpful. It definitely helps to feel like a part of something bigger and greater than yourself, especially since much of my writing is done in a room by myself. (Surely explaining why I like connecting with other writers on twitter too.) One of my favorite parts of signing up for NaNo has been the daily emails. Last week, I even got an email from my novel. Verra clever, NaNo-people. My novel had plans for me. I sat up and listened, appreciating the invitation.
Other fun extras about joining NaNo (which is free, btw) include becoming “buddies” with other writers, where you can link to their progress, the graph feature that shows how my wordcount matches up to my daily 1667 word goal. So far, that is motivating, and not guilt-inducing. There are also forums for every writerly thing you could need. I have visited the Romance forum (and posted), but haven’t explored the other ones. But I know they are there, especially in case I get (more) stuck or need a lil pep talk.
One of the best decisions I made and stuck to heartily in week one was to Only Check Twitter After I’d Met My Wordcount Goal. This was hard but kept me focused. And it totally worked! The tiny downside is that my tweets aren’t particularly social, more like popping my head into a room and shouting my wordcount then leaving. Yuck. I know that I read tweets in my TL, but without sticking around to interact very much, the social element of it is lost. So, for those who tweeted back their support, thanks so much. 🙂 I look forward to being more social in December.
I have also been relying on my copy of Save the Cat. I’ve read it three times now. I can’t say my draft is based on a tight (or existing) STC outline, but using the structure helps me overall make decisions about what needs to happen when with my story. If you haven’t already, go read this book. It is so accessible and helpful. *Cough, even for pantsers like me.
Not So Helpful:
With all of the craziness that October brings for me personally and professionally, I did not have or make time to outline my novel. Yes, I am Totally Pantsing NaNo. Heh. I don’t recommend this, but it is what it is. I’m kind of between pantsing and plotting anyway, but not having smaller plot points mapped out has been stressful. Thankfully, my characters were fully-fleshed out (for me, at least), but I have wanted more time to really brainstorm how I want certain scenes to be written and events to unfold. No time for that with NaNo, so I just press on.
I am also Still Learning Scrivener. This summer I imported my prior WIP and loved the program, but, in what may be simple for some, it is not the easiest for me to figure out. I’m just not techy. Gah. I adore the notecards feature of Scrivener. Love it. Setting up this particular WIP, however, had my notecards all in one big pile. Ack! I’ve since fixed the issue, but picking up (new-ish) technology is not a good plan during NaNo. I will be scheduling more tutorial time for myself, clearly–post-NaNo.
My Day Job gets super busy in the fall and this was no different. I love what I do but there just wasn’t a way to work less during NaNo. Ah well.
I’ve probably taken a long enough break and need to get back to it, but for those NaNo-ing or not, what tips would you share for when you really want to be productive?