NaNo 2016 – In Review

Coming into this year’s NaNoWriMo, I will admit that I had very high expectations. My last attempt was somewhat meager so I implemented what I thought was a good plan. Funny how regardless of how well-formed your plan is, life can just come along and blow it apart like a straw house.

It was somewhat comical how I planned and prepared so far in advance only to sabotage myself right out of the gate. I completed most of the Write for 31 Days challenge (blogging), had my outline prepared, gathered a posse of support, and had my resources readily available. Five days later after NaNo started, I decided that I was extremely unhappy with my life and that became the priority instead.

I am my own worst critic, and I would be lying if I said that I couldn’t have found some time in between things to write. I very well could have but honestly, I just was never in the mood.

In retrospect, I did write over twice the amount of words as what I accomplished last year. That is a noteworthy achievement I will recognize. Normally I am not a highly competitive person, but the corners of my mouth do tweak a little as I compare my stats to the rest of those I know and participated with.

To close out, here is a list of things that I learned or realized over the course of this year’s National Novel Writing Month that I wish to keep for the record as well as share with everyone who may be considering participating next year:

  • NaNoWriMo is very much about vomiting words onto the page. Editing comes later.
  • Don’t plan out your novel for months (or even years) prior to starting like I did. You will likely hit a wall that you cannot see through or around and end up pulling your hair out. Allow for some planning but keep the flexibility of letting the characters respond to the situation by asking “what if…?”
  • You will never have enough time to write the 1,667 words per day if you don’t make the time.
  • Its not what you do during NaNoWriMo that makes you a writer but what you do during the other 11 months of the year. If you only write during November at 1,667 words per day, you will only write 50,000 words per year. If you write 500 words per day for the rest of the year, you will write over 165,000! Take your pick.
  • Writing is no fun if you keep it to yourself. Get out, participate in write-ins, find support groups, meet like-minded individuals, talk to your friends and family about what you are writing about. By doing that you will end up finding more inspiration for new content than what you could have on your own.
  • It doesn’t take a NaNoWriMo to do your own writing sprint. You can make your own and hold yourself to it any time you like. Don’t let your creativity cycle be dependent on someone else’s plans.
  • Write lots, read more.
  • Keep a notebook about anything and everything and always keep it with you.
  • Even if you don’t win NaNoWriMo, the words you wrote bring you that much closer to finishing.

Day 4: 4,892

2,494  words written
+ 2,398
   4,892 total words written (Par: 6,666)

Today was a good day. Would have been better if I could have slept in for longer, but I had to call into work early to check in after last night’s event so that I could have the rest of the day off. Tried going back to sleep afterwards but at that point the sky was awake so I was too.

While I drank my morning coffee I played video games for a short bit. After that, I geared up into writing mode. I don’t know when exactly I got started, but I remember looking at the time and seeing that it was only 9am and thinking, “Wow, its still early. It feels like it should be much later already.”

received_10153866454526123I live on the top floor of my apartments and have a respectable patio with a sturdy  steel rail fencing it in. Just so happens that its the perfect size and shape for a hammock… It was a little cooler out this morning so I put on some warm and comfy clothes, grabbed my laptop, and went to writing out in my hammock.

I don’t know how long I was writing for in the hammock but I managed to write 1,732 words. I stopped because I was thirsty in addition to the regular daily goal of 1,667 was my goal to do before I could go out and do anything else. Finishing that, it was time to run a few errands.

Getting back from errands, I relaxed a bit further by putting on an episode of Dark Matter. Netflix, curse you for feeding a binging addiction. Of all months too.. After that, it was time to make cheesecake for a get-together tomorrow with friends.

While I waited for the cheesecake to finish baking, I set a timer for a word sprint and cranked out another 762 words. Thought about trying to do more, but that didn’t really happen. At this point, I am only 1,774 words behind but by midnight tonight it will be 3,441.

Which brings me to the lessons learned for today… Yes, you may have more time the next day to write than you did the last, but the work that you didn’t do only adds on. I overlooked that. Its easy to go, “Oh, I will get to it tomorrow.” Well its tomorrow, and its as unsympathetic as gravity.

Day 3: 2,398

0 words written
+ 2,398
    2,398 total words written (Par: 5,001)

Today I slacked. I slacked a lot but for understandable reasons. At least I think so…

I slept in until 6am (yes! I know! I whole hour!) even though it didn’t really feel like I did, got up and made my coffee. Instead of sitting down and writing though, I plopped down and caught up on some news. That was what I used to do before starting NaNoWriMo.

Went to work which I knew was going to be a short day because we would be having a formal event later that evening. Even though it was a shorter day it was a lot of running around, appointments to be made, and last minute things to get taken care of. After all, it was my last day at work for almost two weeks.

Got off work at 10am, went home, and played video games. I’d been hitting things rather hard both at work and in my personal life so it was good relaxing. Not quite writing relaxing, but the absent-minded I-just-need-to-vegetate-for-awhile kind of relaxing.

Tried putting my daughter down for a nap around 1pm. I napped instead. After that, it was time to start getting things ready to go to my work event which would last the rest of the evening.

By the time I got home, it was a little after 10pm. Yup, no writing would be occurring now. Too tired. But hey, I have the next two weeks of staycationing to catch up.

Lesson of today: It’s okay to take breaks during NaNoWriMo. Yes, you will miss out on the fancy little 30 day badge you can earn, but that is not worth sacrificing your sanity for. Pick your battles where you can wisely and it makes the month and the writing a lot more enjoyable.

Day 2: 2,398

Day 2: 2,398 total words written
Woke up at 5am, hit the snooze for 15 minutes. Got out of bed before my emergency alarm (the really loud and obnoxious one meant to wake the dad) and wrote 554 words before work.
During downtime at work, wrote another 159 words. Somewhat of a busy day.
Got home from work, now I have one of my regular neck pains that escalates into a migraine. Did not accomplish much writing since work. Did watch an interesting documentary on living in Antarctica though… Now I want to go there. Total for today is 713 words.
Yeah, yeah… I realize. What the hell happened today? Life. Life happens, but that’s okay though. I new this would happen early on so I planned a contingency for it…
Next week I will be taking off of work to just relax and do things I enjoy. I haven’t done that in a long while so I deserve it. Want to know what I enjoy doing and relax to? Writing. 11 whole days off of work to do whatever I want, so naturally my word counts I expect will skyrocket. I did do the math, and if I wrote 5,000 words per day, I could get to 50,000 words in just 10 days… but we will see though.

NaNoWriMo Time

Five days until National Novel Writing Month starts. Wow that snuck up fast. As I said before, my intent with the 31 Days of Writing was to gear up and set successful habits to help me during NaNoWriMo. I feel like I have accomplished that.

I have only missed 2 days of posting so far during this month, but I have still managed to write each day. Now though I must turn my focus to my novel project as well as recharge some of my creative juices while I still can.

So it begins.


Where the Wild Ideas Are

One of my problems I encounter every day is taking ideas and making them my own. I see or experience something and rarely am I ever content to just leave it be. I take it, process it, synthesize it, twist it, and make it my own.

We all do this to some degree. Our humor, music choices, clothing styles, our favorite movies… Sadly however, not many of us really take these things and make them our own. We decorate our rooms based off of ideas from Pinterest, we watch movies or TV instead of reading the books and picturing it all for ourselves. In a way, we have become lazy with our imaginations yet we criticize the people who are not. How can you criticize a movie, TV show, a book, or any other imaginative piece when you are not even using your own?

The reason why I started writing was because I still have not seen any of my ideas out there. At the end of the day, the only person that will put them out there is me. Whether I write about them or talk about them, make movies or plays… I have yet to encounter the ignoramus that will say: “Oh! You’re a writer! I have this idea you should write about…” I write about my own ideas, not yours. If you wish to seem them out there, the only one that will make it so is you.

More recently, I think it is ironic how most of the people that you will encounter come off as patronizing as you share some of your ideas with them. The look is similar to how a parent would be listening to their child explain some far-fetched concept that has no basis in reality. They give you this look because that way of thinking was supposed to be stamped out a long time ago when you started becoming a “productive” adult. Either secretly or unwilling to admit to it, they are just jealous.

We get our ideas from that which we surround ourselves with. The people we talk to, the situations we experience, the things we see. Never be afraid to put your spin on another’s idea for then it becomes something completely new and different.