Iâ€™d love to hear more about how you commit to nanowrimo every year â€“ how you make time while balancing family, work, etc., what motivates you to keep going, and how itâ€™s different from your writing practice the rest of the year!
This is my second year of NaNoWriMo and before making the final decision to go for it this year, I asked my family if they’d support me in my efforts. Â They said ‘yes’, the requirement being that I be available for family dinners and bedtime stories and not become a total wreck in the process. Â It was up to me to figure out what time slice I could devote to writing. Â Getting the support of my wife and Elder Spawn meant they’d help me to the extent they were able in facilitating that time. Â Last year that was a lot harder to manage, this year it went a lot more smoothly. Â I also got a lot of encouragement from other WriMos and I made an effort to reach out more than I did last year. Â I got a lot of great cheer leading help from other writers and friends. Â That was especially important during the middle of the month, especially week two. Â Week two is a notoriously difficult week for NaNoWriMo, the initial rush has worn off and you start having to work a bit harder to come up with energy and inspiration.
I also found a new way to get support and have fun this year: Â I posted excerpts of the novel here on Butchtastic. Â The first time I did it, it was spontaneous: Â I was excited and wanted to share how well things were going and also thought getting a little feedback would be nice. Â I got such a great reaction, I kept doing it, almost daily. Â Deciding which portion of my daily output to share became a bit of a game, especially when some readers got caught up in the story and begged to know ‘what happens next!’. Â Not only did this help keep me inspired and excited about the project, it helped get people excited about the upcoming novel. Â It also served to show me that I was writing in a way that sucked people in, that got people invested in the characters. Â And since that’s one of my big goals for the novel, it was great encouragement to receive.
Going into this year’s challenge, I wanted to get a feel for what kind of pace I could sustain from December onward, knowing that 50k words wasn’t going to be enough for the novel I have in mind. Â During November, with a few exceptions, I wrote about 2,000-3,000 words a day. Â Writing sessions happened mostly at night, after dinner, but especially after my youngest had gone to bed. Â So between 9 pm and 11 pm, I’d write the bulk of that day’s 2,000 words.
Based on that and knowing that I’d want time for non-writing evenings – time to read and socialize and vegge out in front of the TV or do other projects – I figured 5,000 words every 5 days would be doable in post-NaNoWriMo months. Â That’s compared to the 5,000 words every 3 days that the NaNoWriMo challenge requires to stay on pace.
This being my second year taking on the challenge, I was better prepared mentally and definitely had a much better time. Last year I wallowed around with a bunch of different ideas and ended up with a seed potato of at least three different story ideas. Â I struggled a lot, some days I barely got through 1,667 words. Â A couple of days I remember just writing about how I didn’t have anything to write about. Â This year I had a solid story to work from, a novel that I’d already started (yes, I was a cheater) and was eager to continue.
My novel-in-progress, Guys Like Us, started from a short story, Asphalt. Â The main character, Buddy, has been in my head ever since. Â Starting last spring, I had been writing chapters, scenes and character sketches and plot points. Â I had a pretty good base of these milestone moments for my story and going into November (after not doing novel writing for a few months), I was raring to go. Â And so was the story. Â It was like breaking a dam and releasing a flood. Â Once I started writing, Buddy took over. Â All I had to do was hang on and keep up with the flood of words. Â We went back to the beginning, back to childhood and worked our way up to high school. Â There is a pivotal moment that happens not too long after high school graduation and I was consciously building up to that moment, working on justifying that plot point. Â Along the way, I was introduced to more and more characters. Â The process of discovery as I’m writing is pretty amazing, a bit of magic. Â When Sarah May came into the story, I was just looking for a quirky best friend for Buddy, someone to illustrate the oddball circle of friends he had in high school. Â What I ended up with was a very distinct individual, with her own voice and mannerisms, a full person who is very clear in my head when I write her.
The more I can submerge myself into a story, the more that kind of thing happens. Â It feels less and less like something I’m creating, more and more like something I’m channeling. Â That’s what I love about writing. Â That’s my high.
My main goal with NaNoWriMo this year was to get a solid block of writing done for the novel and I accomplished that. Â Another goal was to explore the relationship between Buddy and Desiree and to get clear in my head how it started and work towards its eventual end in a way that made sense. Â I needed to spend some time fleshing out Buddy’s childhood, his family of origin and school experiences in order to build logically to what we seen happening in Asphalt. Â Those goals were definitely met.
I was also looking to establish a sustainable writing pace. Â I still think 5,000 words every 5 days is doable, but I haven’t done it yet. Â This thing called Dirty December happened, but even more, the holidays started happening. Â December is a busy month for social activities and my job has also been taking its toll.
Going forward…. Â What I want to do next for the novel is to pull everything I have into Scrivener (purchased at a 50% discount thanks to my NaNoWriMo winner status) and start to organize it into a novel-like shape. Â I have a pretty good idea of how I want to structure it now and it would be good to see how close I am to having all the pieces I want. I’ believe that even with the 54,000 words I wrote in November and the stuff I wrote earlier in the year, I might be as much as 50,000 more words away from having the full block of material to carve my novel out of. Â My goal is to have a manuscript for a select group of readers and proofreaders midway through next year. Â I know who those people are for the most part, though I might want a couple more contacts with professional experience. Â I haven’t decided between self-publishing and shopping for a publishing company, but I’m leaning toward attempting the latter first and using the former as a fall back.
Once the holiday season is over and I can settle back into our normal busy schedule (rather than the crazy hectic one we have going now), I’m going to get back to my 5k per 5 days pace and get into the flow of the story again. Â I’m not too worried about getting back into the flow because I can still feel and hear it in my head. Â It hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s just waiting for me to get back to it.
Meridith, I hope this answers your questions, if not, you know where to find me 😉
This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported license.