Weekly Musing: First 2017 NaNoWriMo Update

Well, we are 11 days into this year’s NaNoWriMo. And so far, this year has been different from previous years which I find fascinating. I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo since 2013, winning each year I participated. In 2013, my first year, I was nervous, terrified. I had one very specific idea I was going to tackle. Within the first few days it became apparent that I wasn’t ready for the original idea, so I switched to writing a novel completely without thought. The following year, I used it to finally complete a rough draft of the novel I’d tried to write the year before. By this time I was far more comfortable both as a writer and with the story. By then I’d learned the novel doesn’t have to be complete in order to win. 2015 saw me once again draft another new idea. 2016 has been the only year I didn’t participate as I was working on a re-write not realizing people used NaNoWriMo for re-writes.

For this year’s NaNoWriMo, I find myself using it for a slightly different purpose than one of its main purposes. During the summer I’d started a novel. Unfortunately, life changes happened to knock me out of my rhythm. Now that things have settled down, what better time and way to hop back on board then November? So, 2017’s effort is being used to re-focus and get back into a schedule.

In order to find my place again in the story, I re-read it without editing or critiquing the chapters done. How I was able to turn off the very aggressive editor part of my brain I’ll never know. I’m surprised I’m even capable of such a thing. To further aid me, I glanced at my incomplete outline to see what my original thoughts were. Oddly enough, I didn’t even attempt to finish it. By now I know it’ll change and I’ll figure out an ending.

Now that I had my bearings, I began. The first day was rough; only approximately 1,460 words written. Below the NaNoWriMo target goal of 1,667 words a day. Reflecting upon my prior experiences, it seems the first day is the most challenging. It’s the added pressure of logging it on the website making someone accountable. If a writer is part of a region, like I am, then everyone in your region can see what you’ve written especially if you post anything on the forums. Though it’s okay however many words people are at, still seeing that tracker is intimidating.

Since I didn’t meet either the NaNoWriMo goal or my personal goal of 2,000 words a day the first day, I pushed myself the next couple of days. The reason why my personal goal is 2,000 words a day is because unlike years past, I have decided to take one day off per week. That’s another difference from prior years. I have finally learned I am not the type of writer who can write seven days a week. I enjoy having a life outside of work and not being cranky every day. This month I’m only a grump six days a week. I’m also sticking hard to writing during a set time while recognizing if I get a later start, that’s okay. I’m still getting the words in.

I view NaNoWriMo as both a sprint and a marathon. What I mean by this is one of the attractive philosophies of NaNoWriMo is its emphasis on writing without stopping to edit. There is a sense of urgency with each word written toward the daily goal. But it is also a marathon with the ultimate goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. As the month goes on, your energy slows down. Primarily because we hit the middle part of our novel and start to experience middle book sag so somehow we need to find the energy to make it to the finish line. Once we reach it, our minds and bodies are exhausted and we’re glad when we finish.

At this point I’m confident I can “win” again. As of when this extra-caffeine-and-unhealthy-amounts-of-sugar-fueled post is published, I should be close to 20,000 words written. I’ll probably do another update toward the end of the month. We’ll see if I’m struggling to get to the finish line or if I buck the trend and have energy. I want to end by saying to everyone out there participating, keep up the awesome work! Keep going even when November is done. Your story is important and so is your voice.

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