Just keep swimming.
This was what I learned from Week 2+ of nanowrimo. What had been so easy the first week was a struggle the second week. Part of this was probably due to some changes in my outline that I foolishly didn’t take enough time to explore via brainstorming because I was too impatient.
Still the biggest challenge I faced in Week 2 was momentum. Week 1 (7 days) was 14,741 words, and Week 2+ (9 days) was 14,742. In 16 days, I wrote 29,483 words. This is awesome, and I am impressed with myself. It’s still more words than I’m supposed to have at this point, but now I’m in a tough spot. I’ll explain why later in this post.
Pulling the emergency brake on your train of thought kills flow.
This is the downside to writing in the morning when you have to go to work. Sometimes, I’d be right in the middle of a scene, and I’d know where I wanted to go, it was all in my head then, bam. Time to go to work. I’d have enough time to scribble a few notes down about where I was going with it, but by the time I got home, my brain was too exhausted to find that magical place again.
This meant that each morning I was starting in the middle of a scene, not the beginning of one, and this had a big impact on my productivity. I had to write longer in the evenings to approach my word count goal and a few days I didn’t hit those 1,667 words I was aiming for. I had enough cushion from previous days to keep me on track, but it was a frustrating experience. In an ideal world, I’d be able to write until I was ready stop each morning. On the other side of that, writing on weekday mornings gives me a focus and urgency I lack (and desperately need to cultivate) on weekends, precisely because I have a deadline.
So how do I combat this momentum issue? There’s nothing I can do about having to leave for work in the morning. Switching to the evening is out of the question for me because I tried that for a long time and I’ve learned that I get a lot more done in the mornings. I think that taking a few minutes to write notes in my outline before starting a scene would have helped me write faster, reducing the amount of scene left unwritten at the end of a session. I also wish I had reread the whole scene before jumping back in, not just the last few paragraphs and my notes. I don’t care if I wrote those words a few hours ago, I need to get back into the feel of the scene, not just the action. I think I need to do more research on the topic. How do you keep up momentum?
When it comes to writing, even during the whirlwind of nanowrimo, patience and time spent preparing will pay for itself.
Most importantly, I’m a winner.
Yeah, that’s right. Since I’m doing nanowrimo “all wrong,” I even get to win “all wrong,” too. As of November 16th (Okay, full disclosure, I wrote 83 more words of it on November 17th), I’ve finished the first draft of The Ven Hypothesis. Sure it’s only at 72,700 words, but it’s YA, which runs shorter, and it’s a first draft. I tend to write short for my first drafts, based on my extensive past experience: the only other book I’ve finished clocked in around 71, 000 for its first draft. I know that I’ll be rewriting a few scenes, maybe adding some in, and definitely adding in setting descriptions. Setting is one of my first draft weaknesses. I’m not worried that it’s short.
My primary goal for nano was to finish this draft. As far as I’m concerned, this is a win. Without nano dragging me up that Week 2 hill, I probably would have rolled back down (momentum in the wrong direction). I hoped I’d be able to write 40,000 nano words by finishing my draft, but I knew that 50,000 was a long shot, based on what I knew about myself and what was left in my outline. Instead, I didn’t quite hit 30,000. I could stop here, do a victory dance, and let the nano pressure drop. But I’m not going to do that. Except for the victory dance part. That stays.
What will I do for the rest of nanowrimo?
I’m working on the outline for Book 3. Its events immediately follow those of Book 2, so taking my vague ideas and giving them structure and details will be the task of the remaining weeks. Book 2 still needs a lot of work, but Book 3’s outline will give me direction, especially as I go back and give the ending the fixes it desperately needs. The question I’m left with is, can I really get 20,000 more words written this month when I’m outlining? Is this a stupid thing to try? Does it really matter? More on this soon.