I’ve got to say, failing nanowrimo this year was pretty rewarding. I only did a week’s worth of actual writing, but I’ve done a lot of book and writing related tasks that were absolutely necessary, so I have no regrets. Here’s the wrap up of what I learned.
Final word count for the month (all completed in the first week): 14,131
The momentum and pressure to maintain a high daily word count was stressful. I don’t think I could have kept this pace up for a month without feeling burned out. I did about 2K words a day that first week, and I spent all of my spare time writing. I felt frantic on days where I didn’t have as much time to write.
2. Bad Writing
My writing was lower quality than usual. I know the general advice is to get the words down and edit them later, but I’m a very slow editor. I felt like I was writing description and dialog because I needed to get words down, not because they would move my characters and plot forward. Some people are used to writing like this. They get to the end of their first draft and have to cut a bunch of words. I’m the opposite. I usually have to add 5K-10K words, so having that much padding was really upsetting to me.
3. Planning Days
I need to build in days to modify and adjust my writing plan. My outline for this project was a little rushed. I spent most of October working on The Island Experiment in order to have it ready for my editor, so I didn’t have as much time to mentally process and rework my nano outline. I also found Book 4, my nano project, very hard to plot out compared to my other books.
Once nano started, I felt like I had no time to really sit down and work out the story problems I encountered because I had to keep writing. Or else. Ahhhh!!! This was a horrible feeling, and I think I’m going to have to rewrite or cut most of what I wrote in that week. It was still useful for me, but it served more as an exploratory writing exercise than anything else.
1. Going with the Flow
I enjoyed the writing flow and the sense of purpose I felt. It felt good to focus on one specific task. I was totally focused the story and I spent a lot of time thinking about it, even when I wasn’t actively writing.
I found having a daily/monthly goal to hit very motivating, especially since it felt so achievable. I didn’t want to stop and work on my publication checklist, but I knew going into nano that The Island Experiment would take priority once I got it from the editor.
2. Challenge Extended
I got a better idea of my capabilities and limitations. One day I will actually win nanowrimo. I’m going to use this experience to push myself to write faster in finite intervals of time, though I’ll probably add in a few rest days. I think 45-60 days is probably a good pace for me at this point. I would still be pushing myself, but I wouldn’t feel rushed.
Even though nano is over, I’m going to set my own short term daily writing goals and see if I can knock this draft out within 60 days. Once The Island Experiment is published, I’ll sit down and write up a schedule for myself and put my novel bullet journal back to work.
Overall, I’m happy. To be clear, my issues with writing so quickly are definitely my own. Plenty of writers can write clean drafts quickly, and I know I can write faster, too. Most importantly, I completed a lot of publication tasks for The Island Experiment, including final edits, blurb writing, and formatting. These tasks weren’t glamorous, but they were necessary. I’m still adding the finishing touches, then I’ll put it up for pre-order. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I’m excited to turn it over to my readers.