Sunday, December 8, 2019

How I Survived NaNoWriMo (Plus a Job and a Move!)

Once upon a time I decided I was done with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I edited a novel, started another. I got a boring job, and then I hit writer’s block. While I eventually managed to finish the project, I thought it would be fun to have some extra motivation while working a fairly new job and we finally moved into a new house.

Back to NaNoWriMo it was!

How have I survived? Well, I’ve always enjoyed a good challenge and employing a few simple steps to cope.

1)     Prepare.

Back in June, I started outlining my next novel. I knew I wanted to write a sci-fi duology, and one of my dear writing friends gave me some tips on the kinds of questions I should be asking for world-building purposes. By the time September came around, I found I still hadn’t made as much progress as I would’ve liked. My characters got names for the most part, but my story wasn’t actually making any progress.

Around mid-October I decided I’d participate in NaNoWriMo. I even started writing a bit ahead of time because I just couldn’t wait, though I have done my best to include only what I’ve written during November in my word count.

2)     Cry.

You guys know I’m kidding, right? Right!?

October 30, two days before the start of NaNoWriMo I went to open my outline and got an error message: “profile corrupt.” What? I wondered. Why now?! After an already super stressful day moving from our lovely rental cottage back into the world’s worst hotel, taking the dog to the vet, and dropping my sister off and picking her up from school, I spent the next three hours on the phone with Microsoft trying to figure out what went wrong with my brand new computer.

We figured something happened during an update that corrupted my main profile, so I had to create a new one to get my Microsoft Office working again. While I didn’t have to take it to a shop or get a new computer entirely, it still meant hours of transferring data again, almost like setting up a new system.

So I cried, took a shower, and went to bed. I felt better the next morning. Not exactly optimistic, but better. It wasn’t until I started my story on November 1st that I felt like I could manage an entire novel again.

3)     Embrace the story.

Forcing oneself to write 50,000 words in a month may not exactly be the road most taken, but honestly writing helps me regulate my emotions. And it’s been so much fun to get excited about a story again! I almost forgot how much fun rough drafts could be, especially since I struggled with my last one.

Sure, I still struggle through some parts—like all those weird transition places in my outline where I’m just like “… and they went… somewhere? (Dear editing self, fix later.)” Yet I enjoy getting back into writing all the same, like that bit where I get excited about a certain part or a line and just have to tell somebody about it. I had forgotten how much fun that is!

4)     Postpone.

We have a house! *SHRIEKS* This may not seem like such a big deal to some people, but I’ve basically been living out of my suitcase since the Camino back in May. That’s nearly seven months. I finally have my sweaters back. And my books! Not to mention I painted my room and got a bearded dragon. Meet Thorin Oakenshield.

And our dog ran away, so I spent five days looking for her. It had been a wild, rather disappointing month. Thankfully, December saw the return of our doggo.

But I digress.

Sometimes life gets in the way of writing. As a result of all the goings ons, I found myself twelve days behind on my NaNoWriMo goals. Even before that happened, I did the calculations of how many words per day I’d need to write in order to keep up and I figured I probably wouldn’t be able to keep up. And that’s okay.

I may not be winning NaNoWriMo anytime soon, but I’m actually writing again, and I’m excited! I look forward to finishing my novel, possibly in December, and later sharing it with the world.


Let’s chat! Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? What are some tips you employ to survive? Any fellow writers who had to push back their goals?

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