NaNoWriMo didn’t really sneak up on me this year. Not really.
After all I knew it was coming. But I was spending the month of October trying to throw together the first issue of a magazine. If it weren’t for the awesome submissions and help of a certain Gnome, Fairy, and Sprite, October could have been a very stressful time. As it is, I was still a little stressed come the 29th and 30th, but I’m proud of what we accomplished.
The 31st, of course, was spent fixing every little thing that I didn’t realize needed fixing on the 30th.
All of this is really just to say that I didn’t have a lot of time before November to plan anything for NaNoWriMo. I knew it was coming, I knew I wanted to do it, I just didn’t think about it at all.
Generally speaking, that didn’t bother me. My first successful NaNo wasn’t planned at all (and, well, you can tell that by reading the actual manuscript). The last 5,000 words were all written on November 30 that year, and were considerably different from what I really had planned — my hero turned into a dragon and killed most of his companions, including his best friend since he was, you know, born. when he finally changed back he moped a few days, then put on a full set of plate armor and jumped off a bridge.
Shakespeare it was not, but it was finished.
The next year I was considering not doing it at all. But then I was chatting on IRC with some fellow writers and I had this idea bouncing around in my head about forced marriage and I spat out a plot over the course of about half an hour which turned into 50,000 words — which I finished nearly a week early.
After that I decided having an outline was a good idea. It was easier and more fun to do. It was also a much better story. Still needed a lot more work, but that’s kind of the idea, isn’t it? It was a first draft, not a completed novel. First drafts always need work. I was kind of proud of it.
I’ve started NaNo a couple times since then. The Walls of God got through introducing the conflict and the four most important characters. I had direction, and I was doing world building along the way as inter-chapter passages “quoted” from ancient histories in the world. I still kind of like that and I intend to write it. I don’t remember what distracted me that year, but I only got to about 10k words.
Two years ago I started a superhero story with character names pulled from a John Mellencamp song. I still love the characters. The problem that year was employment. As in, on November 1 I was unemployed, and figured that was a good time to write 50k words. I got a job offer a few days later, though, and I decided that my first weeks on a new job were a bad time to try to write that much. Jaq and Dianne still bounce around, but something just doesn’t work for me with the book and I haven’t figured out what it is. I don’t consider it on the back burner, so much, but I haven’t worked on it in a long time because I don’t know what I’m doing.
Last year I was sulking or something so didn’t even try.
So I figured this year was time for my triumphal re-entry.
As I said, October was pretty much useless for outlining for me. I have my paying job and my spare time was spent working on QFT (and yes, Skyrim, but I’m not going there). So November 1 I started knocking my head together with the Clockwork Gnome to work out what my plot was. My last post explained the seed of my idea, so I had something to start with. I was ready to jump in on November 2.
Except on November 2 is when one of my managers asked when I could have a project done. I told him “Monday close of business.”
“We wanted to test on Monday.”
“Uh… I can work on Saturday?”
So that killed November 2 and November 3.
So I made a decision. I can lose one day. Heck, I will lose days. I’m too ADLASO! (Attention Deficit Look! A Shiny Object!) to not count on that.
But three days, at the beginning when my motivation and excitement are at their height? That do not fly, Hoss.
But I’m not giving up. I’m altering the deal.
In NaNoWriMo you need to average 1,667 words a day (50,000 words / 30 days = 1,666.6 (repeating) words a day — if you’re writing “something” you can stop at “someth” but it’s easier to write the whole word). It’s a number I adjust to a daily goal of 2000 because I very frequently don’t write at all on Sundays (I claim it’s a religious exemption, but actually it’s more about me being distracted by the need to slay virtual dragons).
I missed three days of productivity. 1,667 words x 3 days = 5,001 words I had to make up. I could distribute that over 27 days (5,001 words / 27 days = 185 words; add that to the 1,667 words already needed and you get 1,852 words per day. Except I’ll still take 4 days off, probably. So really you need to take the total (50,000 words), divide it by 23 (30 days in November, less three days lost less four Sundays) to get a daily average of 2,173 words.
Yes, math is one of the ways I procrastinate. I have to know how many pages are in any book I read so I can keep track of what fraction of the book I’ve read and where the major milestones are for 1/3, 1/4, 1/10, etc. (I’m 90% through Fight Club as of this morning’s commute, by the way — 218 pages with 19 left, rounded to a convenient “round” number — and that means I will probably take a bathroom break before noon to finish it).
Digressions aside, 2,000 words a day is about my highest reasonable daily goal. I let the numbers intimidate me after that. 2,000 is kind of intimidating, actually. It’s like playing on nightmare mode for me. I can beat it, but it’s tough. That’s another reason I use that as the goal. You’ve got to stretch or the goal is worthless. But it means that 2,173 scares me. I can’t do that.
So I’m choosing an alternate solution. Those 5,000 (rounded) words I missed? Forgiven. My November goal is 45,000. It won’t get me a shiny medal on nanowrimo.org but it will be sufficient for me to know I finished. I will know I worked as hard as any other poozer out there.
But that means I need to get my butt in gear. Because I still haven’t written the first word down and it’s day 5 now.
So, break’s over. For you too. Get writing.