Shelley Widhalm

NaNoWriMo: Not the Finish Line

In 52: A Writer's Life, NaNoWriMo, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on December 1, 2013 at 11:00 am

I arrived at the NaNoWriMo finish line on Nov. 29, one day before the end of the 30-day challenge to write 50,000 words in one month.

As of Friday, I wrote 51,004 words in my young adult novel and am about two-thirds of the way through. I estimate that my novel will be 70,000 to 75,000 words and that I’ll finish it before Christmas Day. (I’m continuing NaNoWriMo into December until I reach the end of my very rough draft.)

I got so caught up in meeting my goal, I gave up a few things for the month, such as going out with friends (I went out once to see “Catching Fire” on opening weekend), spending lots of time with my dog, Zoey (she is mad at me), and blogging. I skipped two weeks of blogging despite my goal to blog weekly in 2013.

Anyway, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of writing daily:

• I actually wrote every day, except for five days of the 30, something I never do because I write for a living and come up with lots of excuses.
• I didn’t forget the beginning part of my novel, my character identities or the plot strings after setting aside my draft because I got busy with life and excuses.
• I got excited about writing after work and couldn’t wait to find out what would happen with my plot and characters.
• I focused on word count, instead of on the story elements, and got lost in the writing, so that it felt like I was just typing away without worries about what I was producing. I just didn’t care, because all I cared about was getting to at least 1,600 words each day. Oddly, by not caring, I had more fun and let the characters take over.
• I operated on adrenaline because I had to write my daily dose of 1,600 words, but I could take off a couple days because a few days I wrote 2,000 up to 3,500 words (well, that happened once).

My least productive day was 700 words.

As far as the disadvantages, I can only think of one: I didn’t have time for much else. I made sure I went to the gym every other day – I wanted to be in physical shape for all the time I spent sitting in front of my laptop.

NaNoWriMo is now a yearly mission.

Next time, though, I’m sending my dog to my father’s house, where she’ll have a big back yard for a month. That way I won’t have to feel guilty when I look at her pouty face.

See Zoey’s blog:

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