NaNoWriMo and How It Worked Out for Me

You may recall I wrote previously about how NaNoWriMo could be a useful tool for pros, and wasn’t just something for amateurs. Well, I did it. As of November 23, I had written 50,000 words.

Apparently while Scrivener counts hyphenated words as two words, NaNoWriMo only counts them as one. That took the wind out of my sails!

Apparently while Scrivener counts hyphenated words as two words, NaNoWriMo only counts them as one. Sure took the wind out of my sails!

So here’s how it worked out for me.

I had been stagnant in writing, unable to get words out or finish a story. I was stuck, and it had nothing to do with writing itself and everything to do with my stupid head. Fear of writing poorly kept me from writing at all. But with NaNoWriMo, the point isn’t to write well. The point is to write and worry about ‘well’ tomorrow. Forcing myself to sit down and write 2,000 words every day (with an extra push on that last day, as you can see by the image, in order to beat NaNoWriMo so I could go to a party the next day) was the right way to go to fix this problem.

The first few days were easy. I had ideas of what I wanted to write, and where the book was going to go. The first 10K poured out naturally, barely any struggle. But, as expected, a few days in, somewhere around the 15K mark, things began to get difficult. It’s like any kind of training: easy at first, but once you burn the reserves of energy you have, the real work begins. Like lifting weights or working your way up to running some length of marathon.

However, as days went by, a sick realization crept up on me: this book wasn’t working. At 15K, things slowed down. At 20K the words finally left my mouth. “This isn’t working.” (A lot of swearing followed that phrase.) It was at 25K when I finally bit the bullet and said no, absolutely not, this scifi book simply wasn’t going to work. Not the way I’m writing it, not the way it’s going.

From there, I was left with a dilemma: do I push on with a not-working book to see if I could make it work? I did that for awhile, after all; that’s how I got from 20K to 25K. Or do I accept the book isn’t working, scrap it, and start over? Ultimately, I chose the latter, and it was for the best. And thankfully, due to the intense writing schedule I’d established, I hadn’t wasted months of effort on a book that wasn’t working. Just two weeks. In the grand scheme of things, I felt like I hadn’t wasted much to discover a book wasn’t working and to shift to a new project.

So now, it’s December. What am I left with?

I have 20K of a usable new manuscript (horror, apparently) that is working (at least for now) and another 5K in notes for where the book should go or where I misstepped in the draft and need to go back and rework it. I’m not writing at my breakneck 2K/day speed, because it’s December and the holidays make a stringent writing schedule challenging. But I’m still working at it, and still making notes about fixing what exists and what should be done in the book. And I don’t know that I’d be here without having done NaNoWriMo.