As many of you have observed, either through my November newsletter or from Instagram, I am taking part in National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo for short. The premise is simple: write a 50k word novel during the month of November.
For something that seems so easy, it's really not. If you write every single day, that averages to about 1667 words per day (about 7 pages of a double-spaced Times New Roman academic paper). So you're essentially writing the equivalent of a college essay . . . every day . . . for 30 days straight. It's mentally and physically exhausting.
I initially had grand plans of waking up at 5 a.m. every day and writing 2,000 words every morning before getting ready for work, thus finishing my novel by November 25 and getting into a envy-inducing morning routine for the champions. What actually ended up happening was me writing barely over the bare minimum every night after work, in between walking Captain, sometimes working out, making dinner, and winding down with some TV or reading.
I have yet to get up on time, 9 days in. I even missed a day entirely of writing to go up and visit my family in Lake Tahoe. I've almost caught back up from doing that, but not quite.
I'll do another blog post in December about how this actually wrapped up, but so far it seems to be going well. I've attempted NaNoWriMo a number of years in the past and never really made it past the first week. Although, given that I am not in a regular writing habit at all, I still wrote more those "failed" years than I would have without the attempt.
Some people have asked me what the book is about. I won't be sharing that publicly yet, but I do appreciate the interest! This is my first big writing project that I will follow through to completion, and at the moment I just want to keep the meat of it to myself. I'll say that it's fictional, but based on a rather big life event for me. Some characters are based on people from my actual life, although all re-named.
I had a friend ask me what's different this time as opposed to every other attempt I've made. I believe it's three-fold: one, I spent October putting an outline together and getting a basic character list and plot together so that I wasn't just staring at a blank Word document come November 1st, wondering what the heck I was going to talk about for 1667 words every day.
Second, I downloaded Scrivener to do my actual writing on. They always have a deal with NaNoWriMo for a trial version geared specifically toward NaNo, which is what I'm using. It tracks your overall word count, your daily word count, and uploads your word count directly to the NaNo site all from the desktop app. I'm a big fan of progress bars and seeing the visual dent I'm making in the word count, so that's been super helpful on days where I could have stopped early.
Third, I've joined writing groups geared specifically toward NaNoWriMo, and actually put together my own. I check in with my word count every day, and get to hear about how others' journey is going. I am a huge believer in accountability, and I actually don't think I have enough of it in most areas of life. I'm a super social person and I'm beginning to realize that the reason I don't have enough discipline or follow-through in a lot of areas is because I don't have a support system in place to keep me motivated when I'm falling off the horse. Two writing groups particularly have been a godsend: the mandated Sacramento Valley NaNo group, as well as the one I created with writing buddies that I've met online.
I highly encourage everyone who's ever considered writing as a career to try NaNo at least once before doing it - you start to realize how self-motivated you are and how much you actually enjoy writing. I also think it's a great way to jumpstart a journaling habit if you've been wanting to start!