As many of you know I am taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. This is my second year and as excited as I was to get started I was also quite apprehensive. Last years experience was not the best, I had never done it before and so I wasn’t sure what to expect and I got really frustrated with myself throughout the month. This year has been a completely different experience for me and something really positive!
I’d like to explore the differences a little not only for me to see for myself how far I’ve come but also to help any of you lovely participants who might be going through a similiar experience to my 2015 experience. This could be a bit of a long one so I have split it into sections feel free to read the whole thing or skip to the sections you want to know more about. So without futher a-do here’s my 2015 Vs 2016 experiences.
No Plan Vs Months of Planning:
So last year I didn’t really have a plan just a basic idea. I thought that idea would be enough to work with but by day 6 I’d barely written a thing and I was really struggling. I decided to change to another idea that I also hadn’t planned, at first I started flying through but then I hit a wall that it would eventually turn out I’d never knock down and move past. This year I have been planning my novel since December 2015, I have not sat down and done this all at once I have spaced it out throughout the months but in my journal I have worked on all the finer points of my plot my world building and my protagonists. I also had another idea back in June to do a non-fiction book about my experience with anxiety which would be told in anecdotes, memories, scenes, discussions and poetry and I planned this one by emailing myself topic ideas whenever one popped into my head then putting them in a sub folder of my email account. I didn’t read through these plans for either project throughout the year as I didn’t want to over think it and I’ve found this has really helped for me.
No Confidence Vs Bursting with Pride!:
Last year I had no faith in my ideas. I think I was so rusty from writing that I was filled with self doubt from the very start. I was looking at the people around me who were also taking part and comparing myself constantly to those which just made me doubt myself more. This year I decided to start with the non-fiction idea and only move onto the novel if/when I finished. I have read a few similar books about other mental illness’ etc and so I had quite a bit of confidence in my idea and concept and not only that but it was easy for my to write as it was coming from a place of truth. It was something I knew about and I knew it couldn’t be wrong or flawed because it is my own experience. I finished this project at just over 18,000 words on November 5th and allowed myself to move onto my other idea. I was really nervous at first about how much my word count would slow down but as soon as I started writing I found I didn’t care how slow I got through it because this was a book I wanted to write!
Editing Vs Zoom Zoom Zoom
Another big difference is that last year I didn’t take any notice of the advice given by most people which is DO NOT EDIT, leave it for future you to sort out. I was constantly looking over what I had written and wanting to go back and re-write massive sections. This year before November I tried to give myself a stern talking to no editing! I haven’t completely listened to myself as I have changed sentences or words I didn’t like into italics but I haven’t been re-reading hundreds of times over and changing whole paragraphs and it has helped me no end I know now when it comes to the second draft that the italics need to come out completely and I have also left edit notes as I go. If I’m not convinced by a scene or decision etc I ad “EN:” and then an extremely brief sentences about what needs looking at next time. This helps me get it out of my head so it’s not on my mind driving me crazy and it will help future me when editing. When talking with my brother I have said to him that I am treating this as a skeleton; I will build the bones up so it is capable of standing on it’s own and that will be draft 1. Draft two will be adding the meat/muscle to “flesh it out” as it were. and draft 3 is to add the skin and make it look pretty and I think this is going to work for me.
Wasting Time Vs Making Time:
Last year I spent a lot of time switching ideas, editing but also I took a lot of time out to watch TV, read books and basically procrastinate like a pro! This year I knew I was writing to win so I scheduled all of my November and December blog posts in October I made peace with the fact I probably wouldn’t finish a book in the month and I wrote out a schedule so that I would get enough time in my day to write before vegging out and watching TV. I booked the 1st & 2nd of November off work so I could get a head start and I booked half a day 25th & a full day 28th so I had a long weekend at the end of the month to knuckle down if I was behind. On work days I looked at where I could fit the time to write and I chose an hour before work, an hour at lunch and an hour on an evening which was basically my reading times to get some work done. For the majority of the month so far I have been able to stick to this but I think it would’ve been harder if I wasn’t so enthused by my ideas.
Strict Order Vs CHAOS!
This is probably my biggest breakthrough! I am a woman who loves strict order, at work they literally call me the Process Princess because you better believe this girl does everything by the book in the order the book was written. When it comes to writing I have always been a stickler for doing it chapter to chapter no exceptions. This year however is total and utter chaos! I have been brainstorming scene ideas and writing them when in a lull even if it doesn’t follow on from the chapter I have just written. This I’ve found really works for me and I couldn’t be happier doing it this way. When it comes to the second draft what I will do is print it out and number the chapters then on post it notes or index cards I will write down the chapter number and a brief outline of what happens that way I can lay them out in from of me and move them around to form a fluent order. This is a tip I found by watching video’s by Jessica Reads and Writes and The Book Leo (click their channel names for the videos).
Distraction Vs Letting it Go:
Last year the biggest issue for me was that I was distracted by other ideas and so I was never really focused on anything for long enough to make it work. This year I already knew I had two contending ideas I wanted to work on and so before November I decided which one would take priority and promised myself I’d stick to that. I have done this quite successfully but not only that I’ve noticed the more I write the more ideas for other books are popping up in my little brain box. I have made a note of all these ideas in my journal with the basic concept and then shut the book straight away. Those ideas will be there in December and that’s what I have to keep reminding myself.
Behind Vs Ahead!:
And the biggest achievement between my two experiences so far is that last year I did not win and I have 2 unfinished projects from that. I only managed 18,257 words in the whole 30 days. This year as of last night (12th November) I have managed 35,207 words and I’m 15,203 words ahead of schedule. I think this has been because of all the things I’ve discussed above but I think it is probably mostly down to the fact I am passionate about my idea! I’ve had some self doubting moments but my brother and friends who are also taking part have really pulled me through those moments.
What have your previous NaNo experiences been like?
How are you finding things this year?
What’s your word count so far?