What I Learned from NaNoWriMo 2011

This post was supposed to go up yesterday, but I’m still recovering from the charge of the light brigade that took me to 50k. Nothing quite like heading into Day 29 with 13k left to write—sigh.

Rampant stupidity aside, now it’s time to look back over November and see what worked and what didn’t. Hindsight may be 20-20, but I have the memory of a drunken hamster so being able to refer to this post when planning the next NaNo is priceless!

Consistency, I Do Not Haz

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Final Graph

In the month of November I had thirteen days in which I wrote no words at all and four days in which I wrote less than the 1,667 required. Thus I’m batting 0.4333 overall in terms of meeting my daily NaNo goals.

On the good side, I had seven days that clocked in over 3k and three that clocked in over 5k. I learned that I can consistently write 300 words in a five minute wordwar and as long as I have an idea of where it’s going in the plot, it’s good prose (and if not, I end up with vignettes that are good for DVD extras).

But in theory NaNo is supposed to teach us that working a little bit every day leads to great things—and instead I learn that I can procrastinate and still win. Sigh.

Location, Location, Location

There's a desk in here somewhere...

Looking back, the driving reason for not doing the evening writing that I had planned on can be dumped squarely in the lap of ‘failing to prioritize.’ As much as I was looking forward to NaNo I didn’t setup a specific plan about when I was going to be writing. Thus I wrote at the write-ins… and not much else.

So instead of coming home and getting some words out, I came home and crashed on the couch with my laptop. In theory I was going to write words and in practice I was distracted by the TV and all the shiny bits of the interweb.

I did have a writing desk, one I cleared off for the express purpose of writing. Did I use it during NaNo? Not even once. And to be honest, I have no real idea why—it was a nice desk, no clutter, it even had the bigger laptop which was easier to type on. *confused*

Other NaNo’ers = WIN

The one very important thing I learned this NaNo was that it is a hundred thousand times easier to write when you have someone to write with. I accomplished more in the write-ins and plot-ins that I could have imagained and I got to meet some kick-ass new friends along the way.

The whole reason I won this year is because of them, if I didn’t have people cheering me on and reminding me to Never Give Up™ I think I would have thrown in the towel around week three. It’s too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day insanity of life and having other folks there that were fighting the same kinds of battles was invaluable.

Paying it Forward

If the best thing about NaNo is the write-in comradery, then that’s something worth putting effort into.

I may not be healthy/organized enough to be a Municipal Liaison by myself, but Chris has thrown her hat in the ring and I’m dedicating myself to being the best Minion an ML could have! NaNoWriMo is an awesome event and I’m going to go everything in my power to make next year (or next Camp) just as much fun as this year was.

Mass * Velocity

As mentioned above, I never really got into the whole ‘do a little everyday’ mindset, but just because November is over doesn’t mean I have to give up on that goal. So I’m taking today to pause and adjust and tomorrow I’m going to keep going.

I still think this was a good plan, so every morning I’ll wipe the slate clean and try again.

And who knows, maybe next November I’ll just be upping the cruise control and not trying to floor it from a dead start…

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!