It’s the end of November, and that means the end of NaNoWriMo! Technically, as it’s not yet midnight, I could still keep going with my story and write this post tomorrow, but… let’s face it, I’m not going to miraculously reach my target in two and a half hours.
That’s right. I didn’t reach it. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was aiming for 20,000 words this time round, after my massive fail in 2010. My total word count thus far? 12,062 words. Twelve thousand! That’s more words than I’ve written in the past year! So even though I didn’t reach my target, I did hit the ten thousand mark, which has made me extremely happy.
I do have a confession to make, though. *whispers* I rewrote. I know, I know. NaNoWriMo is about writing now and editing later. But I realised about 5,000 words in that I’d started my story at the wrong place, and I just couldn’t continue without starting fresh and beginning where I really should have begun my story in the first place: about a week earlier. Granted, it was such a big rewrite that I’ve probably only recycled one to two thousand words, so… I didn’t really cheat, did I?
I’m really glad I tried NaNoWriMo again this year, even though I didn’t reach my target. I learnt quite a few things about myself that will help me in the future as a writer:
Psst. That’s my notebook. I decided to go A4 this time round, too.
Paper > Computer
I become far too distracted, far too easily, if I’m writing on the computer. I type a lot faster than I write, but when you combine the distractions of Skype, Facebook, and the Internet in general, my writing pace suffers (read: reduces to nothing). Writing on paper allows me to focus because, well, there’s nothing to look at except my notebook and my pen. Which leads me to my next point…
Place Laptop in Inconvenient Location
Every writer does some research at some point. One of those points is going to be while you’re writing. I’d wager most writers also find research very distracting: I’ll look up A, only to get dragged into B, and then C, and then two hours later it’s time to go to bed. When I’m writing at my desk, I place my laptop next to me on the bed. ‘Well, that’s not very inconvenient,’ you say, but what you don’t realise is that everytime I need to use my laptop I don’t move it back onto my desk: I access it by bending over while still sitting on my chair, which isn’t very comfortable, so it’s not long before I stretch, realise I was done researching a few minutes ago, and get back to writing.
You Do Have Time!
My favourite excuse is that I don’t have enough time to write. Well, it turns out I do have time, because I’m not a student anymore and, really, it’s quite possible to finish dinner by 8pm with plenty of time to write. It’s even possible to write after going out on a weekday and arriving home at 10pm, if you really put your mind to it (and don’t mind slight sleep deprivation the next day).
Quantity vs. Quality
I’m a bit of a perfectionist. When writing on a computer, I tend to edit while I write a lot, which doesn’t work out so well for me because I end up writing off a lot of what I wrote, spending hours agonising over wordings when I really should be writing more and moving the plot along. Which isn’t to say quality doesn’t matter, because I’m not averse to ripping a page out and rewriting it every once in a while, but… stop rereading, and get going! I’m going to type it up on the computer later anyway; I’ll do my editing then. Let’s get a draft done first, at least.
My average writing speed. This is very helpful, because it will allow me to set realistic goals for myself in the future. Again, word count isn’t everything, and quality does matter, but you aren’t going to get a book if all you do is edit instead of writing.
Possibly a Late Night Writer
I’m not 100% sure of this. But there have been times when I dedicated whole days to writing, only to have days not be very productive and nights almost twice as productive. I think I also write more quickly later in the night, but that might just be because by that point I’m in a writing zone. Will explore this more next month.
Why Only During NaNo?
Why indeed? I wrote more during November than I did for the past year. I admit it is easier to concentrate for a short period of time on doing something intensely (I ended up staying at home to write rather than just chilling at a friend’s on several occasions, and didn’t make any effort to go away on weekends so I had time to write), but I plan on giving myself monthly goals from now on, rather than my previous mindset of “I’ll write when I have time”.
And lastly? I always discover this when I start writing again after a period of inactivity: why did I stop? Again and again, I realise how much I love writing, and again and again I wonder why I stopped.
Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? Did you reach your goal? Did you, like me, learn some things about yourself? I’d love to hear about them, and share in your celebrations of reaching 50,000 words (or whatever your goal was) or commiserating your, um, failure. Sorry. I couldn’t think of a different way of putting it.