Hello friends! Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed my fanfiction novel while I was gone. It feels like forever since I’ve written a regular post, and yet I also haven’t had a day off from writing in weeks. I also hope you had a wonderful November! Did you participate in NaNoWriMo too? How did you do? Did you create a new world from scratch? Make any progress on an old story? Start and stop a bunch of stories or novellas? Did any of the prompts on this blog kickstart a new novel or help get you through a lull? Whatever you did, I’m sure it was great! If you wrote at all, you are a winner in my book!
Speaking of winning, this was my seventh year participating in NaNoWriMo and I am proud to report that for the very first time, I WON! Huzzah!
It took me 29 days and 1 hour, but I wrote 50,000 words before the end of November. There were a lot of struggles along the way, and there’s a lot more to the story to be written, but I did it! It’s been more than a day now and I still can’t really believe it. There were moments of doubt when I couldn’t build a big enough buffer or fell behind, but at the end of the day, I got my writing done every day and hit my target with time to spare.
Looking back at this month’s journey, it was very much fraught with obstacles. I hit them every year, especially with work, but this year I took the final week off from work to give myself a buffer for any overtime that crept up in the first three weeks. Which, it invariably did.
The very first day was ominous, but I didn’t let it deter me. After spending all night in cosplay handing out candy to the neighborhood kids and watching football, eating candy and getting caffeinated, I did some last minute prep work to get ready to kick off NaNo 2019 right at midnight on November 1st. (I had also taken that as a personal day so I could write late into the night and sprint out as far ahead as possible that first Friday.)
At midnight, I sat down at my computer and fired up Scrivener and Pandora. I pulled up a tab with my novel’s Pinterest board to have a setting reference for my opening scene handy. The wind was howling outside and the lights flickered. My computer rebooted. I cursed as I waited for it to turn back on and get everything open again. Before it could finish, everything went black again. And stayed off. It was 12:10am.
There I was, overstimulated, wind whistling through the trees and through my attic in the dead silent that only comes with no ambient electric sounds, in the pitch dark, cursing the writing gods for allowing my NaNo to begin this way. My husband went down to the basement to get the camping lantern and bring it upstairs. I put it at the kitchen table and pulled out a notebook and a pen. Maybe I wouldn’t get 2k before passing out as I had planned, but I was going to write something. Luckily I had recently put a bunch of music on my phone, so even though it was in max power saving mode (I had just thrown it on the charger 10 minutes before the power went out), I could have tunes while I wrote.
I wrote about a page before giving up and going to bed at 230am. Even with the music, the wind was very eerie and distracting and I couldn’t focus. The lights coming back on at 6am startled me awake. My husband had been downstairs bailing out the sump every couple hours to try and spare the basement from excess water. With the power back, the pump could run and he could get ready for work. I went back to sleep until 10 or 11am and then was mad at myself for wasting all that time when I should have been up writing. I ended Day 1 with “only” 2370 words, but it was a bit ahead of pace, so I didn’t beat myself up too bad over it.
Over the next week (really, the next month), I spent most of my evenings as I was already used to spending them, writing for a couple hours before bed. The biggest difference was the word count. To stay on target, I needed to write 2.5-3x what I normally wrote for my blog posts in the same time frame. I started participating in word sprints with other Wrimos on Twitter.
What a world of difference it made. By breaking up my writing session into bite-sized chunks and knowing I had other writers across the world “at my side,” doing the same thing, it became much more conceivable to write 1700 words in two-ish hours. They worked best when I had a general idea of where the immediate scene needed to go, and I could put aside my distractions while sprinting. Plus, having the encouragement of other writers, and encouraging them in return, made it that much more attainable.
Speaking of other writers and personal encouragement, I spent the first three Mondays at the local bookstore in the town where I work. My regional NaNo group met there for a couple hours and I was very excited to get to write with them again. I even got my friend to join me for the second and third weeks. (The last Monday of the month I had taken off from work so I wasn’t out that way, and then I also rewarded myself for reaching my daily goal by having a date night with my husband to see Frozen 2. But I digress.)
I ended the first week 450 under par, but that was easy to make up. That was easily two short 10-20 minute sprints or a 30 minute sprint. (I started thinking about word counts by sprints.) Week 2 was more consistent. If I fell a few hundred short on any weekday, I made up for it and got ahead over the weekend. I was never a full day or more behind.
Until Week 3. That was when some unexpected over time came to me at work. On the 19th, my customer invited me on a business day trip to one of our other sites. It’s a three hour drive. I could have declined, but I did want the opportunity to meet the members of the other teams I interact with and am in daily conference calls with. It was nice to get to have a face for the names and voices I email/hear every day. Plus, my old boss is up there now and I got to see him for a couple minutes and say hi.
The downside was that it was a very long, exhausting day. We left at 5am to be there for an 830am meeting and didn’t leave there until 3pm. Before I could go home, we had to get gas for the rental and then I still had to get gas for my car and pick up dinner. It was after 7pm by the time I pulled back into my driveway after leaving it at 430am. I ate my dinner on the couch and watched part of a movie with my husband, realized I still had some energy reserves, and decided to try and get some writing done anyway. I did not get very far in the hour I sat at my desk. I got a few hundred words written-it wasn’t a zero day-but I fell a full day behind for the first time all month.
That was a Tuesday, and the fatigue lingered for the rest of the week, pushing me further behind little by little. Thankfully, I just had to get through 3 more days before I would be on vacation and have plenty of time to rest and get caught up. I managed to narrow the gap on Saturday morning before heading to my mother’s for an early Sunday Thanksgiving dinner. By the following Tuesday, I was back on par, with a few hundred word buffer.
Wednesday was tricky because we were traveling again, this time to WNY to spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. I spent the last couple hours in the backseat with my laptop, writing while he drove, getting about half of my daily words written in that time. I got the rest before bed, so I was still on pace. I fell behind again on Thursday because, well, it was a holiday and we were visiting with family all day long. But Friday I did the same thing on the way home as I did on the way out: wrote in the car after we stopped for lunch.
I had two days left to write 4300 words. The end was within sight. If I could just get to 48k or 49k before bed on Friday, I could finish Saturday afternoon. I decided 3k would do it. I settled into my desk and popped over to the NaNoSprints Twitter account and started sprinting. I watched my words add up (and my remaining words tick down). By midnight, I was at 49,190. I had less than one thousand words to write to meet my goal. I could go to bed and churn that out in the morning.
Or I could keep my momentum going. People were still sprinting. Winners were being announced and encouraging others who were close. And I was so close. So I kept plowing through. I wrote another 846 words between 12-1am. I had written 4300 words in less than 12 hours. I broke that 50k threshold with 23 hours to spare.
I stared at the progress bar for a few minutes after updating my word count. I had really done it. After 6 failed attempts, I had finally cracked 50k in 30 days or less. But most importantly, I did not give up. And I had a new novel that was taking shape and that I was enjoying and can’t wait to finish. I have new characters that I love to pieces and can’t wait for you all to meet.
I spent most of yesterday in a daze. I went shopping in the afternoon. I started getting caught up on shows I’d missed while writing (season 3 of The Dragon Prince was SO GOOD YOU GUYS). Through all of it though, in the back of my mind, I kept wondering: now what?
In the last prompt I did back in the middle of October, I said the prompts would be back in December. I haven’t changed my mind about that, but I am thinking I won’t jump right back into them immediately. Despite taking time off from the blog while I prepped for NaNo and the interim hiatus, I still haven’t technically had a day off from writing in months.
I hate leaving the blog without new posts for any stretch of time, and I might still do another freestyle post later this week to talk about Awakening in a quasi “Behind the Scenes” type post, but I desperately need a break. (She says, knowing full well she’ll probably still end up in a Word doc or Scrivener project against her better judgment.) I want to do some reading and sink my teeth back into a new video game I got right before NaNo started. And I should really spend some time with my husband. He was very supportive of me during NaNo, encouraging me when I needed it and leaving me alone for the rest of it. I wasn’t a total recluse, but some more frequent quality time is overdue.
I’m going to tentatively say our regularly scheduled prompts will return in a week at best, two weeks at worst. I’ll try to still put out content for you between now and then, but my brain needs time to recharge from the fiction writing process. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful vacation and are ready to face the new week! I’ll see you again soon!
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