NaNoWriMo 2018

I wasn’t really sure I was going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I told myself I shouldn’t–I had so much going on! I jumped into a rather strange teaching position this year (cooking and marketing classes, neither of which are my actual subject area), and I’m spending a lot of time reading and finding materials and making lesson plans, just trying to stay one step ahead of my classes. Doing NaNo wasn’t really a good idea.

But the call of NaNo was strong. I really wanted to do it whether I should or not. I do it almost every year (the exceptions being the year my mom died and the year we were renovating our new house and moving in during late October and all of November). In the midst of all of the completely unfamiliar territory of the new teaching job, I think I also wanted that familiarity of the NaNo experience.

So I did it. But I didn’t have time to do planning. I tried. I got a couple of character names and a basic idea of where they would be and what would be going on (paranormal explorers investigating a deserted island once occupied by a mystical cult and said to be haunted). So I decided to be a pantser this year.

As you can see by the graph of my day-to-day word counts, I had a hard start to the month. Parent conferences, trying to work with a bunch of kids who are behind on work, the general constant planning I’m doing to create lesson plans since I’m starting from scratch for each unit.

On day 22, I had less than half of the 50K goal. I tried to tell myself it was okay to not make it to 50K. I actually really do believe that! Except I couldn’t accept it for myself. I said I wasn’t going to make it; I wasn’t going to win this year. I couldn’t accept that. So I pretty much ran myself into the ground the last ten days of November, and I dragged myself over that finish line with about six hours to spare.

I do not recommend this.

This NaNo experience has left me thinking about my capabilities, though. I can clearly put in the hours and do the work. So why do I only do it during November? I do some writing throughout the rest of the year, of course, and I do other creative things. But there’s no regularity to it (I’ve talked about this problem before). I don’t actually know how to change myself, even though I help other people learn new ways to get things done and reach their goals.

Of course, they have me to check in with, to encourage them, to remind them of deadlines. That’s the part I keep trying to do for myself, but I think I might need an external motivator. This coach needs a coach!

Still, I’m pretty proud of myself for the NaNo win. And I know I am capable of doing a lot when I can find the energy and focus. Maybe I just need to start looking for that focus in new places.

8 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo 2018

  1. Congrats on winning NaNo! I’ve won it the few times I participated, but it’s not easy to carve out the time for writing consistently, every day. I know I could not produce that much or write that consistently every month. The times I did it, it was really wearing, but as you noted, so worthwhile just to see what I could do if I pushed myself. Congrats again, and good luck applying what you’ve learned!

  2. Thanks, Jeannette! In past years, I had jobs that gave me some downtime during the day to write, and it was much easier. It’s definitely a lot harder to fit in that much writing daily with a busy job!

    • Thanks, Shan! And the consistent effort–that’s where I struggle. I seem to be a rollercoaster. But I’m still trying to find my way to that consistency.

  3. I love how you discovered your limits with this NaNo. Now, taking what you’ve learn, maybe you can use these lessons and make a creative path that will be consistent and emotionally gratifying?

    Could you use the ROW80 check-ins a bit more? Maybe even the 750words daily reminder email (you can set the time you receive this reminder so it fits better into your schedule)? And… remember, some days you ARE just going to write “I don’t know what I want to write” over and over again for the first 100 or so words. Maybe on days you feel particularly stuck, dedicate a few hundred words to just copying text from a book you love then adding something or someone to the story that doesn’t belong there and seeing where the need to make it fit in could be accomplished?

    Draw and write… Don’t ignore your other creative pursuits.

    And… though cooking isn’t your usual expertise, maybe you could use your writing time for lesson plans and new recipes?

    • Thank you for all the good ideas, Eden. Consistency is where I really struggle, so I’m thinking about how to better use check-ins (including doing some of my own in addition to ROW80) to help me out. And I do write those lines of “I don’t know what to write” sometimes. Getting the pen (or fingers) moving is the first step, right?

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