This year, I reached 104% of my NaNoWriMo goal, but that success didn’t take a month. Based on my past experiences with the competition, I set myself to succeed when I set my word count on November 1, and thought about how I was going to work towards my goal.
Set Yourself up for Success
In solidarity with my students, I used the youth website (ywp.nanwrimo.com) and I set my goal at 20,000 words- less than half of what it would have been if I had used the adult site. One of the reasons I haven’t done NaNoWriMo for a few years is because November is a crazy busy month. Shorter days, holiday prep, school concerts, parties- the whole month, especially the latter half, is just not conducive for writing. I figured that, plus the fact that I’ve gone back to teaching, would mean I’d have even less time this year. So, I thought about what I could manage, and the 600 words a day I’d have to write to meet my goal seemed doable. Secondly, I made sure the first couple of weeks I was over-producing in order to front load. On average, I wrote 1000 words a day the first two weeks, finding the time to write by returning to my routine of getting up an hour earlier every day. It felt really good to return to my early morning writing sessions and bang off my words for the day before everyone else in my house was awake. I built myself a healthy cushion, which was a good thing.
Expect the Unexpected
The second half of month- the last week and a half in particular- ran a little like a classic British farce. I dragged myself out of bed for my five a.m. writing slot only to have my computer decide to do a major update. One hour later, it was only 30% through the update, and I had to go to work. My husband helpfully turned off the alarm I set to get up early on the Saturday to make up for my lost writing slot, figuring I’d set it by mistake. The rest of the day was jam-packed, as weekend with kids tend to be, and as I predicted when I set the alarm on Friday night, there was no time for me to get to my desk. Then, there as the power outage during my designated writing slot a few days later. My computer had enough juice, but I keep my document on the cloud. No internet, no writing. Thank goodness I had my cushion and my realistic writing goal.
An Honest Day’s Work
A great deal of my success can be attributed to my new job. As a writing teacher, there was no way I was going to ask my students to write 20,000 words and not do it alongside them. Knowing they would see my totals on our class page kept me honest. It was also really amazing to have a built in community, especially when I struggled to make it to the NaNoWriMo events being held around town.
Ironically, having less time to write has also made me more productive. I cringe when I think of the amount of time in the past I wasted moaning about not writing. Or, generally fooling around with useless stuff instead of writing. I don’t have the luxury of endless time anymore, and I am better off for it.
A Job Well Done
I am proud of myself and what I have accomplished, especially the return to a regular writing routine. I have to admit I was a little disappointed with the lack of response from the universe- I kicked butt and the world seems to just keep turning- but in the end I know that the only one who needs to celebrate my accomplishments is me (though a little recognition for my hard work and sacrifice on the part of my family would be nice.) For a few years now, I’ve paid myself to write- this year I even gave myself a raise. For every two hundred minutes I put my butt in the chair, I pay myself forty dollars. I’m going to add up my NaNoWriMo minutes and reward myself with an online course, or some of the reference books that I’ve been eyeing, because my writing career deserves it. What I’ve done these last thirty days is small in some ways, but it’s huge in others and that deserves to be celebrated.
On Monday, I will be getting up at five again to continue my novel. Writing is my real reward.