My NaNoWriMo Goal – and an explanation
I’ve been debating whether or not to write this post for a while. I hinted at my goal for NaNo in the last post, but I wasn’t sure if I should go further. Some people get discouraged if they see others are writing more than they are, and I would never want to discourage anyone. That said, this is my blog, and I don’t feel like I should have to hide or be ashamed of my word count goal on my own blog.
Before I go any further, though, please let me make a few things clear.
1. I have a lot of free time in November.
I’m not kidding. A lot of free time. My last week of work for the year is next week (the joys of having a seasonal job). I only have class two days a week. Including time spent driving too and from class, plus the time spent in class, I spend about 8 hours a week in class. I’ve also worked on getting all of my work for these two classes done before November. I still have two papers to write for one of them, but they’re very short (2-3 double spaced), informal papers. My classes are really easy. I also have no kids, no bills to pay, no real commitments to anything. See? I told you I had a lot of free time.
A lot of people don’t have this. Some people are taking five really difficult classes. Some people are working full- or part-time jobs. Some people are doing both. Some people are doing that on top of clubs and activities and raising kids and going to religious services and all that other fun stuff. I’m in awe of you people. Really. I did one Camp NaNo while I was working full time, and I barely hit 50k. I was so tired after work that I rarely ever wrote during the week. I pretty much only wrote on weekends – and that was before I had class and therefore homework to do. I don’t think I would have finished if I had had to do both.
2. My region is extremely supportive.
It’s only halfway through November, and we already have 8 weekly write-ins up on the calendar, plus two special write-ins, and I know of at least two more write-ins that are being planned but haven’t been posted yet. So there is plenty of support and encouragement. We have a regional chat room that is constantly full of people, and those people are often doing word wars. It’s awesome. If anyone wants to hop in the chat room, let me know and I’ll send you a link, as there are a few people in there not from/in Atlanta who are always on. Just be warned that it can get pg-13/r at times, depending on the group of people in there at the moment. 🙂
3. I could only write this much in November – see reasons 1 and 2 above.
I have a hard time getting motivated to write on my own. It’s a huge problem, I know, but it’s true. Any other month, my inner editor takes over, and I have a hard time writing. During November, my inner editor actually shuts up. I think a large part of that is because all the other NaNo participants are so loud it drowns it out. There are so many people involved that it’s hard to let the self-doubt creep up. It’s also harder to back down on your goals, at least for me since I know so many of the participants in my region personally.
Plus there’s the fact that I have all that free time. I don’t have that during other months. I have work other times, and school with assignments that are harder than the ones due in November. Plus I have less work to do in November because I did it in October, so I couldn’t have written this much in October, too, because then I would never have done my homework. Plus there’s all the participants and word wars. Even months when I don’t have work/school, I also don’t have word wars, which means that my inner editor takes over completely. For instance, I failed both Camp NaNos this year. I hit 40k in June and 30k in August (I think – it might not even have been that much). Which brings me to my next point –
4. My first drafts are always horrible, no matter how long it takes me to write them.
Most people write a first draft, wait a while, and then edit it. That doesn’t work for me. I write a first draft, wait a while, throw it out, and rewrite it, and then I edit the rewrite. It’s just the way I work. I think part of why I’ve been having such trouble writing recently is that I’m trying to make the first draft decent, when that’s just not how I write. I was like this with short stories in college, and I’m like that with novels now. The first draft is when I get something down on paper and see how my outline works in actuality. The second draft is where my writing is better and I actually feel good sharing it with people. This is apparently an important part of my writing process that I keep trying to ignore, but I can’t anymore. My first drafts must be written down quickly, before the self-doubt comes back. Then I can take more time with the rewrites and edits.
5. I write literary fiction.
I almost forgot this one, but I feel it’s important. A lot of people write novels filled with action and plot twists and fun things like that. While one of my novels is a dystopia, so it will be more plot-filled than normal, all of my novels have at least an element of lit fic to them, which means that my characters spend a lot of time sitting around, thinking about things. Rambled thinking lends itself well to high word counts, and it’s not even really padding because it fits with the story (well, assuming you do it right, of course. Some ramblings would definitely be off topic.).
Now that that’s out of the way, I will say that my goal this November is 250,000 words. My novels tend to run around 100k, so I’m planning on writing two novels and finishing my Camp NaNo novel from August, which currently sits around 40k and still has a long way to go.
I hope my goal hasn’t discouraged anyone or made them feel like I thought I was better than them, because that’s not what I want at all. Everyone works a different speeds and in different ways, and this is what works for me. The novel that I have that’s closest to being able to be shared with people was one that I wrote during the first two weeks of NaNo last year. I reread it in December, rewrote it during JanNoWriMo, and was really happy with the second draft. I’m still editing that one, but I only have to rewrite a few chapters, not the whole novel, so I’m happy with it.
Good luck everyone!