Watch The Calendar
NaNoWriMo gave me a set amount of time to write the first draft of a novel: thirty days. I thought about working on an existing piece I’d started a while back, but no. NaNoWriMo is about one novel and thirty days.
This gave me two things I needed. 1- A set deadline and 2- a sense of perspective.
When I came back from California, worried that I would not make it, worried that my laziness would get the better of me again, I had one saving grace: the calendar.
I still had weeks to work. Even though I was behind, I knew if I could just get myself to sit down for long stints of time and make myself write, I could still make my deadline.
I looked at my schedule for the rest of the month, saw the days I had free, and promised myself they would be sprint days. I gave myself high wordcount goals, often over five thousand words each day. I wrote over twenty thousand words of my novel in four days, days I had off in a row when I knew I could shut myself in my basement with just my music, my netbook, and my novel.
I also figured out when I could write before work, possibly after (which is hard for me; I work best when I just wake up and go) and what days would be the worst to write. I worked my calendar.
Wordcount Is Everything, And Nothing
The point of NaNo is 50,000. The magic number. The ultimate goal. Wordcount was stressed to me, and it stressed me.
I had to make a daily quota or I would fall behind. I had to set a higher quota to make up for my lost amount of quota or I would fall even further behind.
It was the thing that loomed over my time when I was at my keyboard. And, as such, occasionally it did more harm than good.
If my first goal was to get to a certain number, I found writing harder. I struggled to hear my characters, imagine what would happen next for them, how they would react, because I had that number thumping in the background.
When I stopped, thought about the scene, thought about the people in it, how they would feel, react, what they would say, the words came. I worried about wordcount after I finished a scene, after I painted the landscape, after I expressed the mood of the moment, the feelings of the character, the experience they had.
If I fell short, I went onto another scene or I went back and enhanced the visuals or delved more into the emotions.
Wordcount takes care of itself if you write for your characters, not for the number.
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