I failed at NaNoWriMo 2011, but it isn’t all bad

First things first, happy new year and welcome to 2012! I hope everyone had a pleasant Christmas.

This is a bit of belated post, really should have done this in December but I haven’t written anything since November after NaNoWriMo ended. If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, well it’s a month you’re meant to set aside and attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel. The idea is to flat out write non-stop, get the writing juices going.

I sadly finished at only 30063 words, which averages out at about 1000 words a day and just over half the target. Once NaNoWriMo finished, I took short break… and didn’t write until a month later. I was drained, my motivation to write anything had been sapped. It’s not as bad as it sounds, December is full of stress too, new work project, present buying, organising travel and arrangements for the holidays, school shows to attend and so on. So lots of things to drain any extra energy I had. But now the busy-ness of the holidays is over and I can start to get back into the swing of things.

Still I can’t deny that NaNoWriMo drained me a lot. Before that I was doing a solid 1000 words a day with my wordcount. I wasn’t getting 7000 words a week out though because I took a few nights off to do various other things. It was a much more healthy approach. So when I was writing, I was enjoying the process and the wordcount target kept me going. However with NaNoWriMo that got turned up to 11. I had to hit a target of 2000 words a day at least to hit the 50,000 words, and I had to write every day. If I missed a day, I had to catch up the next day. If the story wasn’t working, I couldn’t give up the wordcount for a day to go back over it and see what I needed to do. I had to keep going.

I haven’t looked at what I wrote. It wasn’t until the 20,000 mark when I realised the story wasn’t going to work. But I kept going, pushing forward. I had a lot of good ideas but I mowed through them to try and hit that target. The lack of flexibility created stress and I discovered I really do only have a finite amount of creative “bandwidth” for these things. Pushing over the limit didn’t work for me. Everyone has their own limits. I do a lot with the kids in the evening for example and so my writing is done after the kids are in bed.

It’s not all bad, it was great to attempt to write a novel. Taught me a lot about long-form writing. I’ve written so much flash fiction and short stories over the years that I hadn’t realised that novel writing is a different sort of craft. So there is no regrets. Even during December where I wrote nothing, I did instead reach for my pen and my new Wacom tablet and do some drawings and images. (I even setup a DeviantArt profile if you are that way inclined). It also gave me some space, a break from my existing projects. And now I’m rearing to go, getting back into the swing of things.

Here’s to 2012! Smile

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