Friday, December 1, 2017

NaNoWriMo Winner | #amwriting

I didn't think I was going to make it. I really, really didn't. Just look at those abominable stats!
I didn't even start writing until day 7 and that smooth plateau mid-month? That's when I got sick, which is apparently my new Thanksgiving tradition. I DO NOT recommend it; it sucks. I was meant to go RVing that weekend -and get ALL OF THE WORDS written- but I didn't wind up going because of that cold. Instead, I stayed in bed. I mean, I rewatched nearly all three seasons of Ashes to Ashes, so it wasn't a total loss, but still.

But you want to see something really cool?

The number of zeros here is completely atrocious, I know. Despite them, though, I still managed 50k. My mind's still reeling from this. Most of the month I wasn't too concerned. "Oh, I've still got twelve days to write that 25k -totally fine!"

It was on November 26th, when I realized I hadn't even hit the halfway mark -and only had five days left- that I started to panic.

Like I said, I didn't think I'd make it. I lost some sleep; I skipped some (most) lunches; I barely read; I certainly didn't watch any TV. (I did make an exception for the Avengers: Infinity War trailer because HOLY CRUMB, YOU GUYS!)

And somehow -without going completely insane or becoming a total bear- I wrote 26,318 words in five days.

It's been years since I wrote that much with such consistency. Like, when I was still in school, before I got a job, when I would literally do nothing but write for 6 hours every day -and even then big word counts were only during good writing days.

Writing has become a real struggle for me over the past years. I think a lot of it has to do with my evolving understanding in style and technique; basically, I have a harder time writing first drafts, because my Inner Editor keeps telling me "This is crap, this is really, really crap, how can you write this drivel?" And it really is drivel; I know for a fact that I used almost the same words and phrasing to describe certain characters every time I described them.

But the magic of NaNo is that it in itself is a habit. I trained myself for years to write for word count, lock away that Inner Editor, and just make myself write. Outside of November, getting my Inner Editor to shut up is a real trick! But I've done NaNo so many times, it's automatic from November 1st to the 30th.

And NaNo has reminded me Yes! I can write complete drivel and still make headway! I had this conversation with a NaNo buddy yesterday as we made that dash for the finish line, because she's been having some of the same writing struggles as me. Over November, we both noticed that letting ourselves write terrible first drafts -focusing on word count rather than trying to fit everything together- actually led to more genuine inspiration and ideas that seemed to slide seamlessly into the story, giving it more depth and pizzazz. For a girl who has been driving herself nuts trying to do exactly that in outline form, this was like winning a million dollar lottery. Twice. 

My friend brought up this idea from Inception, and I had to dig it up, because this is what I realized this November. Just replace 'dream' with 'writing', and this is it exactly.

Cobb: Well, imagine you're designing a building. You consciously create each aspect. But sometimes it feels like it's almost "creating itself", if you know what I mean.
Ariadne: Yeah, like I'm discovering it.
Cobb: Genuine inspiration, right? Now, in a dream, our mind continuously does this. We create and perceive our world simultaneously, and our mind does this so well that we don't even know it's happening. That allows us to get right in the middle of that process.
(from Wikiquotes)
I've talked some about my ongoing writing woes, especially as concerns my current project Glass & Cinders, and it seems like I'm always finding the 'Aha!' solution to my problems. But I'm pretty sure this is it, the root cause of the problem. This concept of perceiving and creating, of genuine inspiration coming so easily and often during the writing process. Many of my attempts to fix this story via outlining and brainstorming have turned out wooden and flat, because I guess I do my best writing when I'm actually writing. Go figure.

And since I also learned that -given a 15-minute timer and a good song in my headphones- I can easily generate 600 words. Again, for a girl who's been writing words like it's pulling teeth, this is another wake-up call, like lightning to my brain.

So here's to keeping the pace -not the 6,000 words a day thing; that's an epic burnout waiting to happen!- and continuing on til I hit that most desirable finish line of all. The one that says 'The End.'

How did your crazy November go?


  1. yay you won NaNoWriMo! Congrats! I only wrote 30K words :( life got in the way but I'm so happy for you! One thing I did learn with all these Camp NaNos and this year NaNo was to turn off my Inner Editor :) And you are listening to Wolf by Wolf. Possibly my top book of this year!

    1. I am listening to Wolf by Wolf -a little off and on because I keep getting distracted and then it deletes itself off my Kindle. XD But so far I'm really enjoying it.
      Turning off the Inner Editor is lesson number 1! I can't believe how much difference it makes.
      Congrats on your 30k. It's by far nothing to sneeze at. Hopefully you get more time (maybe after the holidays).