Nanowrimo 2017 has just ended. And for the first time in four years managed to hit the 50K mark. For those unaware, Nanowrimo is National Novel Writing Month.
Usually I have a plan when it comes to Nanowrimo. I’ve either outlined a plot or I have an idea and try to build the story. That’s what I did all these years and managed to hit 48-49 K. Not bad, but this year by October 30 and even the first two days of November I had no idea what I was going to do. I was clueless and I didn’t know what I was going to write.
Without a plan it’s really hard to do Nanowrimo. Success largely depends on planning when it comes to Nanowrimo. So I looked at all my writing projects, especially the ones, where I had been asked to do R & R’s and ones that needed to be finished. I targeted four manuscripts. Each had or needed 20-40K words to be completed.
Step 1: Manuscript Choice
I chose 3 manuscripts that needed 20K-40K words. I was interested in writing these. I can’t explain it, but the others I just wasn’t in the mood to write.
Step 2: Identified Word Count/Day
One manuscript required 40K words. So that meant I needed to put down at least 4000 words per day. Those were tiring days. I was drained body and mind. The others required 1500-2000 words per day.
Step 3: Identified Weeks and Manuscripts
I set a deadline. Week 1 -X, Week 2- Y, Week 3-Z. I alternated the weeks so in week 1 I started with work that required 2000 words a day. This was a good decision, because it takes time to get your bearings. Earlier I was doing somewhere between 1000-1500 words a day and this was a lot more time and words. Then by week 2 I went on to 4000 words per day, by week 3 I was exhausted and dropped down to 2000 words a day, so the smaller manuscript.
Step 4: Kept Working
It was hard. I almost lost the entire first week, trying to get a plan ready and then getting into writing mode. So the thing I had to do was commit to sitting my butt in chair till those words were out. So I’d see yesterday I wrote 23,006 then I’d add the supposed new total on Nanowrimo and my page at 27,006 and would not get up till my word document read that number. This kinda forced me to do it in a way.
Step 4: Set the time
I experimented quite a bit in the first week, morning, early morning, night, evening. I found that after my prayer time, I was usually quite refreshed. My mind had emptied and after spending some time in contemplation, I was more calm. Also most of the word day, had been finished so I didn’t need to worry about any disturbances by evening. So 5-8 was usually my writing time. I’d sit with water and cookies by my side and wrote till I was done. I’d go to the restroom before so I didn’t have any excuse to get up.
Step 5: Turn off Everything
In my case I found it helpful to stay off social media and TV until my work was done. So I usually watch reruns of Everybody loves Raymond at 8:15. I found myself writing harder to make it to that slot. I wouldn’t check on social media till I was finished. It helped me because until I’d met the count I didn’t allow myself the freedom to entertain myself. Those distractions also helped me to wean myself from checking Twitter incessantly.
Step 6: Reading time
I’d read before falling asleep, on Sundays, my own manuscript before starting it on Monday to know where I was in the story or on weekdays other stories similar to mine to keep me grounded in the genre I was writing.
And that’s how I won Nanowrimo 2017 with three manuscripts this year. Mind you this worked for me , because I knew the beginning, middle and end of my story. One of my manuscripts needed description and color and world building as suggested by my publisher. Another needed to have an end which I knew, just getting there was the thing. This Nanowrimo helped me to finish the manuscripts that had been sitting on the shelf a long time.
What I’ve learned from this experience is you can take Nanowrimo and set your own goals or targets and use it in a way that supplements your career or whatever stage of the writing game you’re at. Next year I may look at getting two manuscripts ready three months prior and only look at focused and fast editing. The sky is the limit. Nanowrimo is simply a tool, it’s up to you, how you want to use it!
How did you use NaNoWriMo?