My official word count for NaNoWriMo is 53,383. The first 30k was completed in 7 days at the beginning of the month. My initial goal was 30k because I decided to co-write a book with my Mother-in-law where we each take on 30k for the month. When I finished my portion of the thing, I sat around moping for a couple of days – this unbelievably ridiculous state of mind I get into when I have finished one project and lament I will never come up with another idea again – then struck upon a fresh idea for a book and decided to go for the NaNoWriMo gold by writing another 20k on the new project.
I made it, with time to spare, but the differences in the process of two books were astounding. The first book had a basic outline, a plot element for each chapter, a handful of characters and a direction when I started out. It went smoothly and I barely batted an eyelash in the struggle to come up with a plot. The second book started out with a concept and that’s it. Despite the fact that I know the ending of the book, I still have no clue where I’m going with it and the tension is waning because of that.
So now I’m taking a break to reexamine the plot of book two and I decided to also examine my experiences with NaNoWriMo. It was more illuminating than I thought it might be.
So here’s the truth about me and NaNoWriMo.
I heart structure
I never thought I would say that. I never thought it was true, but it all makes sense now. My desk is sparse, I hate stuff and clutter. I work best on one story/project at a time. I took a test the other day that said I was a bit more right brained (organized/logical) than left brained (chaotic/creative). After all this time of thinking I was so damn free wheeling and intuitive, here I am hearting the hell out of structure.
Plotting is my least favourite part of writing a book, but it seems once I have the basics, I can easily string everything together. If left alone to my own devices (with no structure) I will meander like crazy and get nowhere fast.
I guess I did, a little. I guess in a way it’s lucky I like structure. My desire for order has allowed me to be a successful freelancer for years and helps me to organize my thoughts and life easily. But on the flip side I look to people who are able to be completely free and chaotic with a little bit of envy or at least great admiration. Unfettered randomness is something I would love to be able to achieve, but I have trouble with it. I can’t just let things fall as they may, I have a desire to pick them up and organize them if they are just scattered about.
I suppose the grass is always greener isn’t it?
I’m a competitive bitch
It all started when I was young. I was a figure skater and I competed fervently for medals. I loved me my gold. And when you’re young they say it’s not about winning or losing but I don’t think I ever really bought into that crap. It is about winning and losing sucks.
So now of course, every time there is a winning condition set for something, I’m on it like a woman possessed, teeth bared and ready to kick ass.
Who am I competing with?
Well in this case no one in particular, but I still feel that thrill of competition which – if I followed it to it’s fullest extent – would probably allow me to tear down anyone in my path to get to the finish line. It’s brutal and bloody in my mind. It’s a chaotic mess of stress and holier-than-thou thought patterns.
Holier than who?
I don’t know…thou. Whoever thou is in the moment.
I’m not proud of it but in a way I don’t want it to change because it really drives me to get shit done. When engaged in competition I become a brutal bitch of a doer. Definitely productive, if not completely healthy.
I have carpel tunnel
Never has it been more apparent then when typing around 4,300 words a day.
Damn it sucks.
Deadlines stress me out
For mostly the entire week I was writing my 30k I was stressed. It’s possible it’s because my MC is a psychopath of course, but I think it was more than that. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself because I wanted to see just how fast I could do it. So literally every moment spent now writing I felt stressed. I felt like I ought to be writing.
I feel that way just naturally when I’m not working on a project (or even sometimes if I am) but in the case of NaNoWriMo it was massively amplified. Now in a way it’s good, because I know I will work like hell in the future when I have actual real deadlines, but I kind of wish there was a way to magically undo the stress of it all.
I’m not satisfied with less
I think I would be kicking myself if I hadn’t done the full 50k. I’m not satisfied with halfway to the prescribed goal of a thing.
I felt compelled – even if I didn’t realize it at first – to push my word count forward. It got me a good head start on my new book admittedly, but in retrospect it might have been good to figure out an actual plan before I started it. Luckily I’m not too far in that if I have to slash and burn a little, I won’t be completely heart broken.
So there you have it. The truth about me and NaNoWriMo.
I learned a lot more than I thought I would.
So the question is: will I do it again?
I’d like to say the answer is no. I mean when I have an idea for a book it rarely takes me longer than a month to write the thing. Plus I’m hoping to get my actual career as a published writer going soon which will give me all the incentive I need (as if I’m lacking).
But in the end, I might just concede that my competitive nature will flare up when word of next year’s NaNoWriMo hits the twitterverse and I might not be immune to the allure of something I can potentially ‘win’.
Because even if it’s not a real competition, I certainly found a way to make it one in my mind this year and I can’t see that part of me changing anytime soon.