There were no questions for O'Abby today, so I thought I'd use this space today to go through some of the things that worked for me during this year's NaNo, and things that didn't. Hopefully this will be useful for those of you who may not have ever attempted NaNo before, as well as those seasoned veterans.
Let's start with the things that did work...
1. Starting with a bang. It was great that this year November 1 was a Sunday, because it meant I didn't have to try and fit writing in around the day job and all the other commitments we all juggle on weekdays. I dedicated a few hours of the day to writing and managed to blitz just over 4,000 words on the first day. Having some extra words in the bank gave me some peace of mind on days when I only managed 500 or so words because of outside pressures.
2. Dedicated writing days. I took one day off work each week during NaNo (and two days the first week) to dedicate to writing. This was fantastic and I managed around 6K on each of these dedicated writing days, and because they were usually Friday, it was a great inspiration leading into the weekends where I had a few spare hours and generally managed to add another 4-5K.
3. A loose outline. Any of you who know me, know I don't tend to outline my books before I write them. This time, because I was basing the book on Shakespeare, I had a basic structure to work from even without writing an outline. I found this tremendously helpful with the fast drafting because I had a guide for where I needed to go next.
4. Music. This is something that works for some books and not for others. Some books (like The Sidewalks Regrets) have a very specific soundtrack that I refer to and use throughout the writing process to get myself into the right mood and mindset to write individual scenes. My NaNo book this year had a very distinct soundtrack that helped me find the mood and motivation and emotional tone for various parts of the story.
5. Writing forward and not stopping. This is a must when fast drafting. Don't go back and rewrite anything, even when you know you took a wrong turn somewhere further back. Leave yourself a note and move on. You can fix those things later. I made a whole lot of mistakes in the early part of my book this year, but I'll fix them later. As I got to know my characters better through the writing process, things I wrote early on will no longer fit or make sense. But that's okay. That's what revision is for!
And things that didn't work...
1. Writing every day. I wanted to, but there were days where I only managed 400 words because there just wasn't time to do anything more. I tried not to beat myself up about it because I knew I had words in the bank to make up for those days, but it's hard not to.
2. Writing at home. My most productive writing days were at the library. There are too many distractions at home, even when I turn off the internet to keep them to a minimum. There's always cleaning that needs to be done, gardening, laundry and other chores that suddenly seem super urgent whenever I sit down to write. Leaving the house and going somewhere else means that while the chores don't go away, I'm not so aware of them.
3. Two days off in a row. The first week of NaNo I took two days off to write. They were both productive, but I found the second day much more of a struggle and wrote considerably less than on the first. Possibly because my back was sore from sitting in the same chair for so many hours when I'm not used to sitting for long periods. If I take two days off in a week again next year, I will try not to have them consecutive.
Hopefully these reflections are of use to you. Do let us know how you got on with NaNo. Did you 'win'? Do you have anything that worked well for you while you were writing this month?