Monday, November 30, 2015

Are You Done Yet? A NaNoWriMo Retrospective

Another NaNoWriMo has come and gone. I didn't "win" this year, but I didn't expect to. As it was I took a few liberties with the rules. First, a little backstory:

As you may or may not know, earlier this year I started writing a serial for the OCH Literary Society. While I had hoped to issue a new instalment every couple of weeks I managed one per month for the first three months and then I got stuck. Call it writer's block, call it poor planning, call it life getting in the way, call it whatever you want. I wasn't writing much of anything and it was starting to suck.

In parallel with this I wasn't sleeping very well either, with most days spent trying to keep my eyes open at work and then coming home and doing family things like cooking dinner and soccer with my son or swimming or whatever activity it was. By eight at night I was too pooped to do anything that required brain activity. I just didn't feel creative.

Long story short, I did something about it and went to my doctor and she got me on some vitamin D drops and put me back on this sleep inducing medication that I used to take when my insomnia was really kicking my ass. Within a month or so I was starting to feel better and I was getting back into the groove, creatively speaking. After putting a few blog posts together (gearing up for the big Canadian election) I sat down with The Book of Good to write instalment four and realized something.

I was still stuck.

That's okay, because NaNoWriMo was just around the corner and I would use the thirty days and thirty nights of literary abandon to move the serial forward.

My plan was simple:
Write instalment four, five, six, and seven; completing one every two days. Then, with the thirty-five thousand or so words I had kicking around from NaNo 2013 cobble together another eleven instalments. If I could at least get the bulk of each instalment down so that adding additional plot or character development wouldn't take me weeks on end, then I would have all the heavy lifting done and cranking out an instalment every couple weeks after that should be easy peasy lemon squeezy. 
Fifteen instalments, thirty days. Go!

Well, it's been thirty days, so how'd I do? I am happy to report that I made a lot of progress. Instalments four, five, and six were written with relative ease. Instalment seven will probably need to be split into two (maybe four) with each one expanded, and instalments eight through fourteen need to have my main cop character added, but that was expected. Instalment fifteen is giving me grief at the moment so I think I'll have to come back to it. As for instalments sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen, they'll have to wait for another day. On the upside, I cranked out four blog posts from November 24 -28 (I really like this short, short story, The Sandwich Artist) and this will be post #5 in the last seven days AND I even wrote some lyrics for a song my friend Jim put together recently.

So, not an all-out victory, but not a loss either. In fact, I see it as being quite successful to have come out the other end with more than I had when you started. I don't think of it as having failed at writing however many thousands of words, I think of it as having created something before which there was naught. That's progress, baby!

And to answer the question writers get asked more often than any other question, no, I'm not done yet.

~ Andrew

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