This year has been rough, and I know I’m not the only one to feel that way. By the time NaNoWriMo (NaNo) rolled around, I had broken pretty much every pattern I used to keep moving forward and was a muddled mess. Deciding to try NaNo in those circumstances was probably not the best course, and if I’d continued on the traditional path, I would have failed. I often point out the progress of those who don’t cross the finish line, but I have trouble applying that to myself.
However, when my brain forgot the middle of the month (assisted by my main hard drive eating itself), I turned to my daily log to see what I’d done. Thanks to the file being stored on the cloud, I’d written every day but the first. I had succeeded in re-establishing a writing pattern even if it wasn’t for my NaNo project.
With the year I’ve experienced, this is huge. My daily log not only reminds me to write but also gives me a record when my memory is missing. And yet, even that had started to fail me as November 1st shows.
When I realized every day since had an entry in what, for all practical purposes, is a memoir I had an idea. It might be as far from the letter of NaNo law as it comes, but I folded the cape of NaNo around my shoulders, and wrapped in the spirit, I collected every bit of creative writing into a work I call Scatterings.
Below is my word count chart. Some days I jotted the bare minimum, and not a NaNo minimum, into my journal. Others, my mind and hands raced through. The end became a desperate scramble, and though I tried for words without fine tuning, even when desperate, the words didn’t count until they reflected my intent clearly. And yet, late evening on the 30th, my wild collection crossed the 50,000 word count line once again.
What did I get out of this NaNo? Traditionally, the answer has been a novel or at least a solid head start. This year the results were different on all fronts, but no less important.
- I established the habit of maintaining my journal again.
- I learned though my brain was unable to maintain focus, I could follow it from story to story and make something resembling progress.
- I also found the capacity to manage my bursts of energy into something productive at least in the short term.
Here are the notes I took for this article at the very end of NaNo. I’m including them with only the slightest editing for effect:
This year my project was to see if I could still focus long enough to write a lot. I struggled at the beginning, but once I realized the best way to manage my lack of focus was to work with it instead of against, I managed to get it done. Sure, it took an all-nighter and going almost to the last minute, but I both reached the goal word count and made progress that will help me in the future. A collection of creative projects from memoir to world and character building for a variety of novels. I set up 40 ideas [my novel estimate was off] to write on and actually added to at least 4. There’s even a poem in the mix.
The consequences of those discoveries have been measured out in minimal awake time since November and severe displacements. So, not what I should be doing every month, but still I made important discoveries.
For the curious, here’s the complete breakdown of content then my daily word count.
When I figured out how I would rescue this NaNo, I set up 23 books from 10 different series in my Scrivener file. I ultimately wrote on only four of those, with world and character building blending into scenes and back. Separating actual outline from usable scenes is going to be fun. When I wrote a poem out of the blue, I couldn’t waste words, so created an “Extras” category which contains 1 poem. I moved my daily log into Scrivener as well, considering this portion memoir. Finally, I included the non-fiction articles or partials I wrote during the month, largely for my blog. The breakdown comes to this:
Fiction: 24,674 (including supporting materials)
Memoir: 15,180 (I had no idea it was so much!)
Final Total: 50,641
Oh, and the four books were two in Seeds Among the Stars (the most going to a post-Apprentice bridging novella) and the next two novels in my sweet contemporary romance series Foster’s Way. I also added some notes to a shifter series that’s been building in the back of my head.
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