Day 1 of National Novel Writing Month fell on a Sunday, which I just couldn’t deal with. I’d stayed up way later than normal celebrating Halloween (picture below), it was pouring rain all day, and I just wanted to crochet and watch Gilmore Girls. So, all of those very important and very valid factors included, I didn’t start NaNoWriMo until November 2nd.
Don’t worry. This is not a sign of my impending failure. I’ve worked the system. My goal is to write 2,000 words a day, six days a week. That way, I still reach my word goal of 50,000 (plus some) and I get to relax my brain one day a week. That seems fair, right?
Anyway, writing day 1 proved to be a modest success. Did I reach my goal of 2,000 words? Yes! I wrote 2,019 words! However, I wrote those words over the course of an entire day, not because I didn’t have ideas, but because I kept being distracted.
My routine went as follows:
- Write 300 words
- Pet adorable puppy
- Write 300 words
- Check Facebook
- Attempt to edit what I’ve written so far
- Write 400 words
- Eat a snack
- Write 400 words
- Check Instagram
- Write 500 Words
- Consider quitting because “1900 words is close enough”
- Berate self for being so lazy
- Write last 119 words
- Celebrate with a “fun size” Twix bar.
As you can see, I have a near flawless routine…Okay, maybe I don’t, but I’m getting there. For writing day 2 and onward I’ve formed a plan to keep myself accountable and typing.
1) No social media while writing.
This is an obvious rule, but it is necessary. It is so easy to watch one cat video and then be sucked into the internet time suck vortex. Next thing you know, you haven’t written a word in almost an hour. Therefore, my phone will be on silent and out of reach during my writing time. I think it’s important to keep writing time sacred.
2) No editing while writing
This is easily my biggest problem. It’s hard for me to keep writing knowing a sentence in my first paragraph could be worded better. If I go back and fix one sentence, then I realize I used the same word twice in one paragraph and I have to open a Thesaurus and find a different word for one of them. Then, I realize my dialogue is a little cheesy and I better fix it before moving on. You see where I’m headed with this. One correction leads to endless corrections. As I said before, writing time is sacred. It is like a plant. It is important to prune a plant, but if you prune before the plant is ready, you can stunt growth and ruin what could have been a perfectly beautiful plant. I don’t want to ruin my perfectly beautiful story by pruning it too soon. Everything has its time. So, I actually minimized my font until it was barely readable to discourage any backtracking while I’m writing. If I can’t read the mistakes, then I can’t fix them.
3) Don’t show the first draft to anyone
This is a very important rule for the writing process, but it’s also an important rule for my own confidence. When I’m writing something with the intention of showing it to other people, I place a lot more pressure on myself. I want to make sure every word is perfect and I’m putting forth my best work. It’s like dressing for a day at home versus a day out. When I’m staying home, I shamelessly wear my Doctor Who pajama pants and extra large t-shirts. However, I’d never wear those clothes out of the house. Writing is very similar.
If I felt I had to show my first draft to other people, I wouldn’t have the confidence to explore unfamiliar writing styles or play around with point of view, because I’d be concerned it wouldn’t work and people wouldn’t like it. With the rule that no one sees my first draft, I’m free to explore new territory with my characters, writing style, and ideas without any fear of backlash, criticism, or failure. All of my bad ideas can be scrubbed away in my second draft, which can then be presented to the public.
With any goal it is good to have a game plan and a way to keep yourself accountable. These blog updates will be both of those things for me. Hopefully, I can stick to these rules and continue to meet my writing goals.
What goals (reading, writing, health, etc.) do you want to achieve in November? Let me know in the comments!