Friday, November 25, 2011

As the end comes - NanoWriMo

So I'm going to win NanoWriMo this year unless some major catastrophe happens. This will be my "fourth" victory and each year it gets easier. Not because my life gets easier. My life has actually gotten consistently busier.
2008 - Win. Worked 9-5 at local newspaper, started 4 days late.
2009 - Win - Unemployed (This novel was my worst)
2010 - Win - First year working for Girl Scouts
2011 - Win - Second year working for Girl Scouts, where-in more and more is piled on my plate (Started out doing program/training. Now I do a lot of public relations and social media as well as am the advisor for our Teen Leadership Council.)
But NanoWriMo has taught me to prioritize my writing. I'm nowhere near publishable, but I am improving and more consistent. When I started NanoWriMo in 2008 I had problems finishing stories. There were always new and shiny plot bunnies. From Oct 2010-Oct 2011 I finished three different first drafts. So that's a hurdle I've overcome. Now I'm working on improving my editing (mainly finishing my editing - haha).

But back to NanoWriMo. Here's what I've learned:
  1. Time Management - This year the first weekend I had a Girl Scout overnight. Then the second week I had trainings 2 nights and an event the second weekend as well. I knew this was going to make things hard. But I also knew that I had some vacation day that I needed to use before the year ended. So I took a NanoWriMo vacation where I stayed at home, caught up on chores and did Nano. This might sound like a "luxury" to people without vacations to take, but the moral of the story is DO WHAT YOU CAN WHEN YOU CAN. Find and steal time wherever possible.
  2. Sundays - One of my NanoWriMo goals was to have BIG Sunday numbers. 4000 word Sundays became my habit. This is my only guaranteed day off and I wanted to make the most of it.
  3. Rewards - I always give myself NanoWriMo presents for accomplishments. This year I had UK basketball tickets and told myself I had to reach word count to go. Then I would reward myself with episodes of my new guity pleasure Vampire Diaries. For finishing I'm buying myself a fantabulous pair of shoes from Modcloth. Bribery is totally acceptable.
  4. Don't let the bad bother you - There's a whole section that's boring and somewhat redundant. Writing it was clunky and unpleasant. But I wrote it anyways and did not delete it. If you edit as you go you will lose. End of Nano.
  5. Write Different - This year I was feeling a little bored. Then Rachel Hawkins tweeted this website. Written Kitten. Suddenly it was a rocking and rolling Nano. It was a tiny change to my writing habit, but the new scenery worked. I don't even think it was the cute factor, but the new factor that worked for me.

  6. Live a Little - Don't just give up everything you love. Make the sacrifices you're willing to make. I've watched a lot of basketball and football this November. I set aside writing times before, sprinted during halftime, even wrote with the game on mute if it wasn't that entertaining.
NanoWriMo is something I've grown to love over the past four years.. The community is amazing. I find writing friends, particularly on twitter, that I talk to year round. Writing is usually such a solitary act, but it's so much better to have an encouraging community working with you. The bar graph feature keeps me on track. I want to be able to track my life with handy bar graphs. Some of the Pep Talks stick with me (I particularly remember a Neil Gaimon one that I've read more than once). This year I've spent less time on the NanoWriMo website, but year #4 has been wonderful in it's own way. I'm sad it has to end but at least I know back it'll be back next November.

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