NaNoWriMo 2015: The Writer’s Journey

Anyone who’s done multiple NaNoWriMos knows that every year is different from the last.

Last year, I stayed behind on my word count, writing 20k in the last week to frantically catch up and finish on a nice Sunday afternoon.

This year, I stayed caught up until the middle of the month, slipped behind a bit, and caught up over the Thanksgiving long weekend with turkey and tea in Christmas mugs! (Our house is now decorated nicely for Christmas, and I couldn’t be happier!)

That’s the great thing about NaNo: every year it’s a journey, and every year it’s new and exciting. A new project, a new writing pattern, a new enthusiasm – for people who need a little change every once in a while (like me!) NaNo is the kick in the pants we need to jump start our writing into the new year!

My journey this year was an interesting one. You can see a lot of the highlights in the progress graph:

NaNo2015 Final Graph

I maintained my enthusiasm until around day 17 before I fell behind–and it never got as disastrous as my previous attempts (writing 20k in 5 days, anyone?) I also finished early this year, which is another huge first for me! I’m hoping to add another few thousand to my word count (if my tingling fingers don’t kill me, of course) before the month is over.

One thing I did differently this year was switch stories about 10,000 words in. I began with a fanfiction story I’ve been meaning to finish for about two years now. Unfortunately, it got very old very fast. Me from two years ago had failed to come up with a good motive or plan for the villain, and I began to realize just how terrible the plot was–so I switched over to my second project earlier than I’d planned and fell in love with it. Enthusiasm is one third of the equation of a hefty word count, and though there were still some rough patches, I fell in love with the characters and the story during the month, and I actually plan on touching it after November is over and finishing it, for a change!

And now, for a good and proper reflection, I’d better see if I followed my own advice from last year’s post-NaNo blog post:

1. Write every night, and forfeit your health a little if you need to.

Ah, well, I did stay up a little later occasionally; but I actually found it wasn’t 100% necessary. The only reason past!me recommended this is because I fell behind crazy early and was floundering to catch up. I stayed on target for the most part this year, so late nights weren’t needed! Hooray!

2. Write or Die. Enough said.

Actually… I didn’t use Write or Die at all this month! Huh.

What I did use, though, were a number of other handy resources: namely, Scrivener’s full-screen function and, for the last 3 days, 750words.com. One of my favorite bloggers, Thomas Frank came out with a video about his favorite writing applications. 750words was on there, and as soon as I started using it, I was hooked! I wrote so much with it that today I even surpassed its 5k word limit for non-members. I know what I’ll be asking for this Christmas…

3. Plan ahead of time, please.

This was the bit I struggled with again this year! I planned much more than last year, but I still found myself writing pointless filler scenes trying to figure out what to do next. The balance between letting my characters drive the story and making sure the plot happens is a tricky one to manage.

4. Write regularly outside of NaNo.

Did I write much after November? Well, I wrote more. But not much. *sigh* I’ll be adding this one to my NaNo 2016 advice post…

5. Build your NaNo spirit on the NaNoForums!

Finally, a piece of advice I actually followed! The forums were awesome as usual. I made some great friends and got some awesome advice there this year. SpaceFlowers, I’m lookin’ at you! 😉 The “Get Your Butt Kicked Here” thread and the fanfiction forums were the most motivating this year. Gotta love fellow fic authors and a good kick in the pants when you need one!

This year has come to a close, and it’s bitter sweet. I’m incredibly busy in the following weeks, and I’ll be glad to have the extra stress off my plate… but I’ll really miss the community and the excitement of word sprints and updating my word count. I think nearly everyone feels this way at the end of the month; it’s a relief, but it’s also sad.

Congratulations, winners; and be proud, those of you who haven’t quite made it–you’ve got more words than you did before, and that’s the whole reason NaNo exists!

See you all next year!

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