Nanowrimo – Report Card #5

29th Nov 2010

Nanowrimo - Report Card #5

It’s the final ‘week’ of NaNoWriMo. Okay, so in my head there is still a week left, but in reality there are two days left and I’m, well, a little off target.

I’ll be honest with you, during these past two weeks things have really fallen apart with the project and I’m not even close to completing. But that’s not to say that I’ve definitely failed, after all there’s still a week (two days) left to finish. Whether I actually will or not, is another question. For a good idea of exactly how desperate my particular situation is, I have provided you with the following annotated, scientific diagram. You’re welcome.

In all honesty, it isn’t likely I’m going to finish but you never know I might get one final burst of motivation and maybe, with the assistance of sugar coffee amphetamines a well hidden and untapped resource of pure willpower, I might make the deadline at the stroke of midnight this Tuesday.

So, what have I taken from doing NaNoWriMo 2010?

Well, all I can give is the following ‘advice’. I call it advice – you might call it ‘obvious’:

Think of an idea in advance
Anyone who read my first report card will know that I pretty much fell at the first hurdle. I’ve still not really figured out how to actually think of an idea. Being someone whose inspiration only strikes at the most inconvenient of times (predominantly, in those three seconds before nodding off to sleep) it’s a constant struggle to have an idea, remember it, and later write it down.

Don’t take on too much
This probably isn’t an issue for most people, as anyone taking on a project such as NaNoWriMo would find that writing 1700ish words a day was commitment enough in and amongst whatever the hell else they’re doing in life: school, Uni, work, etc.
But not me. No. Doing a 50k word writing project somehow didn’t suffice. Going from doing very little to doing quite a big project sent my mind into hyper-drive and I decided to take on more stuff to do. And that’s why I joined a gym and decided that my ultimate goal would be regular exercise. As someone who has trouble with focussing on more than one thing at once and takes serious issue with any form of routine, it probably wasn’t the best idea to try and take up rigorous exercise routine as well.

Go to write-ins – as many as possible
Okay, I’m generalising and referring to myself mainly [no change there then – Ed] but being a writer and therefore inherently misanthropic and entirely socially awkward, going to a public place and writing with other people for a few hours, couldn’t be less appealing. But actually the write-ins have probably been the best part of this whole project. For one thing, it’s always nice to meet other people who enjoy writing, and for another being there really helped me to be productive and at the very least, concentrate for more than thirty seconds without wanting coffee/sandwiches/a facial/freshly baked cookies, etc.

Don’t find yourself in an existential crisis midway through the project
That one pretty much speaks for itself.

Try to write every day
I think this is possibly the most important (and relevant) of the lot: Write every day no matter what. And no matter what includes things like already being way past the daily word count and still going strong – if the words are there, just keep going. Keep going even if you’re tired, even if the phone is ringing, even if you need a sandwich, even if your house is on fire. Okay, well, maybe not that last one, but what I’m trying to say is it’s best to keep working when the ideas are to hand and you’re in the flow. You never know when you’re going to next hit a dry spell. This is where I go wrong, time after time. If I’d managed to write the bare minimum of words for the day, I would reward myself with doughnuts and a horror film. By the next day, I’d have pretty much lost my train of thought, and after forcing myself to chip out one word after another with very little success, the prospect of going back to it the next day for a similar tedious experience was less than appealing.

And I guess that’s all the advice I have to offer. There are a couple of days left for me to finish and despite whatever psychological issues I have with committing words to paper, focussing on more than one thing at once, coping with routines and providing myself with excessive rewards for achieving very little, I still feel that what I’ve written is of a much better quality than what I wrote last year. While NaNoWriMo is, essentially, about writing 50,000 words by the 30th of November, for me it isn’t enough of an achievement, unless those words are any good. And I say this only because I met the deadline last year and not once have I looked at what I wrote, or for that matter, even thought about it. And while there are probably some salvageable bits from the story, I wouldn’t call what I wrote first draft – merely a few bits of idea padded out with terrible dialogue to ramp up the word count.

So, for me personally, what I’ve learned about NaNoWriMo is, that it’s great to have targets and write every day, but it’s better to write something that you feel good about, than to write words merely for the sake of it. And if you want to dedicate a month to writing a novel, then you should do that. And join the gym some other time.

Post by Jo (Jo and the Novelist)


  • I still think you did start off very well. It’s a pity you didn’t get any further after the “epic fail” point but you learned from your mistakes and hopefully you will takes these points into account in your next writing project. There will be more writing, right?

  • Joey | The J. in R. J. Spindle says:

    If this is your first go at NaNoWriMo, then I’d say you should be proud of yourself! 30,000ish words is nothing to sneeze at. When I wrote my first novel, I got to that point three or four times before the story fizzled and died. You know what I ended up doing? I made up the most contrived ending I could think of–and finally finished my first novel!

    If you’re not feeling your current story, write an ending. It can be the worst ending ever. Maybe this bad story was only a novella. Not getting any ideas? Make your characters do the work. Ask them what they think they should do. Have a conversation with them in your head. Have you ever “known” how a conversation was going to go (in real life) before it happened? We all have. That’s the reason we lie! We expect things to happen. What does your character expect? Ask him/her. Then write it. End it. Call it finished. Go back to it should you get another idea for it. At least you have a working draft!

    Whatever you do, I’m glad to see you’ve come this far. Use these last two days to wrap things up, so at the end of the month–even if you don’t get to 50,000 words–you’ve got a good shell for the story. I say you did a great job–keep up the good work!