Halfway Through Nanowrimo

How’s Nano going for me? I’m glad you asked. Here’s my report from halfway through National Novel Writing Month 2022.

Unlike last year (my first Nano), this year I prepared more ahead of time, devoting hours in September and October to thinking and deciding. On November first, here are three things I had resolved to do.

Adapt the model

The Nano model is to produce a rough draft of 50,000 words toward a new book during November. I wasn’t going to do that. I was going to build on an existing novel project. I planned to keep up with the word count, by adding to my 25,000-word work in progress. That way, by the end of November, I’d have a 75,000-word draft.

Allocate my time

Using a tool from the Nano website, I decided to allocate my time unevenly. Rather than aiming for 1,667 words per day I decided to take to heart Nano’s quiz result and divide my time between weekdays and weekends. I only need to produce 800 words per day Monday through Friday. Then, over the weekend, I ask myself to write 8,500 words.

a GIF of Maggie Smith as the Dowager in Downton Abbey, asking, "What is a "weekend"?

A “weekend” is a two-day period during which one produces 8,500 words.

Maintain focus

Last year’s Nano saw me diverging from a single purpose, and working on revisions to an existing manuscript, as well as drafting a new one. The process worked for me, and I have no regrets. However, as a change, for 2022, I resolved to keep the focus on my work in progress. This has been possible in part because of my pre-Nano preparations. I didn’t have a clear enough picture of where I was headed last year, when I allowed myself to pour my writing energies into more than one project. This year, with the end  of my story in sight, it’s been much easier to maintain my focus on a single project.

How It’s Going

Having set those rules for myself, I’ve been evaluating them mid-stream. Significant choices – to alternate point of view in successive chapters, and to include the pandemic in the narrative – now preclude other possibilities. I can see this clearly. Chips are falling. On balance, I am grateful for the framework that my choices provide.

So far, the Nano experience this year has been a pleasure. I enjoy random tweets from fellow writers, sharing progress notes and/or encouragement (long may the Twitter writing community wave). And I do feel a sense of common purpose with people around the globe, all focused for these thirty days on a similar goal.

I told some close friends that I was committing to Nano and they’ve been asking me how it’s going. Their questions, and their curiosity, feel great.

Most importantly, because I took the time earlier this fall to muse about where this project was going, and then to make some important decisions about structure and plot, I feel anchored in the story. This means I don’t need to write in a straight line. I can draft a chapter from later in the sequence, with some confidence that it won’t all be headed for the compost heap. I so enjoy that. My mind tends to skip around, by its nature, and I now have places to put the creative ideas because I made a framework ahead of time.

That preparatory musing did not happen in a straight line, and seemed to require plenty of space and permission to wander. Doing it in November, while feeling the pressure to generate sentences, simply couldn’t have happened. I’m so glad that I made the time for this earlier in the fall.

Also important to my enjoyment of the Nano experience this year is my intentional scheduling for sufficient alone time. George Sand (1804-1876) said, “[W]hen it is a question of giving form to your thoughts, whether you are secluded in your study or performing on the planks of a stage, you must be in total possession of yourself.” I can relate to her example of being onstage while in total possession of yourself – it has occasionally happened for me – but it’s way easier to have that experience when I’m home alone.

In short, so far, so good! I’m at 60.3K words and feeling like there’s more to come.

Are you doing Nano this year? Let me know how it’s going for you, and what you’re learning from the experience.


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