Because It’s Supposed to be a Challenge

As I posted, I’ve logged in for NaNoWriMo again this year. I wasn’t feeling it last year, but I still participated. When I was finished, I hoped I’d be looking forward to it again by this year.

I know that November 1st is coming up next week, but I find I’m more excited that people will be bringing their kids into the office to trick-or-treat on Friday than I am about starting NaNo on Sunday.

Rhonda’s post about that same lack of enthusiasm started me thinking. (Always dangerous, my brain hates me.) My first NaNo was in 2005. Somewhere around mid-month, I stopped writing. I had, however, taken a couple of months off work at the end of the month, and wrote the last half of the book in a couple of days.

It was insane, and so much fun that I was pumped for the next year. The next year, I decided to force myself to a less insane strategy, and tried to keep a more moderate pace. The year after that, I managed a huge start, and then tried to hit the 50,000 mark early in the month. The year after that… was the “meh” one.

I think last year was the first time since 2005 that I didn’t have an additional goal, and I’m starting to suspect that played a role in my lack of enthusiasm.

NaNo, for me at least, is a challenge to myself. Sometimes it’s a little insane, like trying to finish the novel in the last three days, and sometimes it’s a little more structure, like trying to eliminate burst writing sessions. Hitting the word count isn’t really where my problems are, and so I no longer consider that a challenge. Right now, I think one of my biggest problems is motivation (getting my butt in the chair), and unfortunately, NaNo on its own doesn’t seem enough to provide the push I need to overcome it.

But I think it can. I just need to tweak the challenge to myself a little bit.

I don’t like working on one project at a time. I’m not sure how many of you actually knew that, but it’s true. I used to always have two or three things on the go, and while it meant they remained WIPs longer than they might otherwise have done, I made progress on them. I like being able to switch from one to another and let ideas and scenes build up in the background while I clear out the ones that have pulled to the front. Somewhere along the line, though, I stopped doing that.

Now, when I have the temptation to start working on something else, I have the, “but you should be working on this” inner voice, and in the end, I work on nothing. Because that’s the solution right there.

Inner voices that grind work to a halt have no place in NaNo. It may not be my inner editor talking (although it may be), but I think this is a good excuse to gag whatever it is.

So, I think my NaNo goal this year will be to multi-task on multiple projects. Since I have three I want to work on, each at a different stage in the process, they’re the ones I’ll choose.

Project #1: Shitty First Draft. Goal: 50,000

This will be my official NaNo participant, and the only words that will count towards winning there.

Project #2: Overhaul and Re-write. Goal: 25,000

This won’t complete project, but I want to have more structure and maybe even description, so I’m going to try taking it slower. By the end of NaNo, I’d like to have established a routine that I can continue with it.

Project #3: Line Edit and Revisions. Goal: Total # of pages.

This one is mostly done, though I’ve decided to remove some elements and scenes, which will require some cleaning up. I don’t have a copy with me right now, so I don’t know how many pages it has, but I’ll use that as a count. I’ll consider a page done when it has been reviewed, revised, and double-checked. Since that means going through it at least twice before I can start counting off, this metre won’t change much at the start.

We’ll see if this helps. Or drives me insane.

But I welcome the possible insanity, since that’s a part of what NaNo is all about!

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by | Oct 27, 2009