November? Vanished. I hop-skipped over it to the first days of December.

 Where did November go? The short answer is it was gobbled up devoured by the phenom, NaNoWriMo. The goal was to bang out 50,000 words in thirty days which, knowing how slowly I write, was a fool’s errand.

I did produce 38,277 in a little over three weeks, in large part because of public accountability and trying to keep up with my most excellent writing buddies. One of them, Ellen, recounted eloquently in her blog the peaks and pitfalls of her NaNo experience, which eerily mirror mine. In fact, I’ll sum up my November writing marathon with…yeah…what she said.

I went into NaNo a bit differently than most and, though my actual November process was the same, I probably netted very different results than many participants. I ended up with a good 75% of my story spine finished and virtually no throwaway. My plots are typically complex and I tend to write spare on the first draft. So, to say I’m happy with my results is an understatement.

Steven Pressfield recently blogged about the method I used in “Thinking in Multiple Drafts”. I went into NaNo with a detailed outline of the story spine and temporarily kicked the rest to the curb. In other words, the writing focused on the necessary points in the external action and on the protag’s character arc. Period. None of the family angst, no heavy-duty romantic sub plot, no secondary character development. There are placeholders for them, but that’s it. (Here’s where I sing praises for Scrivener, which makes keeping track of this a snap.) And, as I mentioned, I write spare, so there are minimal setting and sensory descriptors. The spine should be complete at 50,000 words and adding in the rest via multiple passes should pull the finished product to 90,000 at least.

Would I attempt NaNo again? Yes, yes, yes! I’d love to schedule it several times a year but, as Ellen mentioned, with lower word count and shorter stints. 25,000 in two weeks seems more manageable. This especially because the lack of sleep required to hit my word count caught up with me. In a couple days, I’ll be coming off the antibiotics for the sniffle that ballooned into bronchitis and laryngitis. My body lets me know in no uncertain terms when to slow down. I didn’t listen. (Erica bops self in head.)

Another wonderful byproduct of NaNo was the local participation in our small town. As a result, there’s talk of forming a writers’ group. This is a good thing because I drove over an hour to participate in my last group, something my business now makes impossible.

So, final verdict? NaNo was a winner for me. Even though I didn’t ‘win’, I did.




5 Responses to Yeah…what she said…and Pressfield, too.

  1. Hehe – more than happy to be of service, Erica 🙂
    So glad you got a lot out of NaNo. Like you, I feel as though I ‘won’ despite not reaching the 50K.

    Seems we should schedule a few 25K two-week bursts among us and report in to each other to hold ourselves accountable…

    I always plan to do multiple drafts as well, although not quite to the extent outlined in the Pressfield post!

  2. Erica Miles says:

    I read your Wrap-Up Post and thought you were channeling me!

    I’m planning on putting a word count widget on this blog now that I’ve seen how effective the NaNo one was in shoving me towards accountability.

    Sometimes Pressfield’s methods do seem extreme, but he’s a great writer. I always take a second and third look at how he works.

    As for the two week “bursts”, just let me know…