But for the love of money…

…I am pretty confident that I would have been able to complete NaNoWriMo. However, as most freelancers know, it’s feast or famine out there. I saw an opportunity, and I jumped on it. And I maintain that it was totally worth it. That’s because this week, it’s a hard and deep lull.

Truth be told, though, it’s given me a great opportunity to fixate on that plow pose I was mentioning. It’s getting there. 😉

Taking on those projects may have cost me the word count that I needed to complete NaNo, but I did keep track of the work-related writing that I did  in the days following my unofficial drop-out. Those word counts, along with their completion dates, were as follows:

  • 11/20: 7,237
    11/19: 7,776

11/29: 16,282
11/29: 9,367

I also decided to add in the word counts for the other miscellaneous writing that I completed, in addition to the 14,007 that I managed to scrape back up after Miss Kitty did her dance all on the keyboard… Those were:

+14,007 (for NaNo)
(for a grand total of)
58,437 words in November.

Should that count? Hell, no; my novel only has 20-some pages or something like that. That’s not even a long short story. (Kidding.) But I did learn some valuable things while participating in NaNoWriMo, including:

  • Know your limits. Trying to write when you just aren’t up to it is counter productive. You will wind up wasting your time and producing crappier-than-usual-crap.
  • Write in increments. I think that writing in a relay style format worked best for me. An hour on, an hour off. Or two on, one off. Whatever. The fact of the matter is, sitting down until I hit the projected/suggested word goal wouldn’t have worked for me. I needed to bang out multiple days worth of word counts in order to make NaNo fit into my schedule. I imagine that some people had similarly tight turnarounds, and some had days that were wide open. Whatever the case, I think finding a rhythm before the contest begins is worth looking into.
  • Keep up on that outline. Without the outline, it’s not as if all is lost. But in order to give your project a beginning, middle, and end, an outline can really help to keep a body on the right track. I personally abandoned my outline and went on a safari, but I’m sure that if I give this a go next year, my goal will be to stick to a stricture structure.
  • Make time for yourself. It sounds pretty easy, but this contest takes place during the holidays. There is a lot going on–turkeys to be stuffed into ducks and chickens, crans to be berried, and pies to be burnt: prepare yourself going in.  We aren’t doing this to be world famous, or to best our friends, or because we’ll turn back into a cinder-smudged houses servant on midnight November 30 if we don’t finish. It’s a bucket list for a lot of us.  It’s a promise that we made to our nerdy, verbose little selves way back when, and it’s important that we all get a chance to keep it.  So do it, punk! Or else.

There’s more, I’m sure.  Here’s something that I cant recommend for everyone, but that REALLY really helped me: set a timer. I can run sooo long (which anyone who’s ever spoken to me knows). A timer set to no more than 15 minutes was what I gave myself per page. A page shouldn’t take 15 minutes to write; it should take 5-10 for most people, I think. (I’m totally guessing. I imagine that it varies quite a bit depending on how fast a person can type and what kind of tools a person has and what he or she has to say and how much research is involved.)  I shot for 10 minutes.

By doing this, I learned that I was allowing myself to waste all that time. So that’s something that I’m going to carry with me forward. It’s incredible, no matter how well we do one thing or another, how much we can improve and grow.

So that’s the final thing that I learned from this experience: challenge yourself to do something new. Get excited about a style or a topic or a hobby or a person, and make that noun all yours. Study it. Reach out to others and learn about how they were able to master it. There is definitely something about learning new things that keeps us, as people, fresh and interesting.

There: all that to tell you that I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo. But I don’t count that as a loss, and I think that’s a win in and of itself. Write on, comrades! If anyone had any success with NaNo and would like to write a guest post, please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to hear about your experience this year, and about your finished (or nearly finished) project!

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