NaNo NoNo

My goal with NaNoWriMo this year was to figure out when and how I get the most writing done. I learned what I need to do to focus and where I need to be. I also learned how long I can focus on writing depending on where I am. The biggest lesson of all, though, is that NaNo is not for me.

Write-ins are a major part of the allure, but they were a complete bust this year. Two events were at a venue that can hardly fit a third of our usual attendees. One was in a room very difficult to find if you don’t already know where it is. Another was unbearably hot. Three events were at the same Subway. Despite all that, the B.Good write-in was the nail in the coffin for me.

We took over the lounge area on the second floor of this B.Good, which worked well for us last year. This year, the room was already packed ten minutes before the event started. There wasn’t a place to sit that didn’t require getting up close and personal with someone else. People sat in windowsills and next to trashcans, making it impossible to move around at all. It was uncomfortable and the temperature of the room kept rising the more people squished in.

Ten minutes after I arrived, I handed in my badge and went downstairs to the empty and significantly cooler main room. I sent word to a couple friends who were overheating upstairs, and we had ourselves a mini-write-in under much more pleasant conditions. We all had chairs and could hear ourselves think. There was no goal bell every few minutes, no door prize drawings taking up the last 20 minutes of the event… Just writing with friends. Relaxed, enjoyable, and productive.

I think that’s when I realized NaNoWriMo was no longer for me. It was a great shove for me two years ago, when it finally motivated me to finish a novel instead of starting one and giving up. I have made wonderful friends and couldn’t be happier with my progress. Contrary to a few years ago, I now understand the complex structure of a novel, the nuances that tie everything together and bring fictional characters to life. I have NaNo to thank for that.

I still highly recommend NaNoWriMo for beginning writers who need motivation to finish a first draft. Even for experienced writers, NaNo can add momentum to get more work done. The write-ins can be tons of fun and many of the people are fantastic. NaNo is a fun and crazy thing to look forward to every year. For me, I’ve reached the point of diminishing returns and the activity is more stressful than helpful (mostly because I’m stubborn and refuse to lose. Don’t judge me!)

My big challenge now is to find a way to stay motivated when not given insane goals. 750words is a possibility, but one that requires an Internet connection. I’m open to ideas if anyone has a suggestion. What do you do to stay motivated with your writing?

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About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on December 5, 2011, in Ishy Writes! and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I accomplished 1803 words this year. In a single session, unsurprisingly. Next year I’ll have to come up with a better plan to juggle university and NaNo…

    • Why not try word sprints? Set a timer for 15 minutes and focus only on writing until the timer goes off. 15 minutes is fairly easy to slip into your schedule, even if you are busy with school and/or work. Sneak in a single spring before bed or during breakfast and try to stick to that pattern. It won’t get you to 50k words in 30 days, but it would be a step in that direction.

      • Something like that would probably be effective. I think in both creative writing and in academic I need to get out of the habit of doing things only in concentrated amounts. My 16 and 20 thousand-word attempts in past years have come from doing at least 1667 words all at once each day, which actually led me to fail in my first year after I was forced to break that tempo. In any case, adaptability is key. I think.

  2. Write-ins sound like an adventure. I’ve never been to one, but that’s how I imagined they would be. Some noise when I write is fine. That much…. I think I’d be totally overwhelmed. 🙂

    To keep myself motivated, I usually have three or so projects in the works at one time. Once I finish a draft, I evaluate my interest in that project. If I’m itching to continue playing with it, I continue. If I think I’ll gouge my eyeballs out if I ever have to look at it again, it’s time to bounce over to one of the other projects for a little while. It may take some time to finish anything, but that works better for me.

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