I admit it: I flunked NaNo this year.
I had great plans of using the month to crank out a down-and-dirty rough draft of Shimmer #2. What I discovered was that a good story (not just a large word count), necessary historical research and a 30-day deadline do not make a good combination!
At about the 10,000 word mark, I discovered a resource that filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge about life in the canal construction camps of the 1830s. Great info, but it also meant stopping to read, re-imagine and re-plot before I could move forward again. And when local book signings and a marketing push on Mother-Daughter Book Reviews took over my brain, and NaNoWriMo went completely kaput.
On the other hand, when I was working on those 10,000 words, I discovered a great rhythm for my writing time!
As many of you know, my back isn’t always nice to me, but it’s much happier when I take regular breaks from the computer to get up and walk around. So I decided to spend 25 minutes writing followed by 5 minutes of walking around the house (adapted from the Pomodoro technique).
Good decision, but how to avoid getting sidetracked?
Minesweeper Historical research beckons, you know! Enter internet-blocking apps such as Anti-Social and Freedom, along with their timers. I set mine for 25 minutes and voila, no Facebook, Twitter, email, or other online distractions until the time is up – and it won’t let me get back into it without re-booting the computer! So even if I want to go browse, I can’t.
And you know what? It works!
As long as I know what’s happening in my scene, I found that I can write 700-900 words in that 25 minute block, and about 600-800 in the next block. I have to know where my scene is going, but as long as I take time to plan that, it’s all very productive. I didn’t succeed in doing three blocks in a row during NaNo, but if I keep at it, that will come too.
There’s a lot more research to do, but now that my historical “daily life” gap is filled, I’m writing merrily away again. Which is a good thing, because I have a commitment to have this book ready for a signing at Conner Prairie in May 2015. Onwards!
Did you succeed at NaNoWriMo? And what writing routine works best for you? Leave a comment, because enquiring minds want to know!