Flunking NaNoWriMo, Finding a Writing Rhythm

Maybe Next Year!

Maybe Next Year!

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).

freedom128Good 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!



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5 Responses to Flunking NaNoWriMo, Finding a Writing Rhythm

  1. I would say that you succeeded at NaNo, Jennifer, even though you didn’t “win.” You figured out where your story is going and it is now flowing. Hope your back holds out! (My shoulders are aching at 2:42 in the morning after hours of editing.)
    Kassandra Lamb recently posted..10 Ways to Make Your Imperfect Holiday a Happy OneMy Profile

  2. Perhaps NaNo is not for everyone Jennifer. Yet, there’s a lot of things we can take away from our experience with NaNo. If your a historical fiction/fantasy writer, you’ve got to have all that research done ahead of time to even think of making the word count. Yet, that isn’t any guarantee either. It may be a situation as you described above. And if it will have a bearing on your plot and character, you have to stop and do what’s needed for the betterment of your story. I don’t see failure at all on your part. You tried your hand at it and learned a great deal. I think that’s a win/win experience! Good for you girl! 🙂
    Karen McFarland recently posted..The Hay Isn’t Just In My Jeans!My Profile

  3. Jess Witkins says:

    I don’t think you failed at NaNo. More words is better than no words at all. And I’m right there with ya. I stopped about 13,000 some in. I had other opportunities arise that have been amazing and I’m glad I took them versus stressing over NaNo. But I still managed to get a lot of new words and ideas out there. It’s all about finding what works, like you said, and maintaining that rhythm. Good luck to you! Happy writing!
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  4. Jennifer Jensen says:

    Thanks, guys. I know, “flunking” NaNo isn’t the end of the world, and I got some good stuff done. But having “won” (finished at 50K+) several times, I had high expectations. I’m not sure NaNo will fit into my schedule in future years – November turns out to be big for marketing now that I have a book out – but boy, I’ll never try it with a historical again!

    Keep writing, all!