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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