I confess. I fell off the bandwagon.
I previously shared how I was doing my own version of NaNoWriMo in February. More of a commitment to writing than setting deadlines and goals, because deadlines and goals = anxiety and failure for me. I will never be good at NaNoWriMo, butt-in-chair advice doesn’t work for me (waves at fellow intuitives).
My goal in February was to finish my first draft. I didn’t actually have delusions of being able to finish in the month, I have far too many commitments and children and jobs for that. But I committed to making writing a priority, and doing it every day.
Did I succeed? Did I win?
I discovered the flaw in the index card plotting method. Cats. Cats are the flaw. pic.twitter.com/IXV6sY6k2U
— M. D. Flyn (@mdflynwriter) January 10, 2017
Well I came out of it with a 25,000 word exploratory draft. There was a lot of word vomit, so I can’t call it a first draft. There are big holes in there. But I covered all of my plot points, included the stuff from my index cards, and went from start to finish. It still needs lots of fleshing out and worldbuilding. It will get bigger before it gets smaller, hence calling it an exploratory or discovery draft. Bonus is feeling like I’m an explorer, with a safari hat and everything.
The drawback to February is flu season. I do not recommend getting the flu. I caught multiple things this year. No fun. I did write every day, but sometimes I just journaled for 10 minutes. My brain was too fried for cohesion or coherence. I wrote 39,000 words for the month, including draft, journaling, and worldbuilding. Not too shabby. My total for January was 13,000, so something worked.
A couple things I learned:
I get bogged down and once I get frustrated I am easily distracted. This spirals into grumpiness and lack of progress. I have to learn to recognize when I’m stuck and move to something else. Always, when I go do something related, like a backstory, I can go back to the original task and it starts coming.
Beta readers who are family are no good, they never read your piece. You wait, vibrating with impatience, until you turn to dust.
I absolutely can’t write fiction every day. There just isn’t enough time. In fact 2 or 3 days a week I have absolutely no time. I compensate by timeblocking and moving sessions to other days that have room. So I am still doing 7 sessions a week, my wordcount goal being 1300 words each (a lofty but not unobtainable goal). I might just journal on my phone while waiting somewhere, but I do write every day. Just not things where I need to apply my creativity.
— M. D. Flyn (@mdflynwriter) January 22, 2017
The Pomodoro method is very helpful for me. I combined this with the paper clip productivity method. I get a pretty rock in my bowl for every 17 minutes I write without distraction or interruption. Twitter or dealing with children counts against me. Staring at the wall thinking counts as writing, as long as something comes out at the end. 20 minutes is too long, I have a ferret-scale attention span. 15 minutes is too short, I can’t always get anywhere. Sometimes I ignore the breaks.
I was wrong, I wasn't done with my stare-at-the-wall-and-think. pic.twitter.com/DmPQlL6aST
— M. D. Flyn (@mdflynwriter) January 24, 2017
I really like to listen to Pandora when I’m writing. This means I need the wifi. I turn my phone to silent, so it doesn’t buzz and distract me, but turn the media volume up. I run Pandora on my phone. I disconnect the wifi on the laptop. This way I can listen to my music online without the temptation of the Twitter.
The decaying word count tracker worked out ok. The problem is if you miss a day it starts snowballing on you. So my chart started looking scary when I got sick. Luckily, I vastly overestimated how many words I needed for my draft. I’m still new at this, I had no idea what I should be aiming for.
So, if you’ve done AnyNoWriMo, tell me:
What is your biggest writing takeaway? What is the best tip you have learned?