NaNoWriMo 2016: In Summary

NaNoWriMo 2016 has come to a close, leaving me with feelings of simultaneous relief and scrambling to find something to do with all this time. You would think I’d be better prepared for this after fifteen NaNos, but no, I’m still figuring out post-NaNo life too.

First, the thing you probably want to know: I wrote 250,025 words in two novels and made up over 1% of my huge region’s total word count. 250,000 words was my easy-to-remember goal for 2016 NaNoWriMo; this aided me in passing 500,000 words overall in 2016 as well as passing 2 million lifetime words across fifteen November NaNoWriMos. I reached my halfway point on day 19, then fell behind and needed to write 100,000 words in the last six days to finish. I hadn’t written 100k in six days since 2010, and for good reason–it may be even harder than completing a 50k day.

(Fun fact: The first million words took ten NaNos. The second million took five. No, I will not be doing the next million in three.)

NaNoWriMo teaches me something different every year. This year, that lesson is: You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. I did a lot this November. This year and last year in particular have tested my ability to keep going throughout the month, much like 2011, when I also ML’d on top of doing many of the things that happened this year (and with a similar word count to boot).

I spent a lot of time traveling in November. NaNoGiving was the second weekend of November, with a bunch of Wrimos (mostly overachievers) in a cabin in the woods, making food, playing games, exploring the farm, and occasionally writing. I got home on Sunday night, then spent Monday and Tuesday working before leaving for San Francisco on Wednesday morning, where I attended NaNoWriMo’s Night of Writing Dangerously.

While this year’s Night of Writing Dangerously was my least productive one to date, with less than three thousand words written, it (along with the overall trip to San Francisco) was my most fun one. I met so many Wrimos, including several I’ve known online for years (and two longtime fellow Wrimos from England and Japan!). I won a word sprint and drank some Cosmonoveltons. I visited NaNo’s office again and packed their tote bags for NOWD and met even more Wrimos and explored San Francisco and ran nearly 12 miles up and down the hills and didn’t die. And then I went home on Monday, worked on Tuesday, and set out again on Wednesday to see family for Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, all this travel and my mood due to unrelated things in November put a damper in my time leading the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter. I have a hard time leading sprints and multitasking as it is; combining these with my apparently inability to concentrate on writing meant the sprints I led usually consisted of goofing around on Twitter or the forums instead of writing. Since time was at a premium this month, this led to me leading fewer sprints, which made me feel guilty because sometimes I’d see an open spot for sprinting but really need a break from well, everything.

I also found it harder to concentrate on my writing. In the past, I’ve been able to concentrate for lots of word wars and sprints, netting at least a thousand words in fifteen minutes, maybe even ten minutes if I ignore all typos the entire time. This year, this rarely happens unless I leave the house specifically to write. I used to be less productive at write-ins than I would be at home, but this has changed over the last year or two, with write-ins (and generally leaving the house to write) providing with more consistent bursts of writing. This may be related to my shift in how I’ve approached writing over the past few NaNos.

In my earlier years, I would come up with an idea before NaNo, scratch down a little bit of character or plot development, then hit the page writing. This changed over the past two NaNos, when my ideas came at the last minute when panic started to set in, and I couldn’t motivate myself to figure out anything more about the plot or character besides “eh, I don’t know, this character does stuff”. While it worked for one of my novels last year and this year, both drafts of the same novel, it didn’t work so well with the other novels I wrote in 2015 and 2016. Because of having only the vaguest idea of what was happening, I found myself stressing out more, not less. And not having at least some idea of what’s happening makes sprinting more difficult. Maybe I’ll become a planner after all.

Despite (or maybe because of) everything happening this November, NaNoWriMo was still my best one yet, and I’m already counting down the days until Camp NaNo and NaNoWriMo 2017.

How was your NaNoWriMo 2016? Did you reach your goal? Come to an epiphany about your writing? Have a straight-up blast writing?

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