6 things about Nanowrimo 2012

It was surprisingly easy this time around.

I’m a little embarrassed by how easy it was. I guess my life is not really all that busy or I can write like a machine compared to the first time I did Nanowrimo 8 years ago. But it was quite easy. Then I surprised myself by accidentally finishing two days early! These are not meant to be brags! I’m honestly shocked and like I said, embarrassed. I’m embarrassed because I’m hearing ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’s about how I’m writing a novel (which isn’t a big deal because people do it all the time with Nanowrimo) and people make it sound like it’s hard when it’s just not. Not because I’m special, but because people are just making it out to be bigger than it really is. I think? That’s why I want people to do Nanowrimo. So they can see that it’s not that hard. Just like anyone can run a 5K, anyone can win Nanowrimo with the conditions in their favour.

Having cheerleaders helps make it fun and actually get it done.

This year I got to know a group of Montrealers who were doing Nanowrimo as well. I had a lot of fun encouraging them via twitter, writing with them in real life (the one time I was able to make it to a write-in), doing word-wars with them where we’d compete to see how much we could write in 10, 15, or 20 minute time slots. The first time I did Nano, I was keeping it a secret from basically everyone because I didn’t want to be embarrassed by my own failure if that was the case. Being open about it helped so much! I would never do it alone again. That’s torture.

StayFocused was hugely helpful for my focus (thanks, Di!)

My friend Diane suggested the browser plug-in StayFocused. You input the sites you want to block and what days/hours you want them blocked and it will simply not let you on them at those times. It was really revealing how in a split second I could open a new tab and be on Facebook, completely subconsciously! Even after I would just close the window, I’d lose my train of thought and be back. It was actually kind of eerie a few times. StayFocused helped me, well, stay focused.

It turns out I have a lot of free time in the evenings/weekends.

This semester with my husband having to leave by 5:45 every day for class, it means that we eat early. It also means I can get a lot done if I actually have things to do and energy to do it with. I can only think of three days where my story was hard to write and it took me 2 hours to write my 1667 words. Otherwise, I pumped out my word count in an hour and then did other things. The main thing is having motivation to do things with people since I find myself pretty tired from hanging out with people all day long at work.

My favourite thing about Nanowrimo

My favourite thing is the freedom in writing to let the story tell itself. If you sit in on the NanoMTL chat room you’d daily hear someone say “I have a block” and then someone else say “KILL A CHARACTER” with much viciousness. Both times I did Nano seriously, I was shocked at how the story ended up telling itself almost better than if I had painstakingly planned out every scene. I just planned broad stroke ideas. It did the rest. I love that. And no, I didn’t kill any characters (though in my first novel, I burned down an old folks home. Everyone that was healthy made it out safe because I couldn’t bear anyone actually dying.).

Finally: “Can I read your novel?”

People have been asking me if they can read my novel. At this point, I’m probably going to say no – mostly because taking the time to read through it to make sure there are no major plot holes etc. will take time. Writing in 1667 word batches makes for a lot of forgetting what was said/done in the previous section! But I might be persuadable as long as people don’t expect anything close to literature.

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  • Matthew

    Man, now I wanna do this unofficially for December or some month soon. Having a personal hobby that’s not reading (or checking email + facebook) would probably help me stay sane.
    I’m super encouraged to hear it’s not ‘that’ hard, because it has always scared the heck out of me. Or maybe you’re just some kind of maestro.

    • http://jessversteeg.ca Jess Versteeg

      Although the idea of me being a maestro is enticing, I’m confident you can do anything with people backing you who believe in you who also cheer for you, as well as help you stay focused in combination with your own determination. That was a really long sentence – a writing style I have perfected in attempt to use as many words as possible in charging ahead towards 50,000 words. DO IT, FRIEND!

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