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NaNoWriMo and The Way I Work

NaNoWriMo 2013 is over a week underway, and so far so good.

I’m a little ahead of where I need to be in terms of word count and I’m really enjoying my story! I think “pantsing” this story was definitely the way to go, as I’m constantly surprised along the way. It’s a little scary too – when I start a plot point and am not sure how it’s going to play out. I have to just wait until I get there and see what happens!

All of this writing over the last week has got me thinking about the way I work, because while I’m doing NaNo I have to stretch myself a bit. Some thoughts:

A Little Each Day or A Lot Every So Often

My work style tends to be that I like to write a (relatively) small amount each day, but write almost every day. I don’t get too tired this way and I always feel refreshed when I sit down the next day to write.

In contrast, although I have been writing everyday since November 1, I’ve been writing amounts that are larger than what I usually write.

I’m pretty comfortable writing 1000 words in a sitting, which takes me about an hour, but for NaNo I’ve been trying to write at least 2,000 words per day and I’ve had some days where I’ve written over 3,000.

For some writers, these amounts in a day or in one sitting aren’t bad at all, but for my little plodding fingers, feels like a lot. I’m definitely more tired after writing 2,000 or 2,500 words at a time than I am writing a thousand, but if I’m going to hit 50,000 words for the month some part of my normal process has got to give, and what’s giving is the amount i’m writing in a day.

The Space Between

Another reason I like to write a little each day is that it provides me with a lot of space between writing sessions.

I can write in the morning, finish up what I want to get done for the day and not have to think about it again until the next morning.

I like that gap because I feel refreshed the next time I sit down to write. And I like to think that my subconscious is working away on the story while I’m doing other things, so when I sit back down again I’m better prepared to continue telling the story than I would have been had I been slaving over it.

I’ve found myself wanting to get away from my story, wanting more separation from it since I’m not getting as much of a gap between writing sessions. And I’m enjoying my story! But even still, I want more space from it.

Early Birds and Night Owls

I’m definitely a morning person and this information is not new to me. No matter what I’m doing, I simply have more energy in the morning, so, if at all possible, I like to write early in the day – no later than lunch time.

Again, NaNo has forced me to go outside my comfort zone here, and what I’m finding is that I definitely can write at other times of day, it just doesn’t feel as good.

And, no matter when I write or how good I feel, when I go back through and read what I’ve written I can’t really tell the difference, so this may just be a matter of morale for me.

I feel good when I write in the morning, so when I write in the morning I feel good. And feeling good leaves me in better spirits about the story as a whole and about life in general.

It’s nice to know that I can write anytime and have it be decent. It’s just interesting to me that maybe writing when I have the most energy simply leaves me feeling better overall.

With or Without Others

I think what has surprised me the most over the past eleven days is how much I enjoyed writing along side of other people, as I often think that one reason I’m drawn to writing is because I enjoy working by myself.

Last week, I attended a “write-in” with maybe fifteen or so other writers and found it really enjoyable and motivating.

I had never, not once, written in the presence of other people who are also writing, so I was pleasantly surprised. I thought I might not be able to focus as well (not to mention that it was in the evening), but I found that pretty easy.

So what I’ve learned about my work process so far is that I can work outside it, but there is a reason I have a preferred work process to begin with: for enjoyment.

Thinking about all the above sections, with the exception of writing with others, I would choose my way over any other way if given the choice. It’s simply what I enjoy the most.

And as far as writing with others goes, this is one of the reasons why NaNoWriMo is so great. It affords you the opportunity to have camaraderie with other writers, which is saying something considering how solitary writing is.

I think this is a great addition to my work process. 🙂



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