Final Day, Final Thoughts

Firstly, congratulations to all you who reached the 50,000 word goal today (or earlier in the month). You are gods among men.

I didn’t finish. I didn’t even get halfway. My piece stopped at the grand total of 22,244 words. They are words that I will probably never look at again.

I’d like to list a few possible reasons as to why I didn’t finish. This isn’t an attempt to make myself feel better…at least, I think it isn’t. I’m not so good with psychoanalysis, so it may refer to some (not so well) hidden wish to justify myself.

As someone who is used to pushing towards success, even when that success is hate-fueled, grueling and yields terrible results, I kind of want to know why this year was different. And I came up with the following reasons. Maybe these are reasons that others can relate to as well.

1. The Thesis of Doom. This one is obvious. I am a champion freak-outer, and I have been alternately relaxed and panicked about my thesis for the past six weeks. It didn’t help that I think I’ll be changing a significant portion of it to reflect some new discoveries. I know that Nanowrimo is designed for people who don’t have all day to write, but sometimes when you’re swamped with work, you wade and wade and wade…and find more swamp. For me, that’s just how things were this month.

2. I didn’t have the proper motivation. What was the point of writing 50,000 words? For me, not much. Because, in every other year, I’d written junk while hoping for gems, this year I decided to take a different approach and attempt to hone my novel-writing skills without publication as that end goal. As a result, when I started on November 1 I knew that a) my prose would probably be terrible and b) I didn’t want to fix it. So why put in the effort of so many words in such a short span of time? Earlier in the month I wrote a post in which I stated that the point of Nanowrimo is to write a novel, not to publish one. I stand by that, but  once I realized that I wasn’t trying to write something even vaguely publishable, something in me kind of gave up. Really, there was no point.

3. Finishing things seems to be my kryptonite. This is a problem that I’d better get over before I need to hand in my thesis. But it’s true. When I was in high school, I wrote three finished manuscripts in about a year and a half. One of those was for Nanowrimo. Now, I only start things, get sidetracked, and never come back to them. My Nanowrimo novel of two years ago was a completed manuscript, but I cringed whenever I went back to edit it. And since then I haven’t written anything of length that has a beginning, a middle and an end. That’s going to be my next obstacle in writing – once I get the thesis of doom out of the way.

4. I had no competition. I hate to admit it, but in certain ways I can be extremely competitive. I don’t like having a lower grade than my classmates (the same grade is fine), and I don’t like failing when others achieve, particularly when I am certain that I can do it. What drove me to complete Nanowrimo the very first year that I participated was the knowledge that one of my classmates had finished halfway through the month. Part of me just couldn’t bear the idea that she could win and I couldn’t. So I did. This year, the social part of Nanowrimo didn’t work out so well for me, for a number of reasons. And the nanoers that I did have contact with weren’t going to finish either. So I didn’t feel the pressure to do it myself.

So, I didn’t finish Nanowrimo this year, and I’m okay with that. I’ve always known that some years I’ll finish, and some I won’t. And I learned some things about myself along the way that will hopefully lead to a more productive Nanowrimo next year.

Now, we can go back to our regularly scheduled programs, read books, write at a leisurely pace, and dream fondly of next year.

Happy End of November, everyone!

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Day Twenty-Three

Whew. It’s been a long time since I was on here. Comparatively, anyway.

Guys, I have come to grips with the fact that I won’t be finishing my novel this year. I think I am at peace with it. If not, you’ll see some spectacular word counts in the next few days…but I’m not even at 25,000 words. So I get to make up the other 27,756 by November 30?

I could do it, in theory. Stranger things have happened. But let’s not get too optimistic here.

I’ve been ruminating on exactly why I am likely to fail this year. More specifically, I’m ruminating on where exactly I can place the blame so that it lands on someone else. Because at the end of the day, I have some issues as a writer that I need to work on.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – I’ve still got 6 days!

Mood: resigned (and sick, and sick of working)
Word Count: 22,244 (not bad for a month’s work, really)
Music: Trollolo song (blame my boyfriend)

Day Twenty

Well, I promised myself that I would post once a day throughout November as part of a way to track my progress. For the first time in the month, I missed a day yesterday.

It’s okay. Nothing happened, really. I met with my thesis professor and took today off to do a little writing. Unfortunately, I truly did do only a little writing. I hardly got any sleep last night and I have been sick for a few weeks now, so I wasn’t exactly my usual perky self. But enough with the excuses! I’m back on the horse, and will begin again with my posting of word counts. They’re going to be pretty dismal, I think. At least until I find a day to do a whooooole lotta writing.

Now I am going to try to drown myself in ginger tea. All that longhand writing I did today will have to be typed up tomorrow.

Actually, there’s an interesting question. When I took out my notebook at the cafe this afternoon, my writing buddy laughed at me. But who else prefers writing longhand sometimes? I find that even though I go slower, I can get into a groove more easily because I’m not being distracted by facebook, emails, skype, webcomics or kittens. Or sloths. Sloths should be the new kitten meme.

On the other hand, when I type up all that stuff I wrote today, I’m going to be highly disappointed that it didn’t reach even a thousand words. I mean, it was four solid pages!

Happy writing, guys.

Day Seventeen

I guess this is technically the second day seventeen post, because I was stupid last night and labelled my daily post wrong. This is what happens when you try to write blog posts at 2 AM, people. After a full day of translating Ancient Egyptian.

My big day is Monday, so tomorrow is hopefully the last day that I’m going to be postponing my novel. Then I get to play the super exciting game of catch-up. I also get to discover the future of my thesis. So wish me luck for tomorrow and Monday! And good luck yourselves with all your writing projects!

Day Fourteen

I’ll be honest, not much has happened today. I’m behind on words, behind on my thesis, and I can’t even get my internet to work, which is a royal pain.

I’ve done lots and lots of thinking about my novel today, but not so much actual writing. Which means that tomorrow, when I have more time to write, I probably won’t remember anything that I thought about today. That’s me. My mind’s like a sieve.

I have a big thesis deadline on Monday, so I’ll be working through the weekend. No rest for the wicked, and all that. Wish me luck! And then maybe I can get back on track. And I hope everyone who’s on or around the halfway point just now is celebrating – reward yourself! – and all those people who are finished with their novel, or even have (gasp!) more than 50,000 words…well, don’t post about it here. It will only cause me to mutter resentfully. Such elusive productivity is certainly nothing to boast about, especially in front of procrastinators.

Hope November is still looking positive for you all!

Day Thirteen

I am only two days behind. That’s not so bad. A girl can catch up in a couple of days, if she applies herself.

My boyfriend and I are both participating in Nanowrimo this year. Earlier this evening, he said that the reason I was likely to succeed at Nanowrimo and he wasn’t was that he couldn’t write while he was at work, and I could write during the day, while I was at university.

“I don’t write when I’m at university,” I told him.

“You don’t?” he said, aghast.

I try to separate working and relaxing, especially at university. I can’t study at home for a number of reasons and so I want to maximise my productivity at uni by not allowing myself to think of it in recreational terms. So I don’t write at university. When I start thinking it’s time to put some words down, it’s usually time to go home.

In my opinion what really separates my boyfriend from me in terms of getting our writing done is this: When we sit down to write in the evenings, I sit down and do it, while he gets distracted on the internet. So while I can write a couple thousand words in a couple of hours, he gets only three to five hundred words done.

It’s very easy in this day and age to get completely distracted by what we can get on the internet. In fact, I have fallen behind precisely because of internet distractions.

And it’s not even necessarily bad to get distracted a little. The brain needs a break sometimes. The problem occurs when the brain doesn’t come back from break. Life has to be something more than one big distraction, and so does Nanowrimo.

So, lesson number 13, as brought to me by my boyfriend: the internet is bad. IT’S BAD. Turn it off for November! Way more will be accomplished. Also, I wills top looking at crazy cute pictures of sloth and wishing I could have one for my birthday.

Mood: quite tired, but not too bad.
Word Count: 18,929
MusicThick as a Brick, by Jethro Tull

Day Twelve

Well, my writing today wasn’t nearly as impressive as yesterday’s sprint. I’ve fallen even further behind. And I was so hoping to make it to the 20,000 mark today. Curse you, Community, for your imminent distractability.

Today I rediscovered the joys of writing longhand. It’s particularly nice to catch a break from the furious typing I’m used to engaging in. The variation gives my wrists and fingers a break, though it’s no softer on my back. Plus, there are fewer breaks. My mind moves faster than my fingers when I write longhand, so I always know where I’m going next. Another great thing about longhand is that you can write and look like you’re taking notes, or write when a computer wouldn’t be viable – on the bus, for example.

The big detractor, for me at least, is that four pages of longhand condenses into less than a thousand words.  What looks so impressive when I’m flipping through my notebook turns out to be no big deal.

I remember when I used to prefer writing longhand. The nice thing about it is that I can really focus on what’s on the page. There are no other internet tabs, no skype messages, nothing calling me insistently away from my story. Unless I’m supposed to be paying attention in class, of course.

I’m hoping tomorrow will provide some nice catch-up opportunities. I should probably stop distracting myself. Maybe I can stick to just the notebook…

Mood: still good, I’m probably just in denial.
Word Count: probably around 16,400? I’m not really sure. That’s not as bad as I thought.
Music: Still Primo Victoria, as warbled by Van Canto. Seriously, that song is amazing. Very epic to listen to while completing boring assignments.

P. S. Does anyone else love the Recommended Tags category in the post-writing section? Right now my recommended tags include the Pope, Catholicism, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. I think this may be the first time I have mentioned any of those things in a WordPress post. Do you think the Pope is doing Nanowrimo? Think he’d run a word sprint with me? I’d totally put that on my CV. Though my nano name, which references Anne Boleyn, might hit a sore point.