Because I am a slave to trends and peer pressure, I decided to do the National Novel Writing Month in November. I thought that after writing Alliances, Empath, The Island, Conviction, Fusion, and bits and bobs of other books in the span of one year, I could totally do it again and finish Beginnings.
I’m not sure what it was, be it a combination of quitting my day job and realizing the thing I used to count as play was now work, and having nothing to fill the play space or simply the fact that I didn’t want to write Beginnings AT ALL, I struggled. It was a pain in the ass even to sit still for five minutes and focus.
Suffice to say, I won’t win NaNo. I did get pretty close (as of writing this blog on Saturday afternoon, I got about 30k down on Beginnings) and it was good to cheer and join in with the rest of the group. But I don’t know if I’ll be doing NaNo again, unless I work on a book that I don’t have to publish or won’t publish for a long time.
The problem with NaNo (For me, your mileage may vary) is that it presumes you simply sit and WRITE and don’t edit. I’m not that kind of writer; I write something then come back and tweak it and then add on once I’ve got the running start. So it irked me when I’d write something and know I needed to fix it, but not wanting to fall backwards on the word count. Especially considering that I didn’t WANT to write this book.
Don’t get me wrong: Beginnings is going to be a fabulous book. It follows Lyssa’s journey from when Tauron kidnaps her until she graduates the Academy. It’s a fitting end to the series because we cover almost all of the parts of Lyssa’s past that the other four books gloss over. I know exactly what I want to write.
But the thing is, I mourned Razia for a few weeks after finishing Fusion. I feel like the series has already ended, and I’m antsy to move onto the next one. While I could, theoretically, end the series with Fusion, I made myself a pact to finish and release a book series by age 30. And dammit, I want to meet that goal with Beginnings.
The Big Picture
I don’t think my lack of focus is 100% due to the subject matter either, because I’ve been antsy while working on The Chasm (the sequel to The Island), too. What I think is that now that I am a full time writer (related: please buy my books), writing now falls under the “work” space in my brain that consulting used to occupy, instead of the “play” space. And that play space was now suddenly vacant of any sort of repeatable activity, other than writing more books. As much as I love writing, I can’t do it for 15 hours a day every day.
So I’ve taken up knitting as my new hobby. I like it because I can zone out and daydream, which is a super important part of my process, and one that I can’t do in front of a screen. So after a long day of writing, I’ll sit in front of the television and knit, and let my mind carry me away.
Back to the original point of this post, I do think that NaNo is a wonderful tool and community. I’m so happy that I took a chance and tried it out, and I’m even happier that I’ve discovered even more about my writing process, which is part of it, after all. At the very least, I was able to use it to write nearly half of the fifth Razia book, and I have to celebrate that considering how much I was fighting it. My end date for the first draft (and 65k-ish words) is 12/15, and I’m fairly sure I’ll get there by then.
To everyone who has won NaNo, or didn’t win, or will win tonight, Congrats! Tell me what you learned about your own writing process in the comments.