November 7, 2011

nanowrimo update 11/7/11

National Novel Writing Month promises to be 30 days and nights of literary abandon, and if you stay on target, it doesn't disappoint.

But unless you live in a shell with no contact to the outside world, and your whole life is your novel, you'll find that a lot of life can happen in that time, too.

That's what I've found during my first week of NaNoWriMo 2011. Life can and will happen, and no matter how much you prepare you may find yourself surprised. This week had real highs and lows for me in terms of production and emotions. I mean it. I hit my absolute bottom a couple of times, and I was not sure I would be able to rally, but I'm pleased to say I did.

Nov. 1 began well enough. At 12:01 a.m., I opened up a Word document and typed the working title of my novel and started Chapter One. After 500 words I went to bed with plans to continue the next day. I met two friends and fellow NaNoWriMo participants at a local coffee shop that evening and worked for several hours. I finished the day with about 3,500 words. To finish Nov. 30, the NaNoWriMo creators suggest you write 1,667 words per day, so I was feeling great.

I stayed on pace Wednesday, again meeting a friend at a cafe that evening, and reached 5,500 words. Thursday, I gave myself a break and wrote 500 words, and Friday I wrote another 1,000 bringing my total to 7,000 words. At this point, I was still a few hundred words ahead of schedule, but I was losing momentum.

Saturday, I wrote zero words. I was officially behind. But Sunday, I woke with determination to write, and as of 5 p.m., I was at 10,250 words, putting me back ahead of the target by 250 words.

My main goal this week is to achieve more balance, but I must remember not to be discouraged if I get behind schedule, because sometimes life happens.

Not to make excuses for myself, but last week was a stressful one. I had a few major projects to handle at work, which left me tense from 8 to 5 every day. By Friday, I was not just feeling upset at work, but outside the office, too, which I hate. I'll admit I even fell off the wagon for my No Drink November. I did not overindulge, I drank one margarita and two beers total, and not in one sitting, but still.

Even more upsetting was that we had a mouse in our house all week, and we were unable to catch it. People laughed at me all week, because I was overly dramatic about it. But I hated the idea of having a brazen rodent running all over my kitchen counters and having free reign while I tried to sleep at night. I was unable to sleep comfortably, which increased my irritability and frustration even more. If you're on Twitter, you can read about my ridiculous misadventure at #mousegate2011. Looking back, there were some funny moments.

Then Friday night, unable to take it any more, I did a Google search to find ways to catch mice. We already had traps out, and we'd plugged the entrances and exits, but I needed to end it once and for all.

I found a great blog post about a way to create a live trap for a mouse. I was hesitant to believe it could work, because it sounded far-fetched, but dozens of people commented on it to say it worked for them. I set it up, and when I woke Saturday morning (again, after poorly sleeping) I saw the mouse sitting in the trash can. It worked, and I didn't have to live with the guilt of killing the poor thing. I released into the wild several blocks from my home, and almost all of the stress I had melted away. Plus, now I know what to do next time I see one of those pests in my house. I still won't like it, but I'll be able to take care of it stat.

My parents were there to witness my groggy, crazed excitement at this success. Tears streaming down my face, and no shoes on my feet, I ran out the front door screaming, "It worked. It worked." In hindsight, I overreacted to this whole thing, but oh how wonderful it is to have my life back!

Unfortunately, after days of worrying I was too tired to function. I slept well that night and woke yesterday ready to take on the day.

I have to say, I'm glad I took the time to plot out my book ahead of time. It allowed me to start writing Tuesday without having to worry about what was going to happen next. I could focus on the best way to tell the story rather than figure out what I was even writing about.

I also wouldn't have been able to do it without coffee. There's something about coffee that motivates me to write. That's why I try to reserve it only for those moments when I really need to work... which is every day this month.

My main goal for this week is to work through tough moments and take time to relax every day. Even if it's sitting on the couch, cuddling the kittens and taking deep breaths, I need to not stress out so much.

How are my fellow NaNoWriMo participants fairing? Are you reaching your word goals? Any advice you'd care to share? Comment below if you have it.


  1. This sounds like the worst weekend ever :(. I thought my trying to fit in writing while spending time with my parents was hard to do, but I'm pretty sure this experience takes the cake.

    I'm glad you were able to get rid of the mouse, especially without killing it :).

    I'm reaching my word goals. I set aside a chunk of at least 4 hours every day to type out my 3334 daily word goal. If I can't get a chunk of time, I split it up into 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night - both are times when I'm in my bed and no one in the house knows I'm awake, which is the perfect time for me to concentrate on my writing.

    I do have to say, though, that I wouldn't be progressing along as nicely as I am if you hadn't posted those tips about plotting for NaNo with the notecards. Chapter by chapter cards are SO gratifying to use because once you're done with it, you can discard it into the "done" pile and actually see evidence of your progress. So thank you for that post <3. Good luck with reaching your goals and finding balance. I hope you are able to avoid stress this week!

  2. That's awesome, Leesa — 3,334 words a day! You'll be done mid-month at that rate.

    Thanks for the feedback. I've heard from a couple of people who said using the notecard method has helped them. I am delighted they're helping you meet your goals.

    I don't think I'll ever write a book without them again. For serious. My family asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said writing supplies: lots of notecards, post-its and pens. They laughed, but I hope they follow through!

  3. I had a huge weekend with the script performance, and haven't written a word for three days now. But, I knew this going in. Not worried, I plan for ups and downs. Keep writing. One sentence at a time, that's all it takes!! (Mega write in at Perkins tonight ought to help me catch up!)