December 1, 2012

creative mathematics

Blogger's Note: I can't help but feel this is the most appropriate subject for my 500th post on Change the Word. Serendipity must have been on my side. Not only for the timing, but for making me take a look at the number of published posts today or all days. I just wanted to take a second to acknowledge this and thank all of you for being part of this journey. It has been a ride. With that, back to the regularly programmed schedule. 

You know that song they play in Office Space as the fearless men destroy the evil copier? Here's a link if you haven't. But regardless, today, I truly get what Geto Boys were singing about.

Yesterday afternoon, I finished my third consecutive National Novel Writing Month, this time as a NaNo Rebel. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

For those of you who are familiar with NaNoWriMo, but not the rebel, that basically means that while I wrote 50K new words during the month, I did not necessarily do it with a project started Nov. 1. While I did start a project that day, my word count for it now sits at about 30K words.

Where did the remaining words come from? For one, I wrote a few new scenes for one of my previously completed novels with hopes of getting them a little closer to publication. For the other... I wrote a few scenes for another book that came to my mind this month. I couldn't seem to stop myself from doing it. Perhaps starting off the month working on two projects made it difficult for me to focus completely on one story after I finished adding the scenes to another. Total, that came to about 24,000 words.

And here's a quick confession: Though I consulted my morality board to see what they thought about my taking a few liberties on how I counted my words -- and they unanimously said I should combine all three stories -- and even though I just said being a rebel feels good, it doesn't completely. I'm pleased I was able to do so much writing, but I'm annoyed with myself that I could not focus better. I have done this twice before, and that could be part of the problem. I came into this year's NaNoWriMo feeling pretty smug.

Maybe the fates gave me writing ADD to remind me that this path is never easy, and writing a novel is hard work.

Still, I'm not going to beat myself up about this. Putting too my pressure on myself historically makes it difficult for me to keep working. I shut down and spend my time watching Netflix or getting lost in the depths of Wikipedia. I need to cut myself some slack and appreciate the fact that by this week, I got my groove back and was able to focus on that one story to write.

What matters is how I handle this going forward. I have a previously arranged write-in scheduled for tonight, and I plan to keep plugging away. I also intend to continue the weekend writing hours I started the first week of the month, though I skipped last week with the holidays.

If I manage to keep working on this story through December, none of it really matters. I will feel genuinely good about my progress. I may have successfully completed NaNoWriMo the last two years without creative mathematics, but I also stopped writing both stories until late January or early February in both of those instances.

NaNoWriMo is about writing without inhibitions and creating a story for your characters. Finishing that story matters more to me than entering the winner's circle, though it is nice to be there. 

Congrats to all of you who participated in NaNoWriMo this year. Whether or not you hit 50K at midnight, you're a winner in my books.

My takeaways from this NaNoWriMo:
- Cut yourself some slack. You can make big plans and schedules, but life will always shake those up.
- Hydration is super important, but most of that should come from water and not coffee. I'm disgusted by how much caffeine I drank last month.
- Thermal socks and stocking caps are the greatest comfort when getting comfy.
- Having a soundtrack can set the mood to generate some word count -- especially if it's the kind of music you can get lost in.

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  1. Congrats on your third win! It was largely due to your inspiration that I participated this year (made 52,000 words by the 23rd - would say the novel -first draft, at least - is about 75-80% complete), so I also want to say THANKS!

    1. That's wonderful and amazing! I'm so pleased. Good luck continuing your project. Keep me posted on your progress.