Sunday, 2 December 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 - A post match analysis

A few months ago, I came across this blog post on how to write 10k a day, by the author Rachel Aaron. In the post, she wrote about documenting each of her writing sessions in a progress table, and I loved that.

Ever the spreadsheet geek, I took on this process myself, back when I was writing my last WIP "Brothers", and I'm sure I'll use it for all my future projects. Here's how my NaNoWriMo progress table looked, in its entirety:

I should probably point out that the majority of these details were worked out AFTER I finished NaNo. Whilst writing, I focused only on when I wrote, where I wrote, how long I spent writing and how many words I managed. The rest I worked out later. I'd have run screaming from it otherwise!

There was also an extra column titled "comments". I would briefly summarise my thoughts at the end of each writing session, but I shan't bore you with those obscenities!

When I look at it, all laid out like this, it's a bit of a double-edged sword. 

Part of me is like "Amazing... look how easily I breezed through NaNo this year. I even skipped a few days. What's more, I didn't even spend more than three hours writing on any given day. Plus, I got most of it out of the way in the mornings before work and on my lunch hours. I must be much more experienced as a writer compared to last year."

The other part of me is saying: "Look at the state of that. Four minutes you wrote one day, and on a Saturday, no less! That's premium writing time! I don't care how bad your headaches were. Do you know what this whole exercise tells me? You can do better. You must do better. You could have pushed yourself a lot harder."

It's hard to compare it to last year's NaNo without a similar progress table, because I know for a fact if I hadn't documented my progress this year, do you know what I'd have thought?

I'd have thought I was constantly working on the novel. That I'd spent so much time and effort agonising over it. That I must have worked so hard if I finished the NaNo early. I mean, the early finish speaks for itself, doesn't it?

I have learned a lot about my writing with the progress tables. I've learned that I get distracted easily by phone calls and "lose my mojo" at the slightest disturbance. I've learned that my morning pages and lunch-hour writing sessions are invaluable to me. I've learned that I let myself off "writing duty" far too easily, but that I feel guilty and make up for it with great enthusiasm at the next writing session. 

I have learned that I much prefer the word "learned" to "learnt". There's something not right about that word. Anyway...

Most importantly, I've spotted many areas for improvement. If I add an evening writing session to my morning and lunch hour sessions, I'd be pretty happy with that. I can still make time for reading at night and... housework *shudder*. 

There's loads of writers out there with full time jobs and twelve kids to look after and they still churn out eight books a year (warning: slight exaggeration). So it won't kill me to keep stepping up my efforts.

Again, I'm so grateful I took part in NaNoWriMo and think that anyone who criticises it is a numbskull. I'll take part in it every year, even when I'm outselling Danielle Steele and swimming in literary awards... *ahem*.

Where do I go from here? Well, I'm saving that for the next #IWSG post on the 5th, as it's sure to be angst ridden and fraught with dilemma.

In the meantime, I'm just going to get on with my writing journey, and wish all you writers every success in yours.

Catherine x


Julia Munroe Martin said...

I love this! I didn't participate in NaNo but over the summer I wrote the first draft of a novel I'm now querying -- and I kept hand-written notes about my progress, and it really helped me get more writing done. Next time I may use a spreadsheet, much tidier and more to track! Nice!

Kyra Lennon said...

I love the idea of a chart like this but I am sure if I actually had one, I'd forget to fill it in lol!

Suzanne Furness said...

The chart looks very impressive. Well done with your achievements.

LindaC said...

I am full of admiration for anyone who can complete NaNo. And how on earth do you write before work? I've tried getting up an hour early to do an hour's writing and it kills me for the rest of the day - I literally ache with fatigue. So, hat off to you! Well done - don't be hard on yourself, there's no way anyone who can write 50K in 30 days is slacking!

Anne Mackle said...

Love your chart,you clearly have too much time on your hands. The time it took you to fill it all in you could have written a short story.
Seriously Catherine you have done so well and I'm still waiting to read your book.

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