The first weekend of my first year doing NaNoWriMo is now at a close and it’s been a good one. Not quite as awesome as I had hoped, but I think I was a little overambitious really, especially given that I beat goal every day during the week, which means I came into this weekend with a fair amount of output already done. I think there’s really only so much my brain is willing to do before it tells me where to go and how to get there. I also noticed something this weekend that I will share after I’ve reported the numbers.
So, I went into the weekend at 8438, definitely a head of pace. I knew I could beat 10k this weekend, the only question for me was how much would I beat it by. There is no question that I beat pace both days, putting in 2208 and 2544 on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The novel now stands at 13190.
Right at the moment, I am both amazed and frightened by that number. I’m amazed primarily because it’s still going well, and I’m finding the pace number sitting in the front of my brain is making me sit down and write even when I would normally hedge and end up not doing so (and feeling guilty later about not writing when I should be). Frightened because I am now realizing that this will likely go well beyond 100k by the time I’m done. I really, really hope I’m wrong about that, but I feel like the story has barely begun, despite being 13k words in. I mean, my two protagonists haven’t even met, damn it! This is going to take longer than I expected to finish and I am presently refusing to even think about the concept of editing the monstrosity it may become in that case. Having said that, it may not be as bad as I’m thinking (panicking about) right now. Part of the reason that it’s taking so many words right now is because they haven’t met yet. I’m covering the same period of time twice, really, so we can see what they’re both doing, since both sides are important. Once they meet up (in a couple chapters, maybe three), that will stop and I’ll only have to go through a given period of time once for pretty much the rest of the book. I hope I’m right about that.
Okay, so, on to the observation I made this weekend. I know you’ve all been dying to hear what it is, practically screaming at your screen for me to get on with it. I know. You know what I said above about the pace number making me sit down and write every day? Well, there’s another side to that coin, like everything else in life. I find that having a production quota (yes, using a different term here for a reason) is putting some pressure on me that sometimes makes it hard to keep my head focused on just writing it all. I find myself checking word count ever couple hundred words, and calculating how much further I have to go before I can call it a night. And it’s not just this weekend that it’s been happening, it’s been going on since Thursday. I’d be worried about that, but there’s another dimension to this phenomenon. As soon as I hit/just pass that 1667 mark, I don’t quit for the night even though I know I can. Every time, I keep going, and not by just a few words. According to the NaNo website word tracker, where I am putting my totals in every day, I am currently averaging 2198 words per day. That means I’m beating pace, on average, by over 500 words. Thinking about it, I haven’t been under 2k words on any day except the first, which was close enough at 1931 that I think I’m willing to do a gimme on that (golf term, anyone who doesn’t know it can look it up).
So what seems to be happening is that, once I’ve done the struggle, met the goal and taken the pressure off, I am able to cut loose with another couple of pages (or way more in the case of today). It seems odd, but it’s also very me. I don’t react well to pressure, never have. It’s more likely to cause me to go in the opposite direction really. But when there’s no pressure, when I’m free to do whatever I want, it all just seems to flow and I find my ability to concentrate returns. So I’m just going to keep going with it. Not like I have a lot of choice, but I’m not going to worry when I find myself checking word count obsessively, I’ll just do what I need to do to hit pace and then see how far over it I’ve vaulted. The approach seems to be working, and I’m not messing with it. That’s part of why I wanted to do NaNo, to see if the pressure cooker that is this whole crazy ride might help me find my process finally, and I’m not going to screw up that possibility by looking at what happens with the prejudice of what I think it should be, because clearly what I think it should be isn’t working for me, given I’ve never finished a novel to date.
Tomorrow is the last day of the first week (defined in this usage as a 7 day period, rather than Monday to Sunday) and I’m feeling really good pulling into it. I’ll probably do my usual 2k-ish tomorrow, which will put me in the 15k vicinity and with the story so far unfolding more or less as planned, with the occasional detail changed or added. I can be a bit flexible, but I don’t want to derail from my outline entirely, since I’m kind of counting on that to get me to the end of the book. Steady as she goes, as they say.
One final note before I hit publish and sign off for the night. Please feel free to comment on this or other posts, anyone reading this blog (though I do prefer constructive comments). Sometimes it’s nice to hear thoughts other than mine. I’ve already heard most of what I have to say, which makes it a little boring. Just my subtle hint to my readers, no pressure, no obligation. 🙂