Ah, Nano. I’ve had interesting feelings regarding Nano since I first started attempting it way back in 2003. I became aware of it in 2002, but I think during November, so I didn’t actually have a book to write at that point. The manuscript that eventually became End Balance got me my one “win” in 2004. Ten years ago. Chills raced down my spine at that thought. I tried again in 2005 and 2006, but realized that the pressure of Nano was contributing to feelings of burn out. In the years since, I’ve kept my account active, but have not put effort into dipping my toes into the water again. Last year, though, I did consider doing it again as I had begun to achieve a rhythm in my drafting style that would theoretically allow me to win. However, the timing was not in my favor for a number of reasons.
This year, though, as I was plotting out when I would be drafting projects–though I hadn’t decided on *which* projects–I realized that I could schedule myself to draft a novel in November. And I knew I could absolutely win as I’d written two full novels and a few short stories in the meantime. One of those novels was written well ahead of the suggested Nano pace. All without really feeling a strain. This is not to say that some days weren’t grueling, because they totally were. However, because I’ve gotten to know myself, and what works best for me in terms of the time of day that I write and the amount that I write, I have been able to avoid burning out. Which has *always* been my biggest fear with Nano.
As part of my prep for this year, and what I’ve done for my last few projects, I’ve printed out a calendar and written down my daily writing goals. But I do that *after* I block out the days I already have other plans. For example, I went back to my hometown last weekend for a family-ish wedding. I knew I’d have some time here and there Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to write, but I only scheduled myself for 1000 words each day. Part of this was to ease myself back into drafting mode, and part was to accommodate the expectations of visiting with family. However, I forgot my calendar here at home so I got ahead of myself on Monday. This did come in handy this morning as there were some errands I had to accomplish before going into work and I cut the goal for today in half. I’m still 1300 words ahead of my scheduled pace.
This is me, though. I was advising a friend a few weeks ago to give Nano a try because she needs a kick in the butt to start writing. She was focused on winning. I told her to ignore winning. What she needs to focus on is just getting words down on the page. Any amount she accomplishes during Nano is going to be more words than she had at the beginning of the month. And *that* is true for everyone whether you “win” or not.
If you’re participating in Nano this year, good luck! If you finish and “win”, yay!! If you don’t, you still have more words than you started with. But no matter what, EDIT that sucker before you submit it somewhere or self-publish it!