07 December 2011

My NaNoWriMo Post Mortem

So, my 4th NaNoWriMo has come and gone. Standing on this side of the event, it feels great to have outlined and written, well almost written - 5 more scenes to go, another story in two months. I love the energy that comes with writing something new, that's my favorite part of the process.

Since this is my fourth time playing along, it's a good time to assess what worked and what didn't this go around. So, in the spirit of my ol' engineering days, I've done a post-mortem look at this year's NaNoWriMo experience. For those not familiar with a post-mortem -- it's an assessment of what happened during your event/process for what went well or poorly so then the team/individual can keep the good practices and not repeat the bad ones. Here is mine...

The Bad:
  • I can't type in a moving car with a sinus headache.
    • To do: Learn how to effectively use the iOS Dragon dictation software so I'll be prepared for next time I'm stuck in a car for large amounts of time and can still be productive.
  • I let too many distractions get in the way, i.e. FB, Twitter, email.
    • To do: Work on my discipline.
      • Keep away from those sites while working. I know I've said this before, just goes to show that we all have our weaknesses.
      • Corollary: During writing time, ONLY use the internet as a tool for researching bits for the story.
  • My half paper, half digital prep work system didn't work so well, it took too long to find names and character traits. 
    • To do: Digitize all pre-work and add to Scrivener before starting the first sentence.
The Good:  
  • Even with unexpected travel out of town and weekends off,  I can write 50k in a month.
    • It was nice to discover that with large chunks of time taken away from writing, I could meet my goal. However, making the necessary compromises (giving up exercise time, time away from the kids and husband) is not a sustainable practice for me.
      • To do: 
        • Write when able. 
        • Be flexible.
  • With all three kids in school, I can crank out 4k words before they get home, if all I do is write while they are gone. (Read: no internet, no cooking, no cleaning, no shopping.) 
    • To do: Treat writing more like a paying job EVERY month, not just NaNoWriMo. I'd probably be amazed how much I can get done ... like finish those darn revisions that are waiting.
  • My husband and kids are awesome for supporting me and letting me take some of our family time to catch up on writing. 
    • To do: 
      • Thank them for their support. Over and over again.
      • Keep this time borrowing to a minimum.
  • I started to recognize when a story wasn't working for me, like when I was spending more time on the internet/FB/Twitter or reading artist bios on Pandora. During those times, I had to push through and let the story go where it wanted to go, and thus capture my interest again.
    • To do:  Continue to recognize these times and just let the story flow.
Now I have a mini-checklist to keep close by to help me stay on track.

NaNoWriMo, like Life, can be viewed like a game. So, after everything is said and done, my biggest take-away is ... Play full out, have fun, and when I have to sit out, do it with grace and poise.

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