National Novel Writing Month is now over. Those of you following my Twitter feed know that I didn’t “win” according to the NaNoWriMo rules, but I did exceed my personal goal. As I enter this NaNoWriMo refractory period after banging away at it hard and fast, I am definitely not going to get down on myself for not making 50,000 words, especially since it took me 3 years to write my first novel, and 4 more years of querying and editing to get it published.

So, I thought I would analyze my executive-friendly burndown chart and assess my performance…

This first week, I had a new client to write dating profiles for every single day. I guess no one likes being single during the holidays. Still, I got a good, steady start and got plenty of research done, too. Oh yeah, and I also was finishing editing and publishing The Redheaded Stepchild this week. That was kind of a priority…

This scary series of flatness was the long weekend that we had a houseguest so that we could tailgate and watch my Kansas State Wildcats beat the 4th Texas team in the Big 12 (why can’t they make NaNoWriMo not fall in the middle of college football season?) so I didn’t get a whole lot of writing done. As you can see, there was a nice spike the day I drove our guest to the airport.

I sprinted pretty fiercely this last week. It helped that we didn’t have to go to three different Thanksgiving dinners this year. These lines should actually be a little smoother, but since I logged a lot of my word counts after midnight, they’re a bit choppy.

So, why was NaNoWriMo good for me?

This writing project (which you can read about in this previous post) required that I actually talk to people to research a little bit. Like a lot of writers, I despise talking on the phone, and typically put off phone calls as long as I can. But because I was on a timeline, I didn’t have the luxury of putting it off. I had to pick up the phone, shoot off an email, or (for certain people) send a Facebook message (seriously folks? this is your primary form of communication now?). And keep in mind, I was asking some of them to tell me deeply personal stories of theirs and then getting their permission, as it were, to mass produce and bastardize these memories.

It did exactly what it’s designed to do – got me to just sit down and write. My typical day is writing tech manuals for 8 hours, doing my freelance writing job for a few more hours, so often the last thing I want to do after all that is write more. Not to mention I have to ship my ass to the gym so I don’t degrade into a complete slob and I have to take care of my family (okay, so it’s just my boyfriend and my dog, but this sounds more like an actual task). So having the looming deadline staring me in the face kicked me in the ass enough to just sit down and write, which is what I need.

Why was NaNoWriMo bad for me?

I’m guilty of edit-as-I-go writing. That’s not to say I don’t typically have an extended editing period once the draft is done (I’m not a complete idiot), but NaNoWriMo doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for polishing. Writing that first paragraph and moving on to the next without re-reading the first one twelve times – that’s a challenge for me. It took me out of my comfort zone a bit and forced me to limit the amount of polishing I could do on what I had already written.

Because life got in the way. I know, me and everyone else who signed up. Boo fucking hoo.

All in all, I’m glad I did it and will probably do it again. The stuff that I’ve managed to punch out in this month is pretty kick-ass, even if it’s not as polished as I’d like it to be. It just means my drafts are really just that – drafts.

I still need to actually fill out my NaNoWriMo page, but was too busy actually writing to do it. As a last note, The Redheaded Stepchild is featured in the Women’s Literary Cafe December promotion this week, so please give this a share to help me get more exposure. Gotta pay down those student loans…