Yes, it is true! I won NaNoWriMo 2016! As I noted in my last post, going into the final week I was about 10k behind where my word count should have been. Luckily, for the final stretch I had a few advantages:
1. I didn’t have any pressing freelance deadlines like I had earlier in the month.
2. Though still depressed about the state of the world, I am able to put it out of my mind long enough to focus on fiction for a couple of hours for a time.
3. My cold is pretty much better, except for the occasional runny nose.
Actually, the second one up there is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. In the final week of NaNo I was writing about 3-4 hours a day to make up for lost time. In my frantic dash to the finish line I didn’t have time to do much besides write, which meant I wasn’t spending hours reading articles and op-eds and think pieces about why Trump won or what it might hold for the future. I’m not saying I cut out the news entirely, it’s just this week I had to pare it down (in other words, I had time to read an article but not the comments section). And I believe my state of mind was a lot better for it. I’m not advocating putting your head in the sand and blocking out anything that might upset you. I’ve just found that there comes a point where, in the search for finding some hopeful news, the more I read and the more ‘informed’ I get the more it sapped my will to fight. You have to find a balance between knowing what’s going on but still protecting your time and keeping the will to do something about it.
That said, there is something for escapist entertainment. After seeing my facebook friends go crazy over Yuri on Ice!!! I gave it a try and I. Am. Hooked. I forgot how much a good-natured, colourful anime can cheer me up. Yuri on Ice!!! is like an aloe vera balm for my burned and battered brain.
Plus it’s one of those shows that focus on the characters working hard to achieve their goals, so even as a distraction it still gave me a lot of motivation to keep writing.
Now, as for the writing itself… Basically I got through this thanks to the Write-Ins. Throughout the month I always wrote more at the Write-Ins thanks to peer pressure- it’s just looks bad if you’re the only going clicking on Facebook posts while everyone around you is typing away. That communal spirit of NaNo is something I love most about it (luckily, my NaNo group holds write-ins year round. Wheeee!). I spent most of last week in coffee shops with the other NaNoers: Sunday: Pret. Monday: Pret. Tuesday: Costa. Wednesday: Caffe Nero. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much on coffee. I got so tired of lugging my laptop around. I was writing around3k-4k a day.
But in the end… I did it!
Now, you might say “But Shannon, what about the novel itself? How did it turn out?” To which I would say “Silly rabbit, don’t you know that NaNo isn’t about turning out something of quality but churning out a vast quantity in a short time?” That said, I am actually very happy with what I wrote this month. One thing I’ve always struggled with in longer works is pacing. Most of the time what I write is short, snappy stories: 250 words, 600 words, 800 words, 1k. Flash fiction. Stories where you can not have any unnecessary words. But in NaNoWriMo you are going to write a lot of unnecessary words. Having to spend time with the setting and characters and making myself bulk up the descriptions of things actually helped me get into a writing style that is better for longer works. I hit the 50k mark just at I was finishing what I consider to be the end of act 1 (or, if we were to go with a five act structure, maybe the end of act 2). Obviously I still have a lot to write but I’m actually really pleased with myself to have something so substantial, rather than an anemic first draft.
I do still plan on finishing this book, but December brings with it new challenges and deadlines of it’s own. For starters, I have to learn how to write in a whole new medium… but that will be fodder for a future post.
Tags: anime, NaNo 2016, Writing