It’s been 10 days since I started MyNoWriMo, my own personal mirror of National Novel Writing Month. Since then, here are the stats:
Starting Word Count: 91,484
Current Word Count: 110,007
Words Written: 18,523
I’m a little behind schedule if I want to hit 150K by the end of the month, particularly since I’ll be camping for three days over Memorial Day Weekend. But I’m so chuffed at having written something over 100,000 words long that I don’t really mind too much.
In addition to helping me get re-started on the novel, MyNoWriMo has been supremely valuable because it’s helped me find a schedule that works. For the past six months, I’ve been trying to balance writing and my 20-hours-a-week contract work, and it’s never really been smooth. I try to do 4 hours of solid work each weekday during the day, so I’m free to write in the evenings, but what often happens is that I spend most of the day procrastinating, or trying to get started with the day job, and often failing, so that when the evening comes I can’t really focus on writing, because an inner voice says “you really should work on the day job.”
I know, right? Most people (especially writers) would probably kill to be in a situation like I’m in, where the part-time job earns you a living wage, but here I was, with even less time to write because I was having so much difficulty mastering that whole “working from home” thing.
At the start of MyNoWriMo, I decided that the term “day job” no longer needed to apply literally, and gave myself permission to be a writer during the day. Now I go to the library each day to write, then come home and work on the day job in the evening, with a rule that I have to do 4 hours of work before I go to bed. This has actually worked much better– I’m more productive at both writing, and the day job.
In addition, by treating writing as a day job in and of itself (which I had thus far failed to do), I’m in essence already living the dream! I’m spending my days as a professional writer. Admittedly, it’s a job that pays downright crap (given what I’ve made so far on short stories, a fraction of a cent per hour), but hey, no one goes into fiction writing for the money.
MyNoWriMo has also been supremely valuable practice for prioritizing: previously, when I had writing time, I would often let myself get distracted by other things: paying bills, planning my social life and my schedule, and various other little tasks that accumulate as part of day-to-day life. Now, when I have writing time, the writing is always the number one priority. I don’t let myself work on anything else.
On top of that, I’m staying focused on one project. Right now, it’s the novel. After MyNoWriMo, it’ll be a short story. But by focusing on one thing, and not spending my writing time worrying about which writing project I should be working on, I’ve also been more productive. Let’s face it, focusing on writing is hard enough without letting distractions get to you.
I haven’t even touched on the actual writing yet. There have been plenty of instances of writer’s block, and entire multi-hour sessions just spent tweaking the story outline. I’ve had some scenes flow smoothly, and others make me feel like I’m bleeding from my forehead. I’ve got a fairly comprehensive story outline, but I’m discovery writing an entire subplot, with only a vague idea how it’s going to resolve. Plus, I have to set up an informational reveal at the climax of the subplot that I need to proceed to the climax of the main story, and I really don’t have any idea how that’s going to happen. But slowly, steadily, despite the hardships, the first draft is materializing on the page.
And it will continue to do so, because MyNoWriMo demands 2,000 words a day. Good times.