I know! I didn’t actually do NaNoWriMo this year. The thing is, I pretty much did and my mind is so used to thinking that I did. I ended up jump-starting some productivity that I think may get me through the year. Here’s what happened
Northanger Park is going to be book four and released in 2020. The first draft is done at about 52,000 words. There are some rambling and things that need to be added in, but it’s ready for my first editing whenever I’m ready to do it. It was fun to write and I’m glad I wasn’t focused on meeting a word count through the month. I could have pushed myself to finish before the end of the month, but I ended up letting it go and enjoying other things going on. I finished about four days into December. Even as I wrote I started taking notes for short story ideas. I found ways to connect it not just to the other 21st Century Austen books, but to another big series I have planned. It was a nice feeling to finish a book so quickly.
It felt weird to not be worrying about the word count. I still tracked it, but I never had a day where I got ahead of where I was expected to be. That’s very often what I do. It goes back to the second year I participated when I went to Miami through Thanksgiving and found myself up at midnight on the 30th trying to get in the last 1000 words. That was the last time I didn’t win. It was 2005. Every year since I focus on getting a nice buffer between me and Thanksgiving so that, if I took the whole weekend off, I didn’t derail my efforts. That’s one of the many ways I wrote to word count. It didn’t matter what I wrote, as long as I had a specific word count.
I talked about, during the month, how I gave myself permission to not write. It ended up being a stressful month because life happened. My entire family was in town and I focused on spending time with them. I only see my sister about once a year and I didn’t want to be in a panic about writing. I gave myself permission to say no to things I didn’t want to do so I could avoid burning out. That didn’t work so much, I’m still exhausted, but it’s not from trying to work the writing into everything else. During the last week of the month, when everyone was scrambling to finish, I didn’t fight my lack of interest in writing. I knew where my story needed to go and how to get there, but I didn’t want to write. I wanted to read the new Game of Thrones book (well, listen to the audiobook). I wanted to watch The Office for the 20th time. I wanted to nap on the couch. I did those things. At no point did I panic that I wasn’t focused. At one point I joked about trying to write 10,000 words in a few days. I’m sure I could have done it, but I didn’t want to.
As I look forward to what has been produced and what I’m looking to publish, I’m in a pretty good spot. I have two books with completed first drafts and another short story collection nearly done. I’m going to spend December working on the last of those short stories and moving one of the novels forward for publishing. I’m going to write short stories for the time being and then, when the inspiration strikes me, begin working on book five! I feel like I could easily take some time off from writing and focus on some other things… like Knitting and Seasonal Affective Disorder.