I received many questions, Dear Adventurers, about my NaNoWriMo escapade this year so I thought I would answer them all (and more!) here.
Last year I decided to do NaNoWriMo a day before it started. I was excited and terrified. However, it went remarkably well. I reached 50k around the 20th, I think. It helped that I was on assignment and knew next to nobody in the area so my life consisted of writing and playing with my dog.
This year I knew very well what I was getting into. I was excited for it. I knew it would be a little tougher; I lived in area with plenty of friends, my sister and my boyfriend around me - but I still thought it would be a piece of cake.
The first week went great. I had just been laid off, but was optimistic about find another job. I picked up a lot of shifts at my other on-call job. My demanding boyfriend didn't make things easy, but I still managed to stay on target with my pace.
The second week, I still made progress but it began to fall behind pace. It was nothing I couldn't easily come back from. I broke up with my boyfriend (nothing to do with NaNoWriMo, but needed to be done). I worked seven days in a row at my job and realized it was barely enough to cover expenses. The gravity of my financial situation began to weigh heavily.
The third week, I let my word count fall drastically. I maybe wrote one or two nights. I spent all my time and energy applying for jobs and pursuing another opportunity that I am not yet ready to publicize. Again, I worked seven nights in a row and barely had time for anything else
The fourth week, I didn't really work that much, but still applied for jobs. I could have easily caught up, but I just didn't want to. I was bummed about not being able to find a job and other things. I didn't get any shifts at work that week so I was worried about the money situation again.
On the 27th (in the afternoon) I finally decided that I was going to make an effort at finishing. I was at my parents' for the holidays and woke up earlier than the rest of them to start writing. I was at 30k when I decided this. I didn't think there was any way I would actually make it to 50k, but I wanted to try.
On the 29th the effort really started. I typed away on my eee until my battery died while Kayelee drove us back to Orlando. Once I got home, I buckled down and swore off everything but Twitter until I finished. I began to tweet my progress (See tweet stream regarding NaNoWriMo below. If you want to read chronologically, read from the bottom up.) I was at 36.5k at that point. Around 4am and 43k, (I was trying to switch back to my third-shift-friendly sleep schedule) I could no longer keep my eyes open.
Around 1pm on the 30th I woke up with my mind on my mission. I was on track to definitely finish before midnight and hopefully finish before 10pm, when Castle was to come on. I stopped to eat around 6pm and my boss at Gaylord called, asking me to come in as soon as possible and work until 11. I was at 46,310 Like I said, I hadn't had any work the week before and only had one shift scheduled this week. I really wanted to finish, but I knew I needed the money more. I told him I would come in, stalked into the living room and yelled "Foiled!" at my sister. I packed a notebook (Optimus Prime) just in case I got a post where I could write. I lucked out and got a post watching equipment. The furious scribbling began. I counted the words on the first three pages and then used the average of that to estimate the rest of my writing.
At 48k my story was over. Normally, I start a story with a situation and one or two characters in mind and that's how I started this one. It is a YA, so it should be shorter, but not that short. (Don't worry, when I go back to edit I will definitely be adding more in the way of description and characterization) So I broke one of my self-imposed rules: Don't write crap. I wrote an interview between the MC and a reporter (who was in the story) that I was positive had no place in the story. I wrote descriptions of my MC's house and room. I created conversations that didn't add to the story or characters. I realize now that it was actually beneficial. I learned a little bit more about my characters through these exercises, even if a reader will never see them. Sometimes, there are things a writer needs to write to understand their story but a reader doesn't need to read. This 'crap' included some of these things.
At around 10:40pm I reached (roughly) 50k. My hand was aching from all the hand writing but I was so relieved. Check out this graph of my progress:
I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who supported me and sent encouraging messages, especially during the last two days. Encouragement from good friends, family, friends I hadn't heard from in a while and Twitter buddies who I've never met in person really got me through the hours when I was sure I would never make it to that 50k mark.
Now, for some of the questions
Q: Why was it so important for me to finish?
A: If you know me very well, you shouldn't need to ask this question. I wanted to finish because I said I would. When I commit to something, I stick it through, no matter how painful.
Q: How did you validate if you wrote the last 4k with pen and paper?
A: Some people do the entire NaNoWriMo by hand. In those cases, the people who put the program on suggest that you count up your words and use something like a word generator to create a text file equal in size to your hand-written novel. So, I just did that for the part I wrote at work. I'll probably type it up later, but for now we'll go with that.
Q: What did you write?
A: It was my first attempt at a YA novel, though it is Urban Fantasy (which is what I normally write). More information can be found by clicking on the 'Novel Info' tab on my NaNoWriMo page
Q: What do you get for winning?
A: Nothing. Well, nothing that people who aren't writers would understand. You get a sense of accomplishment. FYI: Winning means getting to 50k, it's not a contest. I tried explaining this to one of my coworkers today and he gave me a look. I said, "What? Writers are all crazy, everybody knows that."
Done! I did it! #nanowrimo have to validate once i get home. i need a hand massage
350 left. #nanowrimo
1k left. I am going to do it! At work til 11. Hopefully my writing hand holds out on me #nanowrimo
1.5k to go. omg, so close. hand is cramping #nanowrimo
3k left! writing by hand is hard tho
can someone go to my nanowrimo page and tell me how many words i have? writing in notebook at work!
Weird. Sitting at work watching equipment (and writing furiously in my optimus prime notebook) when i hear bella's lullaby. (piano in lobby)
OH MY GOSH! Now I get called into work? I have to go because I desperately need the money, but this all but smashes my #nanowrimo hopes
Let's play a game called "How many words can I write in the 9 minutes while my dinner is baking?" #nanowrimo
46k and it is time to eat food. #nanowrimo my brain won't work for long if it doesn't get nourishment!
Broke 45k! Maybe I can do this? Thanks for all the support, sorry for clogging your status streams. #nanowrimo
6k left to go. 8.5 hours left. it's so close, can't stop now #nanowrimo
OK, 7k and >10 hours to go. This is getting tough
At 43k and my eyes won't stay open. will go to sleep and start again tomorrow. my goal: to finish before Castle, and watch it as a reward
I am so tired. At 45K, I will let myself sleep, though I don't know for how long. #nanowrimo
8k and 21 hours remaining. #nanowrimo I hope my story doesn't end before the words do.
break/dinner time is over. time to write 10k and win this thing. How did I let myself get so behind? #nanowrimo
yay! passed 40k! What should I eat? #nanowrimo 23 hours and 10k remaining.
when i reach 40k, i can eat. turning the tv off in 10. not my fault, @nanny_k turned it on. #nanowrimo
25.5 hours and 12k to go. #nanowrimo chugalug
27 hours and 13k to go. #nanowrimo i may be tweeting every thousand words... sorry if it's annoying...
<28 hours left and 13.5k words to go. can it be done? maybe. will i end up with keyboard face? probably. staying up all night? definitely
Contest #100 looms
2 hours ago