Drafting Outside of NaNoWriMo

I am a writer born and raised on NaNoWriMo.

When I decided on a whim to write a novel back in 2012, I did a little Googling and discovered NaNoWriMo started in two days. So, with no previous writing experience, I dove into NaNo and wrote 51K in 30 days.

I spent the next ten months revising that novel. I learned a lot about how to craft a good story in revisions, but I didn't write anything new during that time (minus a failed attempted at Camp NaNo...I went back to revisions about a week into July).

My second novel (the one I'm currently querying) I wrote during the 2013 NaNo session: 93K in 30 days. After a whirlwind of drafting, I spent the next seven months revising. (I'm a fast drafter but a slow thorough reviser.)

I love NaNoWriMo, but having learned to write under those conditions, drafting outside the confines of NaNo--as I'm doing now with my new WIP--feels weird.

Each morning, I wake up three hours before work so I can write before I leave for my Day Job. In the 90 minutes or so that I spend actively writing (the other 90 minutes get eaten up by getting ready for work and trying to wake up enough to think coherently), I manage to write around about one thousand words.

1,000 words.

Writing 1K per day is a perfectly reasonable, steady speed. But having learned to draft during NaNo, it feels excruciatingly slow. And beyond that, despite having the best CPs and writer friends ever, writing outside of NaNo feels very...lonely? Writing is a solitary experience by its very nature, but during November, there are so many writers all over the globe drafting together. It makes me feel a part of something bigger than me. It makes me feel a little less like I'm shouting into the void.

It feels weird to write outside of NaNo.

All that said, there are some advantages to drafting outside of the confines of NaNo in November. Because I'm taking this draft slowly, I can pause when I have issues and work them out rather than plowing ahead and creating a mess. There's also enough time to read for fun whilst I'm drafting (which I absolutely cannot do during NaNo). And I can...umm...write...slower?

I guess the best part of drafting outside of NaNo is knowing that I can draft outside of NaNo. Though it's been going slower than I'm used to, the draft is still coming together. And I'm on track to be done in time for NaNo 2014!

If you're also a child of NaNo finding yourself drafting outside of November, here are a few tips to help you get to THE END.

1- Pick a deadline. I plan to be done by Oct 31st, though I'll likely be done before then.

2- Set a daily word goal (one that's easily achievable). If you have Scrivener--which I adore!--it can auto calculate your daily goals based on your progress and deadline (like the photo above).

3- Find writer buddies who can cheer you on. Whether your writer friends are also drafting or are in other stages of writing, having folks who will check in if you're not updating your daily word counts can be a big help on the motivation front.

Hopefully, by the time I reach THE END on this project, I'll have more pros for writing outside of NaNo. And more tips. But until then, you tell me: how do you keep yourself motivated when writing alone? Did anyone else start writing with NaNo and then branch out to write during other times of the year?

Until next time!

-Isabel