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Reflection Writing

National Novel Writing Month 2022 recap

I didn’t quite make it to the midpoint of my book this month — three more scenes left! — nor did I hit 50k as I originally planned. I could have pushed through the holiday weekend and squeezed in another 5k, but since I plan to keep this pace up for the next month, I decided not to risk burning myself out — just as I decided not to push through without an outline last week. Nevertheless, I am extremely happy with how November’s writing went; I wrote 44k (mostly useful) words of my book, staying on target word count, without burning myself out.

Stats

Words written

In total, I wrote 57,348 total words on this novel project during November, starting with zero words of prose and not as much planning as I would have liked:

  • 44,078 words of prose
  • 13,273 words of outline

That comes out to an average of 1911 total words written a day, or 1469 words of prose daily. My highest two production days were about 4000 and 6000 words.

Day by day stats for NaNoWriMo

Total words written by day (prose and outline)
I started off with a bang, writing 17000 words the first week, tapered off to 12k in week two, dipped to 10k in week three, and pulled it back up to 12k in week four. Week five only had two days but garnered 6k.

Time spent

I put in the time: 80 hours of focused work on writing prose, planning, and outlining during November. RescueTime clocked me at 69 hours of active time in Scrivener; my notes put me at about 55 hours of prose writing time. (In 2017, I logged 61 hours in Scrivener writing half of Book 1. Other years: 51 hours in 2018 when I wrote the second half of the book, 49 hours in 2020, and 40 hours in 2021.)

Total words written compared with hours spent; some days return an outsize production of words relative to time (blue bar is higher than orange line), others take much more relative time to produce words (orange line is much higher than blue bar).
Words per hour varies by day and is typically around 1000 words an hour, with a peak of 3000 words per hour on one outlier day — which makes me wonder if I forgot to record some time that day πŸ˜‰

Novel status

The most important thing is that I made forward progress on the novel itself. I am nearing halfway, and have stuck to my outline with minor adjustments for word count.

Mid-month, I realized that I needed to pay closer attention to my timeline, so I used a trial of Aeon Timeline to plug in the first two books and think about how they overlapped, as well as clarify the travel time between planets. This work will be helpful for both books.

I started writing prose with the two POV characters’ misbelief origin scenes, which won’t be included as complete scenes (or maybe at all) in the book. Subtracting those 10,950 words, the novel’s word count stands at 33,128 words. If I hit my word count target for the next three scenes, the midpoint will land at around 39k — PERFECT. I would be ecstatic for this draft to land at 80k, which I could easily edit down to 70k.

(Unlike the first book which I’ve been editing down / rewriting from 125k+ words for four years πŸ™ƒ NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN)

Writing process

How I wrote

When

I wrote in several blocks during the day, namely:

  • 3-hour Caves from 10:30-1:30pm
  • 1-hour Caves at various times between 1pm and 8pm
  • Pomodoros after dinner
  • Hanging out with a friend on Discord in the evening

Most weekdays I would join the 10:30-1:30pm 3-hour Cave work block, take a break for the afternoon, and come back in either late afternoon or evening for another hour or two.

Tools

For my pomodoros, I used a Time Timer. In the past I’ve used an online timer and an hourglass, but this has worked better for me. I like turning the dial to start the writing session.

I also cued myself it was time to write by putting on my headphones. I created two playlists for my POV characters, and did my best to listen to the appropriate playlist when I wrote — although I liked the mPOV playlist way better so sometimes I just listened to that πŸ˜‰ I also sometimes listened to some of my general 2022 mixes, and as appropriate my special 😎sex scene playlistπŸ˜ŽπŸ˜‚

Analysis

Pulling from only twenty-eight days (two zero days) of data isn’t sufficient to draw any real conclusions, but it’s fun to play around with.

Though Mondays and Fridays were reported as my most productive days, Monday was skewed by one very productive day, same with Friday. It makes sense that Sunday and Thursday had the lowest daily averages, as Thursdays have a slightly different schedule and Sundays I often feel like resting.

Plan for December writing

Based on a handful of data points, these times may be productive. During December I should try writing at these times again to collect some more data points:

  • 2-3 and 3-4pm Cave
  • 8-10pm pomodoros
  • Writing 4-5 hours in a row instead of just 3

Impact

NaNo is always a little bit brutal on the brain — and body — since it’s a ramp up from mellower levels of effort. I feel a little tireder than usual, and have been reading less fiction and fewer articles on my phone. I don’t necessarily feel more stressed, but my anxiety’s a bit easier to trigger, I’ve gotten a number of headaches, and my resting heart rate is up three beats a minute from October πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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