I had two stated goals
for this NaNoWriMo when I started: (1) Teach myself to do this level of output while still working the day job, carrying on with house projects in progress, etc. -- in short, without putting the entire rest of life on hold. (2) Remind myself that writing can be fun.
How'd I do? Okay.
Doing NaNo around working for a living, especially the day job, was as annoying as I expected it to be.
Interestingly, statistically, work days weren't significantly worse for word-count than non-work days. They were more frustrating, because either I was inspired and had to go help people find hardware instead of writing, or I was tired from work and had to slog out words anyway, but apparently I generally managed either way. My very best days weren't work days, but some work days were quite good (even some over 2K), and while some really low days were work days, others weren't.
I had this note for a journal post hand-written in the pocket notebook. I think
it's referring to the 28th, based on details in it and the hand-written novel text it was next to, but I can't be sure enough to back-date it as its own post:
Yesterday was a work day. The writing session before work was good, and the one immediately after was pretty good, but the truth is I come home from the day job with a proto-headache more often than not, and writing through a headache is just not a recipe for my best productivity. By the time I got to the third session of the day, I was tired and cranky about being awake and just not feeling it.
If I've got the day right, the statistics do not entirely bear this out: Writing speed per session was 597 wph, 434 wph, and 367 wph respectively. So clearly return on investment was decreasing; on the other hand, even 367 wph is pretty good by my standards. On the third hand, time-on-task was getting longer as words-done was getting smaller, which is never a good sign.
As for fun, the early days were a slog starting at about day 2, but there were some high points. And toward the end, when I finally
seemed to get my mojo going, I was quite enjoying myself. I had a lot of fun writing the banter with Schlee, and Kearsley being brilliant at the Customs desk was an absolute delight. So despite spending half the month behind and quite a lot of it bulling through by sheer force of refusing to fail, I did meet this goal in the end. And I'm quite looking forward to writing the rest.
Other things I learned, and miscellaneous bits worthy of note:
Mostly I've learned: Do not go into something like this already exhausted and burned out. Which, duh, and I already knew that, but I didn't appreciate just how bad an idea it was going to be.
Next time, get shinier stars. These are the ones I decided weren't flashy enough last time, and indeed, they aren't proving to be the incentive that the more indulgent, holographic ones I ended up using last time were.
Something to remember for next time: For me, NaNo is primarily an exercise in second wind. I can sit down and write 350-500 words in a session, and that's fine. And I can stop when I'm tired, and under normal circumstances that's okay. But I should never lose sight of the fact that I can
, if I push through that tired, usually get another good batch of words done. I don't have to do it that way all the time, but perhaps I should do it once in a while, just to remind myself that I can.
Accomplishing something made for a much more effective break than playing computer games or screwing around on the internet. Doubly so if the accomplishing involved physical activity (such as shoveling snow). But the accomplishing seemed to be the biggest key, rather than the activity.
Just for laughs, I did try one "Cauldron of Doom" word sprint at the last write-in I went to (after I'd hit 50,000). I went into it fully expecting not to hit the number, and I didn't, though I did come closer than I thought I would (target was 425, I did 368). However, I could tell even as I was doing it that the quality wasn't there. One paragraph in particular is repetitive, drivelling... well, drivel. I might be able to get away with it in that particular instance as a bit of word play, but that's for a paragraph. A whole book of that would be unsupportable; never mind editing, I'd have to burn it and start over.
Catching up involved a lot of hard work and stubborn refusal to fail. It also involved the day job finally
getting my hours back down to where they should be. I don't know how I would have done it without that extra day.
Blasting selected music really loudly
on the good headphones got me going a number of times when nothing else would. Mind you, there were also times I needed silence to work at all.
For days when I wrote at least quota (1667+), average time-on-task was 4.23 hours.
For days when I wrote at least goal (2000+), average time-on-task was 4.46 hours.
For the days when I didn't make quota, the average was 2.39 hours, but it doesn't correlate beyond that; for example, on the 15th I wrote 273 words in 2.75 hours, but the next day I wrote nearly four times as much (1003 words) in almost the same amount of time (3 hours).
The 15th was the worst day I wrote at all; the second-worst day, it took me 2.5 hours to produce 309 words, which is a sure sign it's time to give it up as a bad job if anything is. Some days, it just ain't happening, and more time doesn't change that.
Words-per-hour doesn't really tell me anything useful; many of the really stellar speeds are for very short bursts (20 minutes or so). Oddly enough, so is the worst wph. The other really dismal speeds correlate to very low-output days, which just reinforces that sitting there staring at the screen when words ain't happening is not only unproductive, but a waste of time that could be spent recharging.
I'll do more Nanalysis if I think of anything. Oh, and one more thing I learned; much of the above is notes I took during the month. I've expanded on several of them, but getting the gist down as I realize things makes for a much better process overview.