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2020 NaNoWriMo Challenge: The First Week

Updated: May 14

To say the first week of NaNoWriMo was life as usual peppered with a fair bit of writing would be a gross miscategorization. Anyone else enjoying National Novel Writing Month is part of the nation that was having its general election this week. It would be highly disingenuous to say it was not stressful, regardless of which side you fall on with any issue or electoral race. So, as we wrap up the week one of the month it is a good time to take stock of how things have gone so far.

The past week was one of enthusiasm and writing fervor as well as universal outside distractors, which incidentally, makes it a great case study for how the rest of the month will go. I’ll explain what has gone well so far, what the challenges have been for me, and the simple convenience of modern technology that has possibly been my salvation in this hectic first week. 

Day one of NaNoWriMo was a resounding success. I had scheduled myself 8 to 10 PM every night to make sure I got enough writing time. Anyone who read my previous blog post about having some time scheduled and basic notes already prepared also should have met with success on this first day. The ideas are coming easily and the words are just flowing. You’re just so ready to write at that point that stopping may actually be harder than starting. For me, day one was a prologue and also my largest day for words in the week, doing over 2500. It was a prologue premise that I had written before, but now, I decided to try it with some new characters as part of a new story and a lot more details, and I will say, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Day two was also a solid success, getting just under 2500 words and completing most of Chapter 1, which I was very excited to write. It was fun to write, and I think it will be fun to read. By the end of the week, I’ve managed to do at least 1,000 words a day, save one day, and only been under the bench mark three out of seven days. That begs the question what happened on those two days. 

The first of those days was, to no one’s surprise, election night. I found myself a little too distracted, and despite the fact that I did go and try to take my two hours to write, I just didn’t have the thread that night. Still, I made a good show of it, getting about 1300 words, which still left me ahead of schedule with the first two days being resounding successes.

The other day that I was a little behind was Friday night. Friday night is Dungeons and Dragons night. Since very early on in quarantine, I’ve been playing in an online game with a few friends. That game regularly falls in my newly established writing window. I was still able to get about an hour’s worth of writing in before the game started but that put me just under the daily quota of 1667. Saturday night we entertained my parents, and it was a generally very busy day, so I wrote not one word but went to bed before my writing window had even concluded.

The whole week in hindsight, I was just barely ahead of schedule, and if I were able to make the daily quota, I would finish a day or two ahead of time. However, that is another trap that I am familiar with—thinking you are ahead of schedule and that you can slack or just outright skip a day is a sure-fire way to miss the goal. I have zero intention of missing that goal, especially since I’m now publishing a blog about it. That would be embarrassing. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I do not find myself in the boat as I missed day seven entirely. I’ve got a bit of making up to do, but I’m not presently worried.

Let’s talk about what is potentially going to be my saving grace and has already helped me make my quotas on the days where I have known my writing window may be a little smaller than scheduled: the lovely modern convenience of dictation technology. Just about every device that you can write on has some form of built-in dictation application. Both my laptop and my phone have one, though of the two, my phone is far more effective. This is good because my phone comes with me everywhere: in my car, on walks, to the restroom. You get the idea.

There’s a lot of unstructured time or transitive time in the day when you’re not necessarily doing work or anything else, yet you can’t really sit down and type. If you are in a reasonably private space, then it’s a decent time to try and use dictation to jot down some notes or even get a number of paragraphs together to edit later. My initial draft of this blog post is being done almost purely through dictation. Of course, it will be edited on my end in front of a laptop before being sent to a real editor. But proofreading and editing the flaws of a word-to-text system is generally not too bad and has gotten better along with the technology over the years. To put it simply, it’s a great time saver, and it’s a useful tool for making sure the average words-per-day stays on par even when your writing time doesn’t. 

The first week of NaNoWriMo is in the books. Some days went great, others not so much, but I am in a good place going into week two, and more importantly, I’m very excited for my story to continue developing. I don’t have a great excerpt to toss in here, but there is hope for next week.

Thanks for reading! Check in next week!


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