Some writers fly by the seat of their pants, never putting more than a few moments of thought into what they’ll write until the very start of National Novel Writing Month. Some plan things out down to the tiniest detail during what’s become known as “Preptober”—which is either part or all of October depending on your school of thought.
Me? I’ve known what I was going to write for months. Under the pen name Emma Fontaine, I’m penning a short story and a sequel novella taking place in the world of Once Upon Academy. Those are my main projects, though they won’t add up to 50,000 words combined. There are several other projects vying for my attention next. I’ll keep you posted on which one wins.
For now, this was my Week One…
Sunday, November 1
I’d stayed up until midnight to write the first 127 words of my first story, “Winter & Worry,” before going to bed. For whatever reason, I’ve discovered that I like to write in the mornings before work, but at this point in the game, I wasn’t adjusting to sprinting very quickly. My word counts for my morning sprints were lower than I would’ve liked.
Nevertheless, I was determined to hit 1,667 words—the average daily word count needed to write 50,000 words in a month. Though I did my very best—writing on my lunch break, dictating on the walk to and from my car—when I sat down at night to hammer out the rest, I just couldn’t manage it. It had been a long, hard day at the day job, and I didn’t have it in me. I got as far as I could before I went to bed.
Not my best start to a NaNoWriMo I’ve ever had, but I’ll take it.
Words Added: 1,603
Monday, November 2
Luckily, Sunday was my Friday, so I spent the first day of my weekend at Disney Springs on my own little writing retreat. I’ve found it’s fairly easy to practice social distancing there, I can mobile order where possible, and it gets me out of the house and away from the distracting urge to snuggle with my boyfriend all day.
I almost always stick to West Side, and I did this time, too. After picking up lunch at Chicken Guy, I wrote on a bench away from the crowds for several hours. The combination of the sun, people-watching, and the knowledge that there won’t be anywhere to recharge my devices if I waste the batteries doing non-writing-related activities kicked me into high gear.
As a reward for getting so much work done, I grabbed boba from one of the kiosks and a chocolate chip cookie from Starbucks (thank you, Starbucks Rewards) and I wrote on Starbucks’s patio until dark, when my phone battery finally died on me.
This was the highest word count of the week, and I don’t think that’s an accident. A key to my success in NaNoWriMo this year just might be my one-day writing retreats.
Words Added: 2,762
Tuesday, November 3
I started off the day hosting my first NaNoWriMo 2020 virtual write-in for Writer’s Atelier! If you want to catch the replay, you can watch me on Writer’s Atelier’s Facebook page. I had a lot of fun and got a very solid number of words in. I think the virtual write-ins will be just as important to my success as the mini-retreats.
The latter half of my day was spent at an in-person, physically-distanced write-in with fellow historical fiction author Jessica Baker. I say “write-in,” but it seemed she was the only one who was doing any writing! I focused on admin work and other, lighter fare. I think after sprinting for two hours, my writing brain sort of tapped out.
Words Added: 1,912
Wednesday, November 4
My birthday got off to a rocky start because I had to renew my tag and driver’s license, but brunch with my boyfriend always makes everything better! Especially when that brunch includes chocolate chip pancakes and silly Instagram Stories.
Between the brunch and our very nice dinner with my parents that evening, I headed over to Downey Park for a couple hours to sneak a little writing in while Logan found me a birthday present.
(He is either very last minute, or he’s planned something out months in advance. There is no in between. I already know what my Christmas present will be though, and I’m so excited for it!)
Did I hit my word count goal? No, but all in all, I think I still had a pretty terrific start to my twenty-fifth trip around the Sun.
Words Added: 592
Thursday, November 5
After three straight days of getting to decide my own schedule, I returned to the day job having completely forgotten just how hard I would need to work to hit my word count goals. I wrote a little in the morning, wrote on my lunch break, but I could not bring myself to write more than a few hundred words when I got home.
This was the first day I realized how much of an effect Daylight Savings Time would and will have on me. When the sky is dark, my brain and body demand I sleep. This is definitely something I will have to watch out for in the future.
Words Added: 1,240
Friday, November 6
My second virtual write-in began with a few hiccoughs—namely, I spent the first fifteen minutes with such titillating technical difficulties as signing into the wrong room and Zoom’s refusal to stream to Facebook. Fun!
Nevertheless, I persisted, and then I also wrote on my lunch break.
See, people? Amazing things can happen when you stay focused and technology cooperates.
Words Added: 1,889
Saturday, November 7
Saturdays are when I meet with my critique group – my amazing, encouraging, star-bright brilliant critique group. I love those ladies, I love the words they write, and I love the words they’ll help me to write. It’s a wonderful partnership.
Naturally, I had a little too much fun. When a concept like the ones we talked about really interests me, I get sucked so deep, and that’s exactly what happened. Even when I was on my lunch break and knew I should be working on my NaNoWriMo project, I couldn’t help but dive deeper into the shinier thing.
So, while I did get lots of work and brainstorming and editing done, this was my first zero-word day. Hopefully, it’ll also be the last!
Words Added: 0
Week One Reflection
So many lessons learned in the first week! I feel like I’ve learned so much about my own habits and tendencies because I’ve bothered to pay attention this year.
Still, identifying my problem areas—or having them pointed out again—is only half the battle. Now I have to find the discipline to actually do something about them.
I think one thing I’ll be trying is waking all the way up earlier to write. Currently, my alarm goes off before seven, but I almost never make it out of bed until eight. That’s an hour I’ve wasted on social media when I could be writing! If it was reading or even doing something entertaining, I wouldn’t mind, but social media?
I can do better than that. I can do better than this. Just watch me!