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NaNoWriMo 2015: Shaking Through

It’s now the halfway point of National Novel Writing Month. Actually, that day was yesterday, except I’m writing this yesterday and posting it today. Because I have mastered time travel. Or something. The point is, NaNoWriMo is half over and I’d like to talk about how it’s going.

So this is how it’s going:

I’m currently about 10,000 words behind where I should be right now. And I haven’t caught up to my past word count high point. But I’m terribly excited about what I’m writing and how I’m writing it. I’ve summed up this project as “surrealist superheroes.” I’ve expanded on that somewhat by calling it “postmodernist surrealist Art Deco mythpunk superheroes.” It’s kind of grown out of that box, if it ever fit in the box in the first place. I’m not writing a linear story. I’m not even really writing a novel at this point. I’m writing flashfic, vignettes, and prose-poems, along with some stream-of-consciousness and some cut-ups, that all share a setting and a cast of characters. (And both the setting and the cast have grown in the writing, like they usually do.)

I’m not stressing about repeating words. I’m not stressing about bad descriptions and lousy dialogue. I’m not stressing about inconsistent characterization or plot holes. I’m just getting all this stuff that’s in my head out onto the page. It feels like it could eventually, with revisions and the help of an editor, become something sort of like a novel, but that’s also not something I’m stressing about right now.

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This is what anxiety looks like.

I’m not writing every day, but I’m writing most days. Some days, I’m lucky to get 750 words or so. Other days, I write 2,000-plus words. Going to local write-ins has helped. Being around other writers, taking breaks to chat about anything and everything, this helps me write more.

Now, here’s a thing: on Sunday morning (the day I’m writing this and the day before I’m posting this) I went to my usual haunt to do as much writing as I could get away with. I opened up my Google Drive, looked at the documents I have in my “NaNoWriMo 2015” folder, realized it was the halfway point of the month and I was 10,000 words behind, and I panicked. Literally. I got anxious about the project and couldn’t get any words to come. That triggered a panic attack, which made it difficult to type anything longer than a tweet (because it’s hard to type a lot when your hands are shaking). I was sitting in a crowded, loud coffee shop, trying desperately to get my heart to slow down, holding back tears and an urge to shout at everyone around me. After taking some Xanax and going outside for some fresh air and quiet, I managed to calm down and get back to writing fiction. It was a whole lot of not-fun. The combination of not being able to put words together and the loss of control of your body and its reactions? Yeah, that’s about as enjoyable as a surprise birthday party thrown by complete strangers dressed in creepy clown costumes, and the door is locked and you can’t get away from the party. Also, they brought a cake instead of pie, and it’s not even good cake, it’s that bland white cake with that gross white frosting that just tastes like creamy, fluffy sugar. (If you’re reading this and you like that kind of cake, what the hell is wrong with you? It’s like eating…something really bland with a lot of bland sweetness smeared all over it. Blech! You need to get out more.)

But I’m getting back on track. It will take a lot of pushing myself to make 50,000 words by the end of the month. According to my current stats, I’ll hit 50,000 just before my birthday in December. Whatever. Whether I win this month or not, I’m learning a hell of a lot about what writing process works best for me, what parts of writing come easier to me and what parts I struggle with, and how I can best just let loose and enjoy what I’m writing without losing interest in it after a couple of weeks. In the long run, that’s the bigger win.

2 Comments

  1. Hannah Jane wrote:

    You are missed at Local Writers!

    As a person obsessed with word economy, Nanowrimo sounds pretty scary to me. I can’t imagine how daunting it would be to write so many words in such a short time. So hats off to you. And hats off to you for sticking it out even though the enormity of the task was weighing on you.

    And I know the kind of cake and creepy clown strangers you talk off. That’s some awful stuff.

    Friday, November 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink
  2. josh wrote:

    Thanks, Hannah Jane!

    My problem is more of an abundance of words, especially when I have images stuck in my head and when I get going on dialogue.

    Friday, November 20, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

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