Saturday, November 1, 2014

Another Year, Another NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo begins again. This time I am writing from Yangon, Myanmar. Though I have been thinking about NaNo since I completed it for the first time in 2013, I was surprised to check my phone this morning and see that it was already November 1st

I’ve only been in Myanmar for four days, one stop on a 6-month trip around SE Asia. Before I embarked on this journey, I had little idea of what my life would be like on the road. I’ve been writing nearly everyday, but not for my novel. It is challenging to step into a world I created when I am still absorbing and interpreting the very real world around me. Since starting my journey in Bali over one month ago, I think I’ve devoted a grand total of three hours to novel writing. This is a bit scary if I am expecting to devote 50 hours over the course of this next month.

This year will present new and different challenges to me as a writer. Compared with last November, I am in an entirely different place in my life.

Last year I was settling into my house in Shimane, Japan, and this year I am without a stable home, wandering from place to place across Asia. Today I am in Yangon, tomorrow Mandalay. This constant change of setting is likely to both inspire and impede the way I work.

Given that I am on the road, my schedule is far less predictable than last year. I know which cities I will be in, and how I am getting from place to place, but I have little understanding of the kinds of activities that will occupy my days in each place. Last year I was working a full-time job,. This November I am not employed, but that certainly doesn’t mean I can devote those 8 free hours a day to writing. One of the things I learned from NaNo last year is that my capacity for writing is a maximum of four-five hours per day. While not being tied down to a 40-hour work does free up my time, the lack of structure and routine actually makes it harder for me to focus on tasks. I have no idea how productive I can be with absolutely no structure.

I am also lacking a NaNo community this year. While I was living in Japan, I joined a community of other writers and took part in write-ins both locally and around the country. This year I doubt that I will be in one place long enough to cultivate the kind of community I had last year.
Lastly, my content for NaNo will be different. Though I am continuing to work on the original novel that was the subject of focus last year, I also want to begin developing a new piece. At this point, I have only a theme and an idea, but no solid story line. We shall see what emerges. 

Things I learned from last year:
  1. Make a Writing To Do List. Know what you will be working on before you start.
  2. Schedule time. In my case, I will only be able to plan my schedule that morning.
  3. Pace yourself. Divide up the work evenly throughout the month so that it is easier to manage.
  4.  Focus. Last year was easy because I was only working on one story, but this year will be harder.
  5. Just do it. Even if the creative juices aren’t flowing, sit down and get the job done.
  6. Enjoy! If it’s not fun then why are you doing it? This should hurt like a good workout.

My questions for this year:

  • Can I be productive and achieve my goals with no structure or routine in my life?
  • Can I write while moving (literally, on a train, bus, airplane, etc)?
  • Can I write without a designated “writing desk,” or any kind of physically comfortable space at all?
  • Can I write without a community of friends and peers who support me?
  • Can I be flexible and adjust my schedule to accommodate the unexpected?

NaNoWriMo 2014, here’s to ambiguity!

2014 Schedule

DayDateCommentsGoals Words
Sunday 30Thailand2000

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