Sunday, November 15, 2015

2015 NaNoWriMo: Progress Report

At least I can have the Caramel Brulee latte in America

 I am now halfway into the month of November and it is time for a live progress report of my unconventional NaNo pledge to spend 50 hours editing my novel. 

I have to admit things are not going fabulously. As I have done in previous years I calendared my 50 hours well in advance, but I have not been sticking to the schedule at all. In fact, I have fallen so far behind on my schedule that I will need to spend several days doing 4 hours of editing in order to catch up. I'm not sure if this is possible because 3 hours tends to be my daily limit. It doesn't help that I got off to a slow start (really, a no-start) at the beginning of the month. The first four days I spent in kind of a mental fog, not wanting to do anything. I almost gave up before trying, convincing myself that it would be ok if I pushed back my NaNo challenge to be something like November 5th-December 5th. Then I realized that was stupid procrastination and I furiously began editing on November 4th. Things started off great. I was steadily doing 2-3 hours a day and I thought I would surly be able to keep up the momentum. 
Then I on the 8th I found myself doing a lot of rewriting for one chapter, and the next day I hit a plot crisis that paralyzed me for three days. I recovered, but lost precious hours and had to do major restructuring and rewriting.

Below is my schedule with projected hours and real hours:

Date Comments Goal Hours Actual Hours Time Words
1   2 0    
2   1 0    
3   2 0    
4   1 2 5:00-7:00 7275
5   0 2 5:45-6:30, 7:20, ~8:35~9:10 7126
6   2 0    
7   3 2 1:30-2:30, 8:00-9:00 10822
8 lots of writing 2 3 5:45-7:45, 9:00-10:00 4714
9 plot crisis 1 2 6:15-7:15~8:30 5764
10   2 0    
11   2 0    
12   0 0    
13 major restructuring 2 1 5:30-6:30 515
14   3 1 7:40-8:40 4487
15 lots of writing 2 2 6:00-7:00, 7:20-8:20 7162
16   1      
17   2      
18   2      
19   0      
20   2      
21   3      
22   2      
23   1      
24   2      
25   2      
26   0      
27   2      
28   3      
29   2      
30   1      


50 15   47865

The obstacles:

1. My computer-dependent job
Two years ago when I participated in NaNo in Japan, I was also working a 40-hour a week job. Since I was successful I thought, "This is no big deal, I can write/edit with a full-time job." But my job back then was as a teacher. I was on my feet and lecturing most of the day, so I looked forward to going home and sitting in front of my laptop for uninterrupted hours. My job this year is tech-heavy. I am in front of my computer every minute at work. After 8 hours of staring at my laptop screen the last thing I want to do when I come home is stare at that screen some more. 

2. My health
Lately I have felt enormously exhausted and lacked the energy and focus to do anything outside of work. I'm not sure if the cause is the dreary weather, or my bad diet, or some kind of phase, but the fact is that at times I'm physically unable to complete this project.

3. My environment
My initial excitement at editing my novel in November was that I would be able to fully enjoy all the wonderful holiday drinks at Starbucks. I made a plan to write at every Starbucks in the city and sample all holiday drinks by the end of the month. Unfortunately, having spent the last two years outside the U.S. during winter, I had forgotten about the annoying Christmas music and shitty holiday crowds at Starbucks. I often couldn't find a free seat to work from, and when I did, Mariah Carey's Christmas album usually got me moving out the door in fifteen minutes or less.

4. My skill as an editor
Not surprisingly, it is a lot harder to be an editor than a writer. Just because you can make a huge mess doesn't mean you are any good at cleaning it up. Some people are professional mess-makers. Some people are professional cleaners. It's not often that one person is both. 
I knew I wouldn't be a great editor, but at this stage I am the only one who has enough  context to edit my own story. Only I know what is missing and what can be cut out. Still, it is challenging in an entirely different way than writing is.

5. My novel
When I started this process I had thought my novel was mostly complete and needed only minor reworking. That was a lovely fantasy. But I am now more enlightened and unafraid to admit that my novel needs a full re-visioning. It's frightening that I've gotten this far and still have so much more to do. Oh well. It's a learning process. I'll keep telling myself that. 

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