National Novel Writing Month - Week 2

By: Erin Aulfinger

November 7, 2015 (9,125 words written)

Writing can be erratic. One day you might have tons of ideas, and get 1,500 words down. Others, you’re too busy and creatively drained to even think about writing more than two or three words. I often find that how much I write depends on the day. 

If I know I’ve got early morning classes one day, I know I’m not going to write as much. Similarly, if my first class doesn’t start until noon, I’ve got an extra three hours to use for my novel. My weekends are typically open, but I do need to keep in mind that I should at least attempt to have a social life. 

This is where a website like Pacemaker Press comes in handy. The site has more application than novels; it can be used for essays, dissertations, speeches, and even diary writing. Seen here is a brief example of its functionality for this very journal. According to this graph, I should write one section a day. If I were to change it to, say, a goal of 2,000 words, which was the amount I wrote for last week’s journal and labeled it as “oscillating” words written per day, it would appear like this:

There’s another section of options that’s used to make your graph even more personalized (although you don’t have to use a graph—there’s also table and calendar options). With these tools you can set the intensity (how rigorous the writing sessions may be) or skip certain days because you know you can’t write on that day. The graph can also be set to change, depending on what you’ve actually done, or kept the same to check your progress. There’s even an option to “reserve free days” to give you editing days. In fact, you can even pick several days during the month that will allow you to write more or less if you can’t make it to the keyboard that day.   

Pacemaker Press is a great find, and can be integrated with iCalendar and Twitter, something which I believe can help hold me responsible for any missed dates. There’s also something about seeing my little green line of actual word count creeping above the blue estimates that keeps me going. The settings on my dashboard are pretty specific. I’ve made sure to add more workload to weekends, keep my Tuesday word count light, and make my birthday weekend less intensive. I’ve also asked for a “Hard Core” intensity level because I’m writing about a topic I love. 

November 8, 2015 (10,085 words written)

Writing is often considered a lonely profession, but thanks to NaNoWriMo, it’s actually a very communal experience and reminds me that authors benefit from sharing their work with others.   I’ve already talked about local communities-they’re great because you have the option to meet in person and talk about region-specific topics, or may even know them already. However, wider communities can also be great.   It’s hard to tell who’s a “Wrimo” when everyone’s tapping away on their keyboards. However, you can always take to the internet to discover the wider community of authors by making some posts on social media about your progress and connect with tons of people from around the world to help cheer you on and keep you accountable!   

The official NaNoWriMo website also encourages “writing buddies,” which is similar to having friends (or enemies) that you compete with and track their progress against your own. Writing buddies can also tell you how far along anyone else is. The website tracks which region and genre is ahead in word count. As of now, Germany is the top region with 30,641,541 words. Meanwhile, the Fantasy genre currently tops the leaderboard at 292,196,323 words. Getting a quick overview of how well a general population is doing can help you gauge how well you’re doing.   Most important, however, is that your write at a pace which is comfortable for you, and of course, fun. If writing becomes stressful, take a short break.  

November 9, 2015 | 11,416 words written

November 10, 2015 | 11,824 words written

November 11, 2015 | 13,332 words written

November 12, 2015 | 14,443 words written

November 13, 2015 | 15,217 words written

Occasionally, time gets away from you. This past week I’ve frequently found myself sitting in front of my computer with only two additional words since the day before. I’ll have nothing written for this journal, and zero inspiration.   

Sometimes it’s hard to feel like writing when you feel empty. Today was one of those days for me. Instead of pushing myself to add more to my story, I messaged a friend on Facebook, who just so happened to be playing “Pretend You’re Xyzzy,” an online Cards Against Humanity game. As a CAH enthusiast, I agreed, and spent the next couple hours playing this and video chatting with two of the other users.   It helped a lot to take my mind off of my novel and just have some fun. After the last round, I found myself even more creative than usual, and broke the 15,000 mark!

Erin Aulfinger is a Freshman studying Creative Writing at Christian Brothers University and a staff writer at the Galleon.
Posted by Josh Colfer at 9:12 AM

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