Preparing for NaNo

Preparing for NaNo

This one is special to my friends participating in the November writing challenge referred to as NaNoWriMo. I was persuaded to participate this year and so far – four days in – I’m maintaining a respectable pace of writing.

I had written and published a book in 2017. It was 216,000 words long. Publisher pushed back. Told him that I needed to stake out my turf before some academic stole the idea and ran with it because they have more time. Asked me if a smaller version was possible. Told him yes, AFTER the first one is out there. That got me thinking about what the second one would be called and what it would cover.

I had a pretty good idea from working on the big volume. Early in 2018 I drafted a starting outline. Compiled sections from current book into a different order to align with the new outline and provide source material.

Made notes about things that I wanted to add and those I wanted to exclude. Put it in a file and forgot about it.

Then I got friendly persuasion from some folks who were going to take on the challenge, and always being up for a challenge, I committed to participating. The program is designed around writing novels. I only write non-fiction. Same process, more or less. Spent October 30 drafting blog posts. One reason was to get ahead of the game and have them drafted before I needed to post them. Other reason was to determine how long it takes to write 1700 words (the daily goal). It took me 2.5 hours with full distraction. Determined that I could cut that down to about 1.5 to 2 hours by eliminating the distractions.

Decided distractions were a lot more fun

Took a walk to meet my daily goal and think about the new book.

Determined that I could make this happen, it was a worthy goal, and I would more fervently regret not doing it than I would in investing the time necessary to achieve this goal.

Further decided that the things that would not happen because I was writing the new book were not that important. Besides, I’ve played enough computer solitaire for now.

Also decided that a new book would further my credentials in leadership and with any luck allow me to bring in a greater income from teaching and speaking. Maybe internationally. Maybe on a cruise ship. Maybe on a cruise ship on its way to an international port. So I registered to participate in #NaNoWriMo2018.

At 11:45, made popcorn. Got out pretzels, had an apple.

At 11:50 made a cup of tea

At 12:00 AM pulled out my outline developed several months ago.

Trashed it.

Started over

Identified 15 key elements – probably a chapter each

Determined with my calculator that 15 chapters needed to average 3,333.333…. words each

That’s two days on each chapter

Realized I could have done the same thing much more quickly by dividing the 15 chapters into the 30 days of November.

Reorganized the 15 chapters.

Studied them carefully

Reorganized the 15 chapters again.

Broke up a disturbance at the house.

Reorganized outline.

Thought about a blog post discussing my NANO journey.

Started writing that blog post (you are reading it)

Decided that was a distraction and I should stop

Went back and put outline in almost the same order as when I’d started.

Grabbed a section of the new book and started writing.

1:34 began wondering whose idea it was to start writing at the stroke of midnight.

Started to email writing buddy (in a time zone an hour behind me)

Discovered that she was counting her 471 words achieved by 12:18 and was going to bed.

Again wondered whose idea it was to start writing at midnight.

Realized that I had gotten to 1118 words

Discovered that editing the next blog post did not provide additional word count.

Checked twitter and had no notifications,

Wrote two tweets of affirmation toward my daily goal of at least ten each day

Looked at the clock and saw it was 1:47.

Reminded myself that I had committed to write for two hours with the goal of getting 1700 words on paper.

Felt disappointment that the words in my tweets did not count toward the daily goal

Went back to writing.

Realized that punctuation does not count as a word.

Decided to omit punctuation to speed up the process

I’ll catch that in editing

Re-read what I’d just written.

Decided that reading things without punctuation was difficult.

Recognized that I’m not e e cummings

Went back and added the punctuation. Some of it. On those parts where I figured out what I was trying to say.

Realized that emailing my writing buddies didn’t enhance the word count.

Kept writing

Word count was at 1866

Clock said 2:03

First day of NANO complete. Until I get some sleep. And do everything else screaming for my attention tomorrow. And then get back on this later tonight.

Contemplated the number of things that can distract you while you are writing. It’s a bunch.

Will I survive 30 days of this?

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With an extensive career in government contracting, Tom has found many examples, both good and bad, of leadership. These posts are based on his latest book, Sustained Leadership WBS, published by Morgan James. Tom is available to speak to your team on the importance of developing sustained leaders.


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