Post NaNo Debriefing

I ended up with four good non-fiction essay drafts, four blog topics, two bonafide novel ideas for next year’s NaNoWriMo, and a caffeine-monkey that I need to get off off my back. My experience closely paralleled Chris Baty’s book.

  • 11/1 – 3enthusiasm. I was sitting in the corner of Cafe Allegro and just stared at my screen for half an hour trying to think of where to start. (“At the beginning,” the crowd yelled. I asked, “WWQTD?” “We meant: Somewhere in the middle, then flip around a lot,” they retorted.)
  • 11/4 – 8Cosmic angst.. Two of my characters were despondent about the election,
    seriously considering emigrating to Canada. It didn’t help that the third character gloated. When she did an obnoxious butt-wiggle and tossed around the m-word in casual conversation, I had to enlist a fourth character to talk everyone down. That worked, but they didn’t want to be around each other for a few days….
  • 11/9 – 12 The Author hits the wall. See above.
  • 11/13 – 15It’s all about volume! I felt bad that I started falling behind and wrote two large bursts of stuff. (Thank goodness for Star Trek syndication.)
  • 11/16 – 19 Work gets in the way.. I was very busy with work and getting only 4 hours of sleep a night. My spouse suggested that, given all the other things I have going on right now, NaNoWriMo wasn’t a good idea
  • 11/20 – 25 Time to Confute. Having written so much bad stuff already, I didn’t want her to be right. Ironically, this was my best material.


What worked very well for me was getting out of the house and away from my normal distractions.
In the early part of the month I had business meetings in Seattle. I’d hang out at
Cafe Allegro for a few hours, armed with great coffee, a pastry, and wireless access for impromptu research. It’s too bad there aren’t more coffeehouses like this on the east side. Later in the month, I’d hung out at the Bellevue Library. It’s quiet and they have free wireless, but the coffee is very bad.

The first graph is how productive I really was. The green, horizontal line is the 1,667 words/day, what a participant writing every day would have to maintain to hit 50,000 words. The black diagonal line is the overall pacing line, and the red, squiggly line is how I fared, even with breaks. When I was productive, I was very prolific, averaging 3,364 words per session and making up for down days.

On the several days when I didn’t write, I tried jotting down a sentence with an idea. I’d go back a few days later and flesh it out. The second graph shows this “theoretical consistency.”
(Ah, the joys of data manipulation!)

Actual productivity Theoretical consistency

4 thoughts on “Post NaNo Debriefing

  1. So THAT’S how you did it.. coffee AND pastry! If only I would have known sooner.

    By the way, your graphs… hopeless math/computer gook is written all over those. 🙂

  2. Coffee and pastries were the only writer-vices that I could deal with. Cigarettes are cost-prohibitive and I have never been able to hold my alcohol. Besides, would I start with cheap, domestic beer and work my way up to Chilean wines, or just go for the hard stuff (Zima).

  3. Congratulations! Definitely digging the graphs. Mine from the nano report card is sort of scary since it plots the actual number of words on a line wwwwwaaayyyy down at the bottom with the goal and projected (based on my previous productivity) in a very steep diagonal line that resembles nothing so much as the first hill on a roller coaster.

    And good for you on the additional ideas! Gives you a head start on next year 😉

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