I am the queen of creating unfair expectations for myself. Seriously. For the last five years, at least, my thought process going into Nanowrimo has been “how badly do I need to cripple myself to actually finish?”
If I’m not challenged then I get bored and I peter out and walk away. This isn’t just a thing in writing, and I get it wrong a lot.
Sometimes I get it right.
A couple of years ago I sat down for Camp Nano (and hey, that starts again in a couple of weeks, who’s in?) and I looked at what I wanted to write, and then I looked at the literally ridiculous amount of fanfic I’d written in the roughly thirty days previous. I stared at the numbers for a weekend, and then I set myself an utterly ridiculous goal.
“I can totally do this. I’m going to draft an entire trilogy in a month. It’s only one-hundred and fifty thousand words.”
I’m going to leave that there all bolded for a bit so we can all take a minute to mull over how ridiculous I am sometimes. I know what you’re thinking. “Uh huh. Sure, crazy person. That sounds totally doable.” Yeah. I know. I’m broken. But there’s method to my broken. Just hear me out.
So I sat down in the last week or so before Camp Nano and I made sure all my ducks were in a row. Plot for three books–check. Research–double check. Ridiculously over-thought world building–triple check. I did a breakdown of how much I had to write a day to make my goal–five thousand words a day. I planned out when I should tie up book one and move to book two. I was a little less clear on the tie up for book two and the beginning of book three because I wanted it to sort of flow and that means leaving space.
I sat down on the first day of the month and started. I wrote like the wind. I didn’t question anything, I tried to at least loosely keep to my outline, and I went. Somewhere around late week two I finished book one at around 75k. I was behind schedule bookwise, but not word count. We were good. I started on book two the same night I finished book one. It sucked. I didn’t know what I was doing and the characters were being uncooperative. I kept writing. Somewhere in the middle I lost the plot, or a sizable chunk of it. I finished book two at around 55k the end of week three (like nearly week four). I started book three the day I finished book two.
Now, I would love it if I could say I finished book three that same week and made my goal. I didn’t. I only managed 125k, and five chapters of book three before the end of Camp Nano. I failed. Only, you know, I have a hard time calling that a failure. Seriously. I wrote more than two books in a month. I’m proud of that because I should be.
Because sometimes the stupid tasks I set myself work out.
Sometimes they don’t. That’s not the point. You never learn what you can do if you never push yourself. Kate does this crazy insane thing where you sit down and write an entire book in a weekend. Yeah, I know that shouldn’t really be crazier than writing three books in a month. I tried to write a book in a weekend and I could barely get started. Everybody’s threshold for crazy is different.
There’s something to be said for knowing yours.
One of those books I wrote in a month is out in the world now. The second one is set up to meet the world in November (when I manage to knock it into shape, I never said writing a book that quick made for a good book). It took me an extra four months to actually finish book three, but it’ll make its way into the world sometime next summer. That’s a schedule readers love, but one I’d never have pulled if I hadn’t already drafted all three books.
Never underestimate what you can do. Life’s too short to be bored.