NaNoWriMo Journal 2015: 14

Monday, 23 November 2015

The end of NaNoWriMo 2015 looms large on the near horizon and I can say that for the first time in my nano history I feel fairly confident. In 2013 and 2014 I spent a sleepless, highly caffeinated final week of November trying to write the bulk of my word count, and would only just scrape through the 50,000 word mark at the eleventh hour. This year I’ve managed to follow a technique that surprised me with its effective simplicity: I wrote roughly 1,600 – 2,000 words a day, drank more non-caffeinated herbal teas and got a whole lot more sleep. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, as it’s simple maths. 50,000 words divided by 30 days is roughly equal to a daily word count of 1,667 words per day. And yet this year, having actually largely obeyed that daily goal, I’ve found that my nano-related stress is much lower than in previous years. My graphs, for the most part, have been along or above the word count goal line. I’ve also made time for socialising, for exercise (though more would have been better), for staying on top of housework, and generally just being a bit more chilled about the experience. It definitely helps that I have a better sense of how NaNoWriMo pans out so I’ve been a lot more organised. Deactivating my facebook is a huge help, too. I don’t have to suffer through my various acquaintances’ political rants about whatever bigoted prejudice they’re toting this month.*

One trick I’ve hit upon is to write up to around 2,000 words in a day’s sessions or, in my case, 2-3 hours of solid writing, and then force myself to stop – even if I feel like I could keep going for much longer. This way, when the next day’s writing session rolls around, I can pick up where I left off because I still have plenty of creative ideas from the previous day’s session.

The key thing this week will be to somehow cram in about two extra days’ worth of writing to ensure that the very busy upcoming weekend doesn’t hamper my final word count.

At this point in the writing process I’m going back to earlier chapters and adding further explanatory material. Like, in my story, I realised as I went along that I needed to explain exactly why it’s important that main character Zaira travels to a different world, and why it matters that her ancestry traces to all of the major humanoid species in the inhabited worlds. Thus far they had been vague ideas in my mind, but I need to flesh out that detail to make it a cohesive story. I also find myself wondering how to develop the character Haimo, who I wanted to be an elusive and possibly hostile character – yet so far he’s been more like a friendly Fabio Lanzoni-type, albeit with reptilian ancestry. But I have now said too much…

Current word count: 37,531 / 50,000 words

Today’s writing soundtrack: The birds outside my window.

* As someone who’s been an active and enthusiastic member of a Pentecostal church for a significant portion of the last fifteen years, the current bit of newsworthy prejudice I’ve encountered via my facebook is the work of the Pentecostal-founded political party Rise Up Australia, which was most recently involved in racist and anti-Muslim protests in parts of Australia alongside other racist activist groups. What genuinely surprises me is that numerous people I met through church are supportive of its fear-driven anti-immigration views (interestingly the party was founded by a migrant person of colour but seems to appeal to white patriotic nationalists). Their facebook feeds are awash with fear-mongering images of religiously symbolic violence. In contrast, my small handful of Muslim friends that I met through university tend to share pictures of their latest sports competitions, updates on work and life, and photos of meals with their friends – you know, normal people enjoying life kind of stuff.

Whether the ancient prophetic calls to show mercy to the “alien in your midst,” or the example of Jesus who was, Himself, one whose parents fled to Egypt as refugees, to escape violence in their homeland, or the New Testament records of the spread of Christianity throughout nations, people groups and genders, it genuinely makes me wonder how fundamentally racist Pentecostal politics gained such traction in circles that uphold Jesus in such high esteem.