Surviving NaNoWriMo: Week One

I finished my first week of NaNoWriMo 2015 and am now entering into Week #2.  No big deal, right?  I write for a living so it should be easy to be productive and meet word counts. But, truthfully, sticking to the commitment was tough. It probably didn’t help that NaNoWriMo started on the day I was out of town attending the Pitt Slovak Festival to give a talk. 

There were a few other challenges (I am trying hard to not turn them into excuses). I wasn’t in my usual work environment and had to schedule my writing session before I left for the festival. The following day (Day #2 of NaNoWriMo) I spent driving back to New York (a 7-hour trip) and then conducting an online meeting for a Writing Intensive I am teaching. But I still managed to write something.

If you are participating in NaNoWriMo you can add me as a buddy (I am registered under GenWriter) and learn more about my chosen project from my NaNoWriMo profile), but here are ten quick facts (the basics) about what I am writing in November.

1. It is a work of nonfiction (probably “true crime” but I’m not sure I like that category).

2. The setting is “somewhere” in Pennsylvania (mid-late 1930s).

3. The story includes revenge, murder, and plenty of other twists and turns.

4. I have been spent more than 10 years researching for this book (writing on/off for 6).

5. The focus is not on family history, but I did extensive genealogy research for it.

6. The book is NOT about my family or anyone related to me in any way.

7. I have a co-author who is not participating in NaNoWriMo.

8. Structure: Three parts; Approx.15 chapters, Preface, Epilogue Appendix, Notes.

9. The story truly sounds more like fiction than nonfiction (but it really happened).

10. The narrative is complex and I really have no idea where it is going.

To elaborate a bit on #10, I keep wavering about the best way to present the story (chronological, flashback, or some sort of “creative compilation”?  I only like about half of what we have written thus far. As I go through NaNoWriMo, I’ve considered tossing out most of it, salvaging some of the nuggets, and just starting over.

Week 1 NaNoWriMo Report Card 

My word counts per day have ranged from my lowest 367 (Day 1) to my highest 1678 (Day 5), for a grand total to this point of 8,290. 

For the record, I spent the first couple of days storyboarding my chapters. For the storyboarding process (as well as for writing) I am using Scrivener for Windows (desktop) and Scrivener for Mac (when I I am writing on my laptop). The Scrivener storyboard serves as my “bird’s eye view” of the project. The Dashboard on the NaNoWriMo site offers useful statistics.  It guilts tells you how you are doing and offers projections for completion, including:

  • Your Average Per Day __
  • Words Written Today __
  • Target Word Count (50,000)
  • Target Average Words Per Day(1,667)
  • Total Words Written __
  • Words Remaining __
  • Current Day __
  • Days Remaining __
  • At This Rate You Will Finish On ___
  • Words Per Day To Finish On Time  ___

In terms of the last two stats, I am not doing so well.  My projected finish date is December 19, 2015 (this is beyond the official completion date), and to finish by then I will need to write 1,814 words per day.  While this isn’t horrible, it isn’t great either.  The bottom line is I really need to step it up if I am to “win” NaNoWriMo this year. It is not often that I back down from challenges so I am “in it to win it.” What I need is some serious seat time—this means “rear in chair” and “fingers on keyboard.”  

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo 2015? How did you do during your first week in? I would be interested to hear about your successes, challenges and thoughts in the comments section. 

Onward to Week 2!

Copyright 2015, Lisa A. Alzo
All rights reserved


2 thoughts on “Surviving NaNoWriMo: Week One

  1. I'm not sure you could call what I'm doing "participating." I signed up, have a story in mind, but have written zero words. It's that "seat time" thing you mentioned. Seems like whenever I'm in my seat, something else comes up! 🙁

  2. Hi Lisa, I'm honored to add you as a buddy. I'm participating as Digs4Genes. I have 4,500+ words so far but I'm a rebel or more accurately, a cheater. I'm taking my genealogy blog posts and turning them into a book. I'm using Scrivner for the first time, referring to your Bootcamp seminar on using the program. 😉 My challenge has been to decide how to organize the book. So far, it's going to be by surname in alpha order, then chronologically within surname. I don't know if I should use Binders to store each surname or not. Now, it's just one long document which helps for word count. -Denise

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