At the beginning of November I set myself three potential goals for National Novel Writing Month — 20,000 words or 20 days writing or 3 completed chapters — each objective easier than the last. So, how did I fare?1
For NaNoWriMo, stringing together 50,000 words qualifies as a “win.” I knew that was well beyond my reach, since I write too slow and procrastinate too much, so I set the bar at 40%, a level I had attained fairly easily the last time I tried back in ’07.
It seems I had under-estimated my ability to procrastinate.
I celebrated birthdays, watched DVDs, played board games, did yardwork, walked the dog, won money at the casino, ate turkey, did crosswords, and on five separate occasions took naps after work. I uploaded 54,000 words’ worth of pictures2 to Flickr. And I made bi-weekly sacrifices to the fiery wheel: During the month of November, I wrote nearly as many words in my blog entries (4,116) as in my novel (4,804).
That’s right: 4,804 words. I aimed for 40% and fell shy of 10%. Pathetic.
My second goal was easier: Spend time on the novel 20 days out of the 30. I reckoned that even fifteen minutes a day was better than zero, and writing regularly would help me keep the story moving forward. Instead, I managed half of that, a measly 10 days,3 and stalled in the story multiple times. To put it in perspective, in that same time period I managed to write 9 blog posts.
And then there was the gimme: My backup backup goal to complete 3 chapters. It should’ve been a cinch. I began the month with 10 chapters left to write, and the knowledge that each of them would be relatively short. Well, they were short. I still only managed to hash out 2.4 of them.
What it really comes down to is this: Blog writing is detrimental to my writing. I suspected as much. I’d formed that hypothesis long before I started at the Wheel, and for years it’s what kept me from throwing my pen into the ring, so to speak. If I spent time writing a blog, I’d spend less time writing my novel, right? So, what did I do the moment I proved my supposition correct? I blogged about it.
1 Like I’m going to tell you down here in the footnotes.
2 As opposed to Wordsworth on pictures: “Pictures deface walls more often than they decorate them.”
3 Not that I had measles at the time. Mumps, sure. And a touch of the plague. But not measles.