In order to finish the rough draft of my novel by December 30, I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve done NaNo in the past (I won the challenge in 2009 and wrote a fabulously bad novel), so this experience is not new to me. But what *is* new this year is that I’m using NaNo as a way to complete the rough draft of a novel I plan to publish. So the pressure is on to write 50,000 words this month, more so than in past years of NaNo.

My first week has not been spectacular. I’ve found it hard to write after a long day at work, or the baby has demanded my attention for most of the day and I can only write for the 45 minutes she manages to nap. Or I’ve had to grade papers (day job = teacher).

I’m up to 7,806 words, which is almost double what I had written for the novel before November 1st (current total word count for the novel: 15,750).  So in a sense, NaNo has already helped me increase my productivity. So that’s good.

But I’m also finding out that I am not a fast writer. I have moments where I get going and the words come faster, but for the most part, I just do not come up with ideas, words, lines of dialogue, descriptions, or plot developments fast enough.

This past weekend I tried a new strategy to see if I could get my word count up: Using the “Writercopter” (Courtesy of Hillary Rettig)

And so far, it has been helpful. I am not a writer who outlines her story (i.e.: a “planner,” as many in the NaNo community call it), but I do sketch out the basic structure of my story by figuring out what should happen in each chapter (and this is all very sketchy and rough; ex.: “Ch. 8, Merlin uses some kind of spell to find the Nomad [she is wandering on a distant planet]; she uses the whetstone to sharpen her sword and defeat the spirit creature that has stalked her”). So the Writercopter method works for me because I can skip from chapter to chapter whenever the mood strikes me, or I get an inspiration for a particular part of the story. Yesterday, when I was struggling with Chapter 6, I skipped ahead to Chapter 7 and then even did a little bit with Chapter 12.

Unfortunately, even this method hasn’t increased my word count by all that much. My new goal is 2,000 words per day. This should get me over the 50,000 hump. But so far today, I’ve written 46 words (and I just wrote them two minutes ago so I could claim to have written something before posting this blog).

The only thing that gives me comfort at this point is that my average per day is 780 words — which is more than the 350 George R.R. Martin supposedly writes each day.