Daily discipline and nothing

This year I decided to attempt a few daily (usually morning) rituals. I would read a chapter in War and Peace. I would do some strength training. And I would write at least 100 words in my “free writing file.”

I had a goal for that last one. By trying random ideas out, I would hit upon a plot that I could then use for my NaNoWriMo novel (National Novel Writing Month…when people write a 50,000 word novel during the 30 days of November — it’s a great way to get a draft done quickly).

And so I have faithfully written since January 1st. I missed one day, which I then made up (word count wise) the next day. I have 41,000 plus words in that free writing file from the almost 300 days that have passed in 2021.

And I’ve got…nothing. Ten months of trying stuff out has not revealed to me a plot that I actually want to write about. Ten months of thinking about this question daily has not produced an answer.

I’m not sure what to do about this. Perhaps if I just start writing on November 1st something will come to me but if it didn’t in 10 months that’s a tall ask of a particular day.

Perhaps my method was off. Because of the small daily required word count, I’d write little vignettes, or observations, or tiny character studies. Maybe if I’d made the word count higher I would have gone deeper. Or maybe doing something daily makes it something to be checked off, rather than something to be explored. I don’t really know.

So we shall see if NaNoWriMo happens now. I do think it’s a good discipline to do some creative writing every day. But I wish it had been a bit more fruitful! Is anyone else planning to do NaNoWriMo?

9 thoughts on “Daily discipline and nothing

  1. I’m planning to do it for the third time. In the past, I’ve just started writing on Nov. 1 and much of it has been nonsensical. But months ago, trying to avoid virtual school duties (!) and struck with inspiration, I actually outlined a plot in an hour. I looked at it recently and I still think it’s the best idea I’ve had so far.
    I’m curious – do you put a daily time limit/goal on your Nanowrimo writing? Or do you just write as quickly as you can?

    1. @Elisa- I generally just try to do it as quickly as I can. I write pretty fast, especially if I know what I’m writing about, so it’s generally been a 2-hour-or-less thing per day. I plan in some days “off” (it can be hard to write on weekends/holidays) so I’m often aiming closer to 2000 words/day.

      Maybe I’ll outline a plot in an hour! We can always hope!

  2. This is my 20th year. (I have completed it about 12 times) but even if I don’t get 50 thousand words, I have fun. This year I am having a university dining hall deal with new leadership, a management audit, and a hurricane.

    I try to get 1700 words most days, and usually have a Thanksgiving marathon where I write between basting the turkey.

    1. @Susan – that sounds like quite the plot! Thanksgiving tends to be a bust for me with writing because of travel and no childcare. But I just write during the work day since that’s kind of my job anyway. (Fun fact: Juliet’s School of Possibilities was sort of a NaNoWriMo novel! It’s shorter than 50,000 words, but I did write the entirety in November).

  3. Would a writing prompt/day help, I wonder? The kind where you’re given a scenario and you have to follow it? I think NaNoWriMo has these on their IG account throughout the year. Maybe free writing is too free…

  4. I’m doing it as a rebel. I’m trying to restart a daily writing habit and don’t write fiction so I’m aiming for writing journal entries every day in the month of November. It’s unlikely I’ll get to 50,000 words but you never know. It will be good practice if nothing else.

  5. I know you are a professional writer and don’t want to waste your time, but I feel like the true spirit of nanowrimo is to start with nothing – maybe an idea, but certainly not a fully-plotted novel or even an outline – and just write, and see what mix of garbage and brilliance comes out.

  6. Do it anyway. Maybe it will be crap. But you’re a writer, you will eventually produce something worthy, it just may take some time. Be patient with yourself.

  7. When you read back over the writing you have already done, what sparks curiosity? Are there characters or situations that you wonder about? What happened next, or what’s the backstory – how did they get here? Maybe you don’t need a full plot (destination), just a path on which to start travelling . . . (This can be tricky for the planning type, ask me how I know!)

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