Follow up to: The NaNoWriMo 2011 Experiment
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. In this month, participants begin writing on November 1 with the goal is to write a 50000 word novel by the end of November. Of course, I’m not personally interested in writing a novel. But I am interested in blogging and recently I’ve been yearning to blog a lot more than I currently have been. I can feel the ideas in my head rushing to try to get out in the written form.
Last year, I succeeded, writing 30 essays totaling 54257 words, with 59851 words if you also count responses to comments. That’s 1808 to 1995 words a day, which I consider damn impressive.
This year, I don’t intend to recapture quite the same level of quantity success — I’m a busier guy nowadays. Instead, I want to accomplish two main objectives: (1) have an essay for every weekday and (2) write 50K words between the essays, personal responses to comments on this site, and comments written by me in any other public place. It’s a little scaled back, but definitely still a stretch goal for academic year writing. Hence, “The Sort-of NaNoWriMo Experiment Sort-Of Redux Extravaganza 2012″.
Drawing Upon Last Year
When starting NaNoWriMo last year, I laid out five goals:
1: I want to try different styles and manners of writing.
2: I want to show solidarity with my friends.
3: I want to honor the history of this blog.
4: I want to have the space to write about more than just religion.
5: I want to see if I can do it.
Reflecting upon those goals after I was done, I noticed 2, 3, and 5 were completed just by the mere accomplishment, and it was 1 and 4 that needed to be signaled out for further review.
For goal #1:
Perhaps this is a bit misleadingly stated without the further clarification offered in the original post, but I meant mainly that I wanted to learn to write faster and with less concern for my content being easy to follow and well-edited.
I think I accomplished this — there were a few days where I was able to pull 5000 words or so out in about three hours, while still resulting in essays of reasonable quality[. ...] I also learned how to get in the mood of writing consistently, and spending a bit of time every day (well, nearly every day).
For goal #4:
For my 30 essays, I wrote six articles I would consider specifically targeted at religion, two articles I would consider related to defending naturalism/humanism, and twelve more articles seemed related to philosophy.
Adding the four weekly link roundups, that would make 24/30 essays (80%) be targeted to philosophy — which, while definitely interesting for me to write and hopefully interesting for you to read — I would classify as “more of the usual”.
Which lead me to end with some self-advice:
If I were to NaNoWriMo again next November (no promises, depends on if other people goad me into it with that “solidarity” thing), what would I do differently? I would want to explore a greater breadth of subjects like I first intended. I would also probably want to enter November with a greater plan of what I wanted to write about; have more pre-decided topics — often coming up with a topic is more difficult and time consuming than writing about it.
I also want to have more notes prepared on each topic so I can quickly remember what excited me so much about the topic in the first place — sometimes I lose sight of previous ideas because I didn’t have the time then to write about them, and don’t have the exuberance now to remember what I wanted written and why I was motivated to do so.
I would also work to write more concisely — to bring essay length averages back to and potentially under 2000 words, so that I don’t have to speed through essays at the end, and so they remain at comfortable reading lengths. Then I can work on being able to write on more than one topic in a day.
This Year’s Goals
Last year’s advice gives a springboard for some new goals. Without further ado, here is what this year’s blog project will attempt to accomplish:
1: I want to be better prepared and more organized with my writing, in general. This year, I’ll be tackling the problem with a brief sketch of 30 possible essays I want to write, as well as an additional dozen backup essays in case the original 30 no longer feel sufficiently interesting once it becomes time to actually write them. Doing more pre-writing is also on this goal’s to-do list, with the intention of being able to recapture that motivation.
2: I want to have my writing “push forward” more coherently, working more concretely and intentionally toward answering my seven fundamental questions. I’ve already been working on transitioning away from reading just whatever I feel like and toward having a goal with my reading and a “reading path” I take. I want to make sure I’m appropriately valuing my time. With more to read than I could ever hope for, a reading list that will take over four years to finish and a list of links that will take about the same length of time to get through, I need to do more value of information calculations and prioritizing.
3: I want to clean house. I still haven’t finished my series on the Constitutionality of ObamaCare. I haven’t responded to my Wikipedia Four Millionth Article projection. There are a few other essays I promised I would write, but haven’t. I want to write all of those.
4: I want to again explore a broader breath of topics. Currently, the blog is somewhat dominated by commentary and philosophy on religion and politics, making up 21% of the site’s content, going to 30% if you don’t count weekly link roundups, site updates, or discussion roundups. I’ve already banned myself from talking overtly about religion until the new year, so that should help. Instead, I want to do some base broadening — building up the categories that have less than 14 entries, with a special hopeful focus on normativity, words, political science, optimal philanthropy, psychology, community building, and utilitarianism. Maybe I’ll even get some cryptography things going, finally.
5: I want to again work to be more concise. Since this summer, I’ve been gradually bringing down this site’s average word per essay count from the 3000 range to the 1500-2000 range. I hope to continue to do that and make my essays more readable.
6: I want to recapture my drive to write to keep on blogging throughout December and beyond. I’ve noticed that if I get into the swing of blogging, it’s much easier to blog the next day, and the day after that. But the moment I break for longer than three days, my motivation to blog on the next day goes down to 0 and it’s really hard to focus again. I hope to use NaNoWriMo momentum to keep me going.
7: I want to improve tangibly as a writer. More or less, the other six goals are a means to this. I’ve heard regular writing helps you improve as a writer, and I tend to agree. I want to find out somehow if I’m actually improving, and take steps needed to get the feedback necessary to improve. Feel free to give me suggestions and critiques.
Thus, I embark on my “Sort-of NaNoWriMo Experiment Sort-of Redux Extravaganza 2012″ to (1) have an essay for every weekday and (2) write 50K words between the essays, personal responses to comments on this site, and comments written by me in any other public place. Wish me luck! I’ll need it!
I now blog at EverydayUtilitarian.com. I hope you'll join me at my new blog! This page has been left as an archive.