I tried NaNoWriMo in February–here’s how it went.

Spectrum Blade was supposed to be done at the end of 2020. For reasons you probably don’t have to guess at, the biggest of which being… well, 2020, that didn’t happen. Then I’d wanted to finish it in January, but January needed to be spent preparing for the release of Serpent’s Crown, so once again, writing got pushed back.

Somewhere along the line, I decided that what I needed was a big push, so I decided to aim for 50,000 words in the month of February–the first chance I’d have to focus on writing again. February 50 sounded nice. It also sounded doable, presuming I was able to clear my calendar first. I planned to do all my video filming ahead of time, so I wouldn’t have any other work scheduled and I could focus solely on writing.

The fact I wasn’t able to clear my calendar before February started is a pretty good indicator of how things turned out.


Things started off pretty good. I’d hoped to work on Spectrum Blade the whole month, but I needed to complete a short I’d started for my Snakesblood Saga universe. For the first few days, I split my focus between the short and Spectrum, then switched to working on Spectrum exclusively once the short was done.  Unfortunately, I quickly ran into some problems. I’d veered off the outline pretty well when doing NaNoWriMo back in November, and needed to figure out why things weren’t working out as I worked to get back on track. On top of that, this was the week I launched some heavy promotional and advertising stuff, and it ended up needing a lot more attention than I anticipated.

Week one word counts:
1: 2252
2: 2026
3: 884
4: 1538
5: 441
6: 0
7: 0


Week two was the one that did me on. On top of juggling the promo stuff that started in week one, I was trying to sort out my outline and get the whole story back on track–which meant abandoning a few elements I’d planned to include, which meant rewriting how several things would pan out later in the story. Lots of zero days. Week two was pretty bad.

Week two word counts:
8:  485
9: 1159
10: 685
11: 0
12: 0
13: 0
14: 0


The week that I tried to get things back on target. My schedule was finally mostly clear–I’d caught up on stuff left undone from January, we were snowed in, and I was able to sit down with a revised outline and get to work. For the first time in a year, I had a week that gave me my “normal” word counts… the kind I got before virtual school and trying to cram everything I have to do into a tiny window of time in the evening. Unfortunately, the increased amount of time at a screen was obviously something my body needs time to readjust to, because by Friday I was fighting off a migraine. Working slower on the weekend got me some high word counts still, but I could tell from hovering on the fringe of that headache all weekend that I was probably going to crash.

Week three word counts:
15: 3313
16: 3517
17: 3390
18: 3356
19: 1318
20: 3227
21: 2120


The last week of February, I sat down to look at my outline and my word counts and I knew I wasn’t going to make it to 50k. I was still down by 20 and wrestling with a headache that wouldn’t leave me alone. On top of that, I was just plain tired, and there was no way I was going to get even close to ending the book, either. I’d originally planned for Spectrum Blade to be around 90,000 words long, and by this point, it became clear the book would be at least 120,000. That’s great, since it’s epic fantasy, but it also means it’ll take a lot longer to write.

Week four word counts:
22: 602
23: 1052
24: 784
25: 859
26: 798
27: 886
28: 0

Total words written in February: 34,692


For where I am in life, it’s obvious 50,000 words was too ambitious. I probably could have made it to 40k if the month had 30-31 days, but it didn’t, so I didn’t, so oh well. Spectrum Blade is just shy of 85,000 words long now, and it’s most likely going to need another 50k to finish what I’ve started. So the amount of time needed to write the first draft, edit, polish, and get the book ready for publication will all be substantially longer than anticipated.

Based on all that, I don’t think I’m going to make my original goal of publishing the book in August. I still aim to get it out this year, but it’ll probably be somewhere in Q4 instead of Q3, and that changes all my publishing plans for the next several years. I’d hoped to settle into a comfortable rhythm of publishing four books a year, but it looks like it’ll be 3 this year and probably 3 next year, as well, but maybe if I’m lucky, things will be closer to what normal used to be when we get to next spring. Maybe next year, I can try my February 50 again.

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