Postcember – Looking Back at November’s NaNoWriMo

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I mean, if there is a Preptober, it stands to reason there ought to be a Postcember, no?

Postcember: NaNoWriMo badge of achievement for updating 30 days - a calendar showing days, a green tick and a coffee mug.
Achievement badge for updating my “words written” score 30 days in a row

In my Preptober blog post at the end of October, just before I plunged into NaNoWriMo, I identified my “GAPS” for November. These were: the Goals I was hoping to achieve; how I was planning to keep myself Accountable; the Process I hoped to be following; and what I would regard as a Success beyond (or instead of) hitting the NaNoWriMo 50,000 words written target. Because I did not expect to write 50,000 words. In this blog post I’m going to revisit those GAPS and review how they worked out for me.

(Spoiler: They worked out very well.)

Thumbs up for Scrivener

I was very satisfied with the writing rhythm and routine I established. More the routine than the rhythm, though the rhythm worked well enough on many days. As planned, I used longhand with recording and transcribing, common or garden typing, and dictating into the computer. In the end, though, I mostly worked by typing directly into an RTF text file on my laptop. Then I’d transfer that to the Scrivener document I had set up for the novel.

This was the first time I used Scrivener to such an extent and I was very happy with it.

Postcember: NaNoWriMo badge of achievement for posting updates 14 days in a row. The number 14 on a fiorle dof burning flames.
Achievement badge for updating 14 days in a row

The outline of the novel, with five acts and thirty plot points that I set up in Scrivener before I started, developed and filled out as I worked. As I wrote, it was easy to break out new scenes from the original set of plot points as I went along. I gave each segment of text in Scrivener a title. These titles, together with the first few lines of each text that Scrivener displays automatically when you use the Corkboard view, were enough to keep me on track.

My determination not to edit beyond the day when I was writing a specific text also worked well. When I realised I needed to insert more information earlier (for example, about different characters, places, or things in the world of the novel), I could go back in the Scrivener document and add new segments in the appropriate places. I didn’t need to reopen sections I had already written and so I avoided the temptation to edit.

NaNo Discipline

Another very positive development was overcoming my November depression. (Also my fear of November depression, which is probably the more debilitating.) There were only three isolated days in the month when I felt low, and none of them was serious. In terms of my state of mind, this was the best November I’ve experienced for about 25 years. That’s not hyperbole.

Postcember: NaNoWriMo badge of achievement for the first time I wrote 1667 words in one day.
Achievement badge for the first time I broke the tape on 1667 words written

For the first time in all these years I didn’t have a parallel work commitment. (I mean I wasn’t also teaching or doing translating work.) And for the first time I had a creative writing task I was able to concentrate on fully.

I didn’t expect the NaNoWriMo discipline (1667 words per day on average) to work for me. I confess I sniggered at the badges of achievement. But in fact it all helped. Achieving my daily, weekly, and, ultimately, monthly totals were a good spur, and I certainly collected those badges. (Some are decorating this post.) There was, in the end, only one I didn’t manage to pick up. The one for consistently topping 1667 words per day, 30 days of the month, eluded me.

My lowest day of production was Saturday, 11th November (681 words written). There were 12 days in all when I didn’t reach 1667 words. On the other hand there were several days I surpassed it. My most productive three days were Wednesday the 22nd (3207 words written), Tuesday the 7th (2989 words), and Monday the 13th (2755 words).

And by the end of November I had indeed achieved a 50,000 word manuscript with, I believe, about half again to write in order to complete the zero draft.


I reported daily on Facebook and weekly on Instagram. For the first 15 days I forgot about Mastodon where I was also supposed to post daily, only getting into daily reports there after I realised I’d actually received some feedback and encouragement on the site. (I will try to be a better Mastodontist from now on, having discovered a couple of author communities there.)

Postcember: NaNoWriMo badge of achievement for starting - a clocking in machine with a hole-punched card
Achievement badge for starting NaNoWriMo

I also ended up posting daily updates on my writers’ group forum at Pens Around The World. My fellow writer there, Michael Pudney, was also committed to completing a manuscript in November. We pepped one another. Again, I had not appreciated in advance how helpful this could be.

Sadly, I never got into the swing of using my local NaNoWriMo group. I saw their occasional posts and that they had both online and physical meetings. I even promised to attend one of the online meetings, but it never worked out for me to do so. However the NaNo website’s daily upload-your-word-total requirement was also a spur.


I mostly wrote in the mornings before 12 o’clock, occasionally starting ridiculously early. On Thursday the 9th , for example, I only had about 4½ hours sleep and started writing at 3:30 in the morning. But that was one of the days I didn’t break the 1667 word barrier. Starting that early was no guarantee of greater productivity. (A good lesson to learn.)

I successfully wrote in 40/45/50 minute blocks. Between the blocks I got up, stretched, had a toilet visit, walked around, made coffee, etc. I recorded 128 of these in the month, so approximately and effectively I was writing for the novel about four hours every day. (I did some other writing as well on some days.)

The self-imposed ban I was under not to open news or social media websites, nor look at e-mails or view YouTube videos before hitting my daily target, or before 12 noon, whichever came first, was very effective. Of course, it only worked when I managed to keep to it. (It slipped at the weekends and towards the end of the month.) But I will try to keep it up even after NaNo because it does keep me more productive and less likely to despair over the woes of the world.


Postcember: The NaNoWriMo achievement badge for 50k in 30 days. For obscure reasons a Viking horned helmet under a sky with stars and fireworks
50k in 30 days

Yeah, you betcha!

I have never written so many words for one writing project in such a short time. Nor do I believe I’ve ever clocked up 50,000+ words in any of my previous novel writing attempts. I think 40,000 is the most I’ve managed.

The NaNoWriMo website allows users to continue after completing a November challenge. You can define another period and another word target, and then simply carry on adding in the daily total of words you’ve written, aiming for your new target. So that’s what I’m doing now. I reckon I need another 25,000 words to bring my story to a conclusion. I’m working towards a mid-January target at a rate of 500 words a day. This seems to be working for me. (I’m 17% along the way at time of writng.)

All in all, I am a very happy bunny.

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