NaNo What Now?

Finding your editing process, revising your NaNoWriMo book and building a writing career through publishing and beyond

Building a Writing Life

start a writing habit, find time to write, discover your process and commit to your writing dreams Non-Fiction

This year, I decided to start doing my writing debriefs quarterly. Partly because I just don’t have time anymore to take the incoherent screeds from my private writing journal and make them pretty enough to post every month, partly because it better reflects the amount of work I’m doing (ie, this year I’m only doing about as much work in three months as I used to do in one). But since my writing year starts in December, that divides the year up nicely by season into Q1 Winter (December, January, February), Q2 Spring (March, April, May), Q3 Summer (June, July, August) and Q4 Autumn (September, October, November) which my brain likes.

So without further ado, let’s talk about…


Total Words Written This Month

New Words Only


As I do every year, I took the whole month of December to regroup and form a plan for the year ahead. This was even more extensive than in the past because I knew going in that I would have less time in 2018 to write than ever before so I needed to get organized if I was going to make the most of what little time I did have. I don’t know that I’ve ever spent so much time planning and rethinking how I work so it was a lot of work on the backend that I hope will pay off in the future.


  • Adding new motivational features on my Word Count spreadsheet that show me highest and lowest word counts for all time vs this year for both days and months to give me targets to shoot for
  • Add new charts to my Lifetime spreadsheet that compares my writing for every year that I’ve done this challenge
  • Organized ToDoist, which I was already using casually for my To Do list and daily tasks, to be a more robust project management tool to help me balance personal, writing, and e-commerce tools day to day
  • In an attempt to get a better view of the Big Picture and prioritize my largest projects, I set up two Kanban style Project Management boards (for writing & e-commerce) using Trello
  • I created a simplified, physical version of this Kanban board on the wall of my office that only includes the top three projects in each category
  • Distilled all my plans for the year into a philosophy for the year which I then made the silly graphic for I showed you in this post

(I hope to do a future post explaining exactly how I’m doing the whole Todoist, Trello, Kanban board on my wall thing because it’s pretty cool and exactly what I’ve been looking for.)

Also worked on…

  • Christmas, which is so much work as a parent, MY WORD
  • The kiddo’s birthday

This month in writing summed up by a GIF…

So much of my writing process comes down to this GIF.


Total Words Written This Month

New Words Only


After all the work I did in December to get myself organized and devise a new plan of attack, I went into January full of fire. I knew what I had to work on and how to do it. And it was going great! The work I’d done in December paid off, my new systems were working well and it was happening! Rising action!

But a lot of what made me so productive in January was because I started staying up later to give myself that time to work and write. As discussed in this post, my theory was that if other busy writers can get themselves writing time by waking up a few hours earlier to write before work or kid duties, surely I could do the same thing by staying up a few hours later! Unfortunately, I failed to take into account how little sleep I was already getting because of the baby and my weeks of productivity came to a crashing halt as I got back to back to back sick.

I ended the month on a black moment. Would I ever find time to write again? Maybe I should just quit forever.


  • Rewrote all the interstitials in the Fourth Orange full length play to fit the new theme.

Also worked on…

  • Started revising Arm Candy based on its premiere production.

This month in writing summed up by a GIF…


Total Words Written This Month

New Words Only


I was finally starting to feel better from the various stacked diseases of January when we left for vacation the first week of February. It was our first vacation in two years and our first vacation as a family of four so it was pretty exciting. We all had a really nice time despite the fact that, halfway through the week, the baby and I got sick yet again. It was a bad cold and fever combo thingie and I did absolutely nothing to care for myself while having it because this trip was a lot of go go go and walking and not even remotely resting. So that was dumb and meant that I only just shook that illness a few days ago here in March. Then we got home from vacation and, while sick, I had a big family event to plan and then another one and then other obligations and the month went by in an absolute whirl of busy and sick.


  • Set-up and hosted a major party while sick as heck with only 5 days to prep which felt like a major accomplishment at the time.
  • Enjoyed our very first vacation as a family of four!

Also worked on…

  • Getting all the snot out of my nose. Hey, it was a full time job some days!

This month in writing summed up by a GIF…

Like this, but sicker.

Yearly Word Count Goal Progress

Overall Word Count for the Year
87,197 / 350,000 words (25%)

New Writing Only
51,788 (59% of total)

On Track

I came out of this quarter with three big revelations. The first was that I have to take better care of myself and need to get more sleep (I am no longer allowing myself to stay up past midnight). The second was about my anxiety level and how to manage it by making better choices when I take a break (i.e., if I’m already on overwhelmed and take a night off, I should do something that is a release, like watch a funny movie, instead of playing that video game that is fun but also frustrating), a realization all credit for which goes to Chuck Wendig.

And the third and biggest one was that I’m at the point where maintaining my career (meaning both the fiction and e-commerce halves of it) is so much work it, it takes up all of what little time I have right now. In other words, I spend so much time just trying to stay afloat that I never make forward progress… unless I buy myself more hours by staying up too late and cutting out sleep… which I am no longer allowed to do (see revelation the first).

I need to figure out a solution to that last one, pronto, but we’ll talk more about it in a later post because this is already too long.

Up Next

As winter comes to a close, (By calendar anyway. It’s apparently going to just keep snowing forever now I guess.) here’s what my focus is as we Spring into Q2.

  • Slow and steady wins the race. If I can only do 30 minutes of editing a night, then I should do it instead of getting frustrated I don’t have two hours. Any progress is good.
  • Find the balance. That’s really the theme for this year as a whole but, specifically, I have to find the balance between maintaining my career and growing it, editing and new writing, and the two halves of my career (e-commerce and fiction).

When it comes to specific projects, I don’t even want to list what I want to get done and when because it’s become too discouraging. There are so many projects I’m on absolute FIRE to work on write now and want to be rocketing ahead like I used to be able to do and instead I’m put-putting along bit by bit and it’s frustrating. I’m trying to focus on the fact that any forward progress is good and that there will be time enough later to write everything else but it’s something that still grates at me daily.

When I had the time, I had no idea what I was doing. Now I know what I need to do but I have no time to do it.

So, for now, I’m working on all the Tale of Tales revisions. (Which is a complicated nightmare, btw. There are THREE separate versions of SIX different plays so the work for every revision pass through expands exponentially. WHY did you people let me do this to myself?) When I finish that, I can finally look forward and starting planning what comes next but, since who knows how long it will take me to finish revising at this annoying stop and start pace, I dare not say when that could be. In my dreams, I’m putting out three full length plays this year but, in reality, I’ll be lucky if I get at least one finished.

That said I will be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this April so that should hopefully add a nice word count boost.

In the meantime, breathing. One word after the next. One day at a time. I may be going slow but at least I’m still going!


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About the Author

Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer who loves writing of all kinds except for writing bios like this.

Books and Plays by Hillary DePiano


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