On the morning of the twenty eighth of December, as was his usual practice, Travis sat down in his room to review the year gone by and plan for the year ahead.
He was at his parents' house in the town, where he usually spent his year-end holiday. He naturally started to think about the year gone by in terms of work and his career.
The year, he noted had been good. He had gotten quite a few challenging assignments where his knowledge had been put to the test. He had learnt a lot during these assignments. In each successive assignments, he was getting assigned positions of increasing responsibility. The last month had been particularly hectic, but their efforts had ensured that their year-end holiday remained unaffected. And the planned work at Gear-Up meant that this trend of challenging assignments would continue next year as well. He wrote down a few points in his notebook regarding what he needed improvements and what new things he needed to learn in order to further his career.
Next was a very brief examination of his personal life. There was really nothing worth noting here, as Travis was not much of a people person. He jotted one or two points about how he needed to mix more with people (the only constant in each of these yearly reviews) and moved on to the part he was more excited about.
It was finally time to review his NaNoWriMo experience.
He first decided to begin with things he did right. The first thing, he noted in this regard, was that he had set realistic expectations right from the start. Considering that this was his first attempt at writing a novel and the fact that majority of his free time for writing came from weekends, he had been right in taking the completion of the story as the main goal, and making the word count as a secondary objective. He had utilised his time somewhat effectively (but could have done better, he reflected), which had not caused him any serious delays and had ensured that he was more or less on schedule.
Which brought him to the things he had not gotten right. One major mistake, he noted, was that he had not devoted sufficient time and effort in planning the organisation of the story. Had he taken more time to develop the plot before he started writing, as against developing it during writing as he had done, he would have ended up with a better end result. Also, it would have helped him in structuring the story better. Another thing, he noted, was the lack of character development. And lack of sufficient research completed the troika of the principal mistakes in the way he had gone about writing his story. Oh, well, he thought, he would try to be better next time.
This led him to the most important question of all, will there be a next time?
Overall, he had enjoyed writing the novel. It had helped in more days than one. For starters, it had helped him to improve his creative thinking skills. He had ended up applying things they used at work to the story writing process, which had helped him gain a better understanding of those concepts. His vocabulary had increased. And the decision to walk in order had helped him for finding solution to work related problems as well, in addition to the good effects on his health.
And most of all, he had enjoyed it immensely. This he decided, was the only thing which was enough to participate next year.
Would work get in his way next year? Would time management be a problem? Of course, he would be a fool to think otherwise. But he had gotten thus far this year. Maybe if planned and executed everything properly, he might even reach the elusive target of fifty thousand words. So that settled it.
Also, he realised that if he changed the approach to NaNoWriMo a little bit, he might end up getting more out of the experience. He decided to start preparing the plot for his story from January next year itself. That way, in eleven months, he would have a sufficiently developed plot. This would be the input in the month of November, when he would actually begin writing. He realised that, something even as simple as reading a book during his commute between home and office would help him to achieve this.
So he started writing down points which he should keep in mind for next year's NaNoWriMo.
Enjoy the process of writing, rather than focusing on the word count. But at the same time, keep the goal of completing the novel in sight.
Effective time management is necessary to balance both work and NaNoWriMo. Factor unexpected setbacks and delays while deciding on the timelines.
Be on the lookout for onset of writer's block.
Keep developing the plot and researching the story elements throughout the year, so that you are clear what and how to write when NaNoWriMo actually starts.
Keep writing short stories throughout the year to keep your skills in shape.
One other thing which remained was the means of measuring the improvement of his skills as a writer. At work, Travis followed a very simple procedure to check how much he had improved as a software developer. He would revisit code he had written in the past which was regarded as perfect at the time of writing. If during this review, his reactions ranged from anywhere between "I could have written this part a bit better" and "I wrote THAT! What was I thinking!!", then he would consider it as an indicator of improvement in his knowledge and skills. So he added another point.
Keep periodically revisiting and reviewing past works you regarded as perfect or well-written. If you are able to find valid faults in it, then you have grown as a writer.
As he was about to close his notebook, his eye fell upon a book on the bed, and he paused.
It was his copy of 'The Mythical Man-Month'. He had bought it earlier this month and had finished reading it yesterday. Looking at it, something occurred to him and he added another point.
Avoid falling prey to the second-system effect.
As he was finishing writing the last point, he heard his mother's voice announcing that lunch had been laid out on the table. He closed his notebook and made his way towards the dining room.
"T-Minus three days and counting." was the thought running through his mind as he took his seat at the table.ns 184.108.40.206da2