Posts tagged ‘nanowrimo’

Third Time’s the Charm?

It’s November, which means National Novel Writing Month.

I’ve tried twice now in 2009 and 2010. In 2009 I didn’t really approach it seriously. I started late, had no idea what I was going to write, and didn’t dedicate much time to it. I think that was around when Arkham Asylum came out and I spent my free time playing that instead. In 2010, I decided I was going to make a serious attempt and did much better, but still only finished about halfway to the goal. I skipped the next two years. It felt stupid to start another new story when I still had a half written one that I kept planning to get back to sometime.

This year I’m giving it another try. I wanted to join in the social experience and I decided what I could do was write another story set in the Pellia setting I developed during my 2010 attempt. It would be a way to flesh out the world some more and give me a chance to try an re-establish some good writing habits, possibly even get me to pick up the writing on The Unlucky Thief after November’s insanity has passed.

So I’m writing A Wizard’s Life. I have it planned out as an aging wizard telling his grandson about his life in five short stories, hopefully totalling 50,000 words. I’m hoping breaking it up into smaller individual stories will help me with plotting.

To hit 50,000 words in a month, I have to get roughly 1,667 down per day. I managed 1,998 on the 1st so I’m feeling pretty good at the start.

NaNoWriMo – The End… Sort Of

National Novel Writing Month is over. My final word count was 22,346 words. I’m now 0 for 2 on NaNoWriMo attempts, but I couldn’t be happier with how November turned out.

So why am I so pleased if I didn’t win?

I learned a lot this year about what writing processes work for me. I know how many words I can do comfortably in an hour (about 500 once I get warmed up). I’ve gotten my fiction writing mental-muscles back in shape. I’ve learned how to shut off my inner editor and accepted that the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. I’ve developed a writing support network.

I’m definitely planning on trying against next year. In general, I have between three and four hours a day for hobbies. That’s anything that’s not work or parenting related, which covers writing, reading, playing games, and watching TV. With an average of 500 words an hour, the best I can expect to do in a day is 2,000 words. Hopefully as I continue to write my average will go up, but assuming it doesn’t, I’ll need to be more consistent about WriMo next year if I want to win. If I can stay on schedule most days or stay within a few hundred words, I should be able to do it.

This year, I was pretty much behind from the start. I was better prepared than last year (not hard to do since I’d done no preparation), but I hadn’t expected to have so much trouble with the basic mechanics of fiction writing. For me, it’s a different set of mental gears than what I sue for blogging, and they were pretty rusty. Fortunately by week two I was getting into a good flow more quickly, but by then I was much too far behind to really catchup. Slacking off in week three didn’t help either.

Besides just the different mechanics of creative fiction writing, learning to recognize and combat some of my bad habits has been a real break-through. I always want the worlds my stories take place in to have depth and character. To accomplish that, I spend a lot of time coming with the history pf the world. Usually I spend so long on this that I never end up writing my original story idea. Doing WriMo has helped me learn to recognize and ignore that impulse. Now I’m able to just focus on getting the story down, leaving myself notes in square brackets as needed.

I had a major test of my ability to ignore my inner editor just yesterday. I was writing a major scene that I didn’t have a clear mental picture of. I knew as I was writing it that it was not good, but I forced myself to continue writing, to not stop and look at what was on the screen. Eventually the scene became clearer me and I left some notes to myself for when I come back for the first rewrite, but I kept moving forward and that was the important part.

Having a writing support group isn’t something I’d ever given much thought too. I was really surprised about how good some of the feedback was that I got earlier in the month when I posted about messing up a scene and having to backup a bit. I’d really just posted it because I thought it was funny, but I got some excellent ideas from reader comments. Twitter has also been a good source of encouragement, enough that a group of us are forming a writer’s group to help provide critical feedback on projects. I’m very excited to see how much more I can learn from sharing my writing with the group and reading others.

All in all, NaNoWriMo has been an excellent experience this year. I’m not planning to stop though. I’m going to continue writing, and I’m setting a daily goal of 600 words for December. I intend to increase that in January, but I’m taking it easy for December.

NaNoWriMo Midpoint

It’s the 15th already. Time is really flying by on me, even faster than I expected it to.

I’m currently at 15,619 words. By the schedule I should be at 25,005 words. You can do the math if you want to see how far behind that makes me, it’s probably not healthy for me to know.

Anyway…. I may (probably) not hit 50,000 by the end of the month, the NaNoWriMo site tells me I’ll be done by December 21st at my current pace.

I’m honestly not too upset about it. I’ve already done better than I hoped, and the story I’m working on has started to come alive on me. Plot problems that I wasn’t sure how to deal with have suggested solutions as I got near them. Dialog has been flowing pretty easily. Regardless of my word count on the 30th, I’m planning to keep plugging away at it until it’s done. The two biggest lessons I’ve learned: spend a little time writing whenever I can and don’t over plan.

Over planning has always been my biggest hurdle. My inclination is to write fantasy, and I’m always especially interested in the world building (probably my frustrated Dungeon Master side). The problem is, that my initial bout of creativity is always spent on the setting. Often I never even get to the story. This month has already shown me, that what I really need to do is sit down and start writing. I don’t need to have the world completely realized to do the first draft, and it’s actually better if I don’t.

Oops, That Won’t Work

I did something stupid while working on NaNoWriMo. I had a chuckle about it afterwards, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who makes mistakes like this, so feel free to share yours in the comments.

I was writing a scene where my main character free climbs a building. When it came time to get him down, I decided to have him rappel. The thing was this character is a thief who prides himself on leaving no trace that he’s been somewhere and no clues to how he got in or out. So I was trying to figure out how he could rappel down a building and not leave behind any equipment. How would he anchor his rope to the roof of a six story building and then recover it from the ground.

This is a fantasy novel, so I figured he would use magic somehow. I started in on writing out how he would do it and then midway through realized I’d forgotten a detail.

I have specific rules in mind for how magic works. In order to keep the story consistent, I was having the character use an enchanted copper disk as an anchor which would adhere via magic to the roof and could be released remotely. Then I realized that meant when he got to the bottom of the building, there would be a palm sized metal disk dropping six stories to either brain my main character or land in the cobblestone courtyard and make an awful racket. Not the kind of thing a stealthy cat burglar would use.

So I ended up dumping a couple of paragraphs and having him free climb back down.

NaNoWriMo Day 9

I’m still behind, but I’m not as behind.

By my calculations I should be at 15,003 words. I am actually at 8,336. I wrote 3,270 words today, which is amazing considering my average during the first seven days was 884. It’s also means that I’m only 6,667 words behind now instead of 8,270 behind like I was yesterday and it’s the first day I’ve managed to get closer to being on-schedule.

Tomorrow’s goal is 10k.

NaNoWriMo Day 8

Since I’m behind on the recommended word count, I’ve been setting my own goals. Both so I have daily targets to hit and in an attempt to get caught up gradually (rather than trying a single marathon day of writing).

By day 8, I should have 13,336. My goal for the weekend was 5k, but I ended up stopping 600 words short. I decided to take a couple of hours where I’d intended to write and play some video games instead, and I’m glad I did. I hadn’t played at all last week, so I feel pretty good about treating myself on Sunday.

My goal for today was 8k words. I squeezed in a bit of writing today during breaks at work, and I’m at 5065 words now. I doubt I’ll make a full 8k tonight, but I feel like I’ve been making steady progress so I’m pretty pleased, I’ll be happy with 7k by the time I go to bed.

NaNoWriMo Days 1-7

It’s November and that means it’s National Novel Writing Month. This is my second year participating in NaNoWriMo. I didn’t really have a goal last year, I only decided to participate after the contest had already started and I’d didn’t really focus on it as much as I should have. Despite all that, it was still a good learning experience for me.

This year I’m taking it more seriously. I may not make it to 50,000 words and win, but I’m at least going to dedicate time nightly to giving it a real shot.

Today is day seven, and so far I’ve been doing OK, which means much much better than last year but not as good as I’d like. The first three nights, I got a late start and generally didn’t sit down to write until around 11:30 or later. I’ve also be recovering from being sick, so I’ve only been able to spend about an hour each night before staggering off to bed. The first night I struggled to even get the 603 words down, and the second night was not much better. The third night ended with me getting stuck at the first major plot point of the book, it’s the event that initiates the major conflict of the story, and I just couldn’t figure out how to get it started.

So on day four, I was 3000 words behind where I needed to be, stuck on the plot, and just not sure how to move forward. I didn’t want to take a night off from writing though, because I knew that would break my momentum and likely turn into two nights off, or a week, and before I’d realize it there would be no catching up. Instead of just staring a my screen, I decided to change tactics. I started a new text file and started writing the first thing that popped into my head, which turned out to be a monologue by my main character. While writing like this I came up with how to get around the plot issue I was dealing with. The other thing that happened, is my brainstorming session turned into my story. After an hour and a half, I had 900-ish words and had actually moved the story past where I’d been in my previous writing.

This was great, since I’d finally found a good head-space to write from, but it did mean dumping the 2000 some words I’d written in the first three days from a third-person perspective and starting over with what I’d done in first-person from day four. Decisions decisions.

In the end, I decided to stick with the first-person work I’d done and since then I’ve managed to catch up and pass my original count and hit 3639 words.

I’ve kind of broken a rule of NaNoWriMo by starting over, since what I ended up doing was basically a rewrite. The general idea is just to keep plunging forward and leave any changes for after the 30th, but I hadn’t intended to do more than just type out some thoughts in an effort to work through my plot a bit. I’m still not rereading anything I’ve written or changing anything except for the occasional typo.

In case you’re curious, I’m working in WriteMonkey and using DropBox to keep the text file automatically backed up. I’m keeping notes in Google Docs. I’m reading Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem and Doyce Testerman’s This is How I Get It Done for advice and motivation. I have a copy of Lawrence Watt-Evans’ Second Draft printed and hanging above my monitor.

NaNoWriMo in November

As Stargrace reminded me on Twitter, NaNoWriMo is only two months away.

Now last year I decided to join on the second day. I had no outline or story idea, done no preparation, and was already a day behind. It didn’t turn out well. Still, I don’t regret it at all and I do think that I learned somethings.

So, this year I’m going to give it another shot, only this time with some actual preparation.

Lessons from NaNoWriMo

Today marks the last day of National Novel Writing Month, and while my final count of only 1545 words is a small fraction of the 50,000 I needed, I don’t consider participating a mistake.

I didn’t commit to participating until after it had already started.  I had done nothing to prepare and had no ideas about what I wanted to do.  I’d already been working and re-working a short story, but since goal of the contest was to write a full novel, I needed to come up with a new idea that I could get a full length novel from.  I was able to come up with a rough idea within a couple of days and started writing that first week.

I’ve had a few false-starts and the story’s details have shifted slightly, but the overall theme has stayed the same. This has given me some confidence that I can come up with a workable story idea on short notice, which isn’t something I thought I was capable of.

Besides building confidence, NaNoWriMo has helped me break a bad habit. I was finally able to get myself out of self-edit mode when writing.  I have always had a problem of writing and rewriting sections over and over again.  This slows down the writing process and leads to me over thinking what I’m doing.  The end result is usually frustration and deleting the file.

So while I don’t have a lot of words to show for my month, I do have the start of a good story, 3k words of background notes, and some better writing habits.  I’m pretty excited about the current story and intend to continue to working on it. I’m definitely planning to try NaNoWriMo next year, and hopefully with a bit more preparation I’ll get to 50,000 words. Having fewer great games released in October and November wouldn’t hurt either.

Jumping into NaNoWriMo

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in grade school.  I’m pretty good at starting stories and creating backgrounds and characters, but I’ve rarely ever finished a story.

One of the few writing projects I’ve ever completed was a children’s play when I was in high school.  My favorite English teach asked me to write one for the drama club’s annual children’s play for the following school tyear.  I had the entire summer break to do the play and I remember spending a panicked two weeks towards the end of the summer cranking through it.

So with all the twittering from friends about National Novel Writing Month, I decided to see if this provides me with the same kind of motivation.  Of course November is a busy month already between family, holidays starting, and all of the big games coming out.  I’m not sure I’ll hit the 50k mark, but I wanted to at least try and see what I get out of it.

You can check in on my progress (or buddy me if you’re participating) here.