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.

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.