Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo - the finish

Hi all,

I started the final nine days of National Novel Writing Month needing only to write 10508 words to reach my 50,000 target. That should have been easy as I was averaging over 1800 words a day. Did I make it?

Day twenty-two: I had the house to myself for the next four days. You would think that would mean an ideal environment to write, but I like to take a break and slob around when alone. I was nearly four days ahead of schedule for NaNoWriMo, my brain was beginning to tire and I was developing a sore lower back from siting at my desk, so I decided to only write a bit on each of those four days. On day twenty-two I wrote only 464 words, for a total of 39956.

Day twenty-three: 287 words for a total of 40243.

Day twenty-four: 110 words for a total of 40353.

Day twenty-five: releasing I was leaving myself a lot of words to write in only five days I wrote 1006 words for a total of 41359.

Day twenty-six: I now needed to average close to the original daily total of 1667 to finish on time, so I upped the word count to 1965 for a total of 43324 words.

Day twenty-seven: 1685 words for a total of 45009. But then I accidentally deleted a chapter from my computer. I had given the chapter I spent the day writing the same file name as a previous chapter and then saved it. Ahhhh. Fortunately I had been backing up every night and was able to recover the deleted chapter from a memory stick.

I then spent a lot of time updating my plan for the next few chapters to ensure that indecision would not limit my word output on the final few days.

Day twenty-eight: 1731 words for a total of 46740 words.

Day twenty-nine: 1692 words for a total of 48422.

Day thirty: I only needed to write 1578 words. My back ached and sudden temperature changes had caused my asthma to suck my energy away. My sister visited. It was her birthday, so I had to at least say happy birthday. It was just as well I didn’t check my email early because the editor of Divine wanted me to write an article which needed to be submitted the next day.

I was checking my word count every 100 words or so and adding them to my excel spreadsheet so it would tell me exactly how many words I had to go. Finally the excel world count said 50014.

Yay me. I had done what I thought impossible. I had written more words in the past 30 days than I had written in the past six months.

What I learnt from NaNoWriMo

I can write 1500 – 2000 words a day. It takes about four hours of writing. Another ½ hour of planning, and many hours of thinking. Before I did NaNoWriMo, I would usually turn my computer on and have a look at what I had written the previous day and spend most of my time fixing it and not moving forward. With NaNoWriMo I mostly ignored what I had written previously.

I did go back and ensure that a character’s hair had not changed colour and I changed the dialogue of one character and made a few changes for the sake of consistency. I also scraped a couple of paragraph starts of a two chapters because I thought of a better way to start them.

But I did very little editing. Which left me with the thought, why bother editing at this stage? Especially as I tend to totally rewrite a story/novel on the second and third drafts. Why try to fix what will be rewritten? I think formerly my attitude was a bit like if I died, then someone might turn on  my computer and read my stuff and think I can’t write.

So from now on, my first drafts of anything are going to be an unedited sprawl of missed commas and split infinitives.



Satima Flavell said...

Graham, congrats on finishing so well! What an achievement!

Do you know how to use Outline view in Word? It makes it easy to keep track of your chapters and scenes without having to use writing software or having to save each chapter as a separate file. You'll need to learn to use Styles properly for it to work, but once you have the hang of it you will finish up with a ms that's easy to work on - you can shift scenes around, for example. And you won't overwrite a chapter by mistake!

Anthony J. Langford said...

Congrats Graham. If anything, it does force you to push on. It's the only way to get that first draft out.

Now for the real work.

Graham Clements said...

Satima, I have not used outline view, I will have a look at it. What's different about this novel is I am doing a James Patterson and having lots of short 1800-2300 word chapters, so in the 50,000 words so far, I have nearly finished chapter 24. For other novels my chapters tended to be well over 5000 words.

Anthony, I think it will be a lot more pleasant to edit due to those small chapters. When I start the second draft I will be able to set myself the goal of doing a chapter a day.