Friday, November 25, 2011

I'm a NaNo winner...

Yeah. That's me. I won NaNoWriMo. Several days early.

I have to admit that I'm quite proud of myself. When I started out the month, I wasn't sure that I could do this, that I could stick with it, and that I could find enough words to reach the NaNo goal.

But I did do it. I validated my entry today, at an official 53,681 words, although the word count tool I've been using claims that I've written 53,722 words in the month. I'm not going to quibble; everyone knows that every word count tool counts a little differently.

So, I'm taking a little time to bask in the glow of reaching my goal, the NaNo goal. It feels good.

But, really, the NaNo win is just an interim goal. The draft isn't finished yet. I think it might be about half finished. So, maybe a month's more work? A month and a half, since it's the holiday season and I don't know that I'll be able to write very single day. And then there will be a second draft, and probably a third. Maybe even a fourth, if that's what it takes to get this novel in shape.

I don't have any illusions. A lot of what I've written this month will change. There are time-line problems. Dialogue will have to be re-written and cut, and perhaps added to in some cases. Events will likely not remain in the order I've written them in the first draft.

None of this is a problem. This is how a novel gets written. There might be that rare writer who can produce a publishable novel. I'm clearly not one of them, and I have my doubts about anyone who would claim to be able to do that.

So, I'll continue to update the process here from time to time. Because I still need to be accountable for getting the work done. And who knows, maybe as I get this thing in shape, I might even post a preview now and then.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nearly-the-end-of-the-week NaNo update...

So, yeah. It's been a few days since I updated here on how my NaNo is going.

Well, I've been writing every day, although word counts have not been as high every day as they have been being. Still, I've managed to write more than 1,000 words every day. Since I'm ahead of the curve as far as where I need to be to finish my 50,000 words by the end of the month, that's okay.

So, the daily word-counts:

Day 13: 2,428 words
Day 14: 2,089 words
Day 15: 1,963 words
Day 16: 2,053 words
Day 17: 1,320 words

I think yesterday (Day 17) was my lowest daily word count since the beginning of NaNo. It was a weird day, and a busy day, and I didn't write until evening. Still, it was a productive day, because while I was writing, I realized what needs to take place as far as a big reveal, and that it is nearly time for that to happen. This means that the work is on track and is generating the "and then..." that is necessary to keep the story moving. And, I hope, the reader turning the pages when this thing is finished.

As of the end of Day 17, my total word count stands at 36,640, which means that there are 13,360 word to go to win NaNo. More or less; different word count apps give different results. I'll have to see where I stand on the 25th, when NaNo's official word counter is supposed to go live. At any rate, I expect that I will be over the 50,000 minimum by the end of the month, god willing and the creek don't rise.

That doesn't mean, by the way, that I expect to be finished with this first draft by the end of the month. Most novels are more than 50,000 words long, and this novel will be no exception. When you think about it, 50,000 words really isn't a lot. Not if you expect to tell a story with any sort of complexity to it, anyway. But the end of NaNo won't mean the end of the project.

This is the novel that I intend to finish, after starting a few over the years. With any luck, it won't be the only one I complete. That's one of the interesting things about this experience. Even though I've been focusing on this project this month, I keep getting all these other ideas of things, both fiction and non-fiction, that I want to write.

NaNoWriMo, it turns out, is valuable in a lot of ways.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NaNo update, through Day Twelve

NOTE: Because I'm an idiot sometimes, I posted this to my other blog instead of posting it here. So, technically, this is a repost. Full disclosure, and all that.
Since I'm procrastinating on starting the day's NaNo writing, I thought maybe this would be a good time to post an update on my progress since my last report, on Day Eight.

Day Nine saw me write 2,705 words, bringing my total word count to 20,597 words, but I took Day Ten off and recorded no word count. I felt kind of bad taking the day off, but I had an opportunity to spend a good part of the day at the library at Fresno State to do some research for a non-fiction project I'm working on (not much this month, but it's a long-term project, so the time off isn't a big handicap. I found some material that will be very valuable to the project, so I'm glad I went ahead and took the day to do that.

It was difficult getting back in the saddle, so to speak, on Day Eleven, but I managed to write 2,167 words, to bring my total to 22,764 words. I wasn't especially pleased with what I wrote on Day Eleven, but I was pleased that I wrote, and that the story moved forward just a bit, even if there will be major revisions in the next draft. That's a given, so not a problem at all. As one of my Facebook friends said about giving hints ("Spoilers, sweetie!) about what you write in a first draft, everything will change anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

Yesterday, Day Twelve, I wrote 4,023 words, by far my biggest one-day output, and my total now stands at 26,787 words. That means I'm halfway to the NaNoWriMo goal. It's a good feeling, especially considering that it isn't quite halfway through the month. I can see now that my first draft won't be finished by the end of the competition, but that doesn't really matter. The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month, not finish the draft in the month. So, since I wrapped up writing for the day late yesterday afternoon, I've been basking in the glow of being Halfway Done.

But, now it's time to cut out the back-slapping and get back to work. I'm not going to try to equal yesterday's output. I'll be happy if I can do what seems to be my usual output of around 2,000 words today. Heck, I'll be happy if I make the daily average of 1,666 words that it takes to win NaNo if one writes every single day.

One thing I do think is interesting is that I'm seeing, as I write, exactly where some of the changes will have to be made in the next draft. I'm starting to adjust my work as i write, so that the new work will be more in line with what I want the next draft to look like, especially in terms of the story's timeline. But I'm being very good, so far, and not trying to go back and fix things I've already written now. They'll still be there when I finish this draft and go back to do revisions. It's enough, right now, that I know the direction I want to go with the story and can see what I'll need to do in the next draft to point the beginning of the story more squarely in that direction. And, that I can see more clearly every day exactly what I'm going to need to do as this draft goes forward to get to where I want to be at the end of the story.

The bad thing is (and I don't think it's really bad, just more ambitious than I had really planned in the beginning), I'm pretty sure that there is going to be more than one book before the whole story gets told. Which means lots more work ahead. Good thing I love the process as much as I do.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Day Eight...

After an unpromising start yesterday, I managed to write 2,083 words, bringing my total through Day 8 to 17,892, which means that if I'm good and keep to my goals, I should top 20,000 words today.

When I signed up for NaNo, I was hesitant. I'm not good with the completion thing when it comes to my writing. Now, if there is a reward at the end - a paycheck or a grade - I'm good. I don't believe I ever missed a deadline for a writing assignment when I was in college, and the only times I've missed deadlines for work, something out of my control has been going on - family emergencies, electricity outages, computer issues. But if I'm working on a project "just because" - just because it sounded like fun, or just because it might pay off someday - very often the work just slows down to a trickle and then stops altogether when something new and shiny comes along.

This is not something I'm proud of, and I'm getting better about it. But NaNo is one of those things that doesn't have enough of a carrot to it to keep me interested just on that basis. I'm finding, however, that it isn't as difficult as I thought it would be to motivate myself to sit and write every day, and to sit long enough to make my word-count goal each day.

Yesterday was a case in point. After I finished work, I had to go do laundry. Because we don't have a washer and dryer here, that means a trip to the laundromat. And laundromats, I've found, are like a box of chocolates. You never know exactly what you're going to get. Well, yesterday what I got was disobedient children and a mother who couldn't control them. They were there when I arrived, and they were still there when I left. I left with a splitting headache. I was so proud of myself that I hadn't yelled at anyone while I was there that I bought myself McDonald's for lunch as a reward.

But, being in a crappy mood after that adventure, and still having a headache by the time I'd gotten home, brought the clean laundry in, and eaten lunch, I really wasn't in any mood to write. I contemplated vegging in front of the television until it was time to go pick my roommate up from work, but there was nothing on TV worth sitting there for. So, I turned the computer on and started to write. With little success. I wrote about 700 words in a little over an hour, but I wasn't especially happy with what I'd written, and thought I'd probably call it a day. I had to leave to pick Pamela up anyway.

The funniest thing happened, though. After I got back home again, I had a couple of hours before time to go to Knit Night, so I thought I'd come back in and at least try to write a little more. I wasn't expecting much. An hour and a half later I had written probably what I like best of all the writing I've done on my NaNo project. I still had the headache. I was still in a crappy mood. But I overcame, and wrote something that might even be good. Goodish. Whatever. I went ahead and I wrote.

So, I'm beginning to think that maybe this is what I'm doing NaNo for: just to prove to myself that I can persevere, can get over the completion issue, and don't have to be "in the mood" to write. I've conquered that in my work writing. Now is the time to conquer it in my writing generally.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A week in...

I'm seven days into NaNoWriMo now, and I'm feeling good about my work and where it's going. New things are happening, and I've introduced a subplot that is meant to merge with the main plot later on. These are good things.

I wrote 2,598 words on Monday, Day 7 of NaNo, and my total is now 15,809 words.

I think one of the best indications that things are going fairly well is that I sat down to write at about 2 p.m. yesterday and came up for air at right around 5 p.m. I had completely lost track of time and had no idea that I had been writing for three hours. It has been my experience that this happens when the writing is going well. If it isn't, I end up glancing at the clock about every five or ten minutes.

I'm not sure when I'm going to find time to write today. I've got some errands to run in awhile, and I should go do the laundry, and then tonight is Knit Night. I could take the laptop with me to Knit Night if I don't get to write before then, but I'd rather knit. One way or another, though, I will get some writing done sometime today.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Sunday writing...

Sunday was Day 6 of NaNoWriMo. I was afraid that by Sunday, I'd be running out of steam/story to tell, or that I'd start to get bored, or that I just wouldn't want to write because Sunday is, well, Sunday, and I take the whole "day of rest" thing very seriously in a secular sort of way.

Turned out I was worried about nothing. I wrote 2,761 words on Sunday, and my total word-count is up to 13,211 so far. I introduced my villain, which was lots of fun. Although it was strange. I found myself writing in a slightly different style in that scene. Oh, well. That's what rewrites are for. But, it will be interesting to see if that continues when I write the villain's scenes.

I'm happy with how Sunday's writing sessions went (I wrote twice, with a sanity break in between scenes). I think I've advanced the story, and that is good. The writing is still probably a little dialogue-heavy, but I like reading dialogue-heavy novels, so I'm not seeing that as a particularly bad thing at the moment. There will be more action to come, however.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

I'm on track with NaNo, but not so much with my updates here...

I didn't get to post yesterday's progress with NaNo here yesterday. When I tried to get on the computer to do that last night, my internet was down. Should have known, I suppose. The cable had just gone down, too, near the end of a movie we were watching OnDemand. Anyway...

I wrote 1,792 words yesterday and was not especially pleased with what I turned out. Today, I wrote 2,173 words in two sessions, and I'm much happier. I've got the plot moving along, with little hints in what I wrote today of things to come that will move the action along more, and will put a little more action into the thing, rather than mostly having people sitting around talking to each other. Which will likely change in later drafts, too. But that's what editing is for, to fix what isn't working and what I don't like about what landed on the paper (or, on the hard drive) in the first draft.

My total for five days is at 10,450 words.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Some days, I feel like a real writer...

It's day three. Things are starting to move, story-wise. My characters haven't tried to do anything too out of character yet. And I can still think of the next thing that has to happen without too much trouble. So, I think I'm doing okay so far.

My word-count for the first three days is 6,485. I've exceeded my target every day, which is a good thing. I'm not really happy with some of the dialogue I'm writing, but I'm still managing to resist going back and editing. I can edit as much as I want after this draft is done. Right now it's all about getting words on the paper. Or on the hard drive. (And yes, I'm backing up. And I'm thinking of e-mailing every day's work to myself, as another backup, just in case.) Just throwing words and seeing what sticks (as Stephen R. Donaldson once wrote about novel writing). Probably some of what I've written so far won't stick. But I think some of it will, too, so I'm making progress.

But, it's midnight now, and I've got to sleep sometime. More updates to come.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Just a quick update...

NaNoWriMo started yesterday, and I wrote 2305 words in two separate writing sessions.

I'm trying very hard not to edit as I write, and so far I've been successful at that, but I can already see things that I want to change in what I've writen. But that's for after the first draft is done, after NaNo is over.

The first local writing meet-up is tonight, and I think I might go over there for awhile. I'm not sure how much writing will get done, but I've been finding that I get more work done if I'm not at home. I went to the library yesterday afternoon and got over a thousand words written in just over an hour. I suspect that if I'd been at home, I would have been staring at my laptop monitor most of that time, or playing Bejewled instead, or something else other than writing.

More updates later.