Tuesday, 1 December 2020

NaNoWriMo... did I manage it??

Back near the start of November, I considered doing NaNoWriMo - where you write 50,000 words of your novel over the 30 days of November. On the day that I posted about it, November was already 10 days old and I was already >1200 words "behind" (working on the 1667 words per day theory), which didn't feel like the most promising start. But as I'd done so much planning before the start of November, I gave it a whirl. I knew that on a good day I would be able to write more than 1667 words, and if I needed to stop and plan more, well, I would stop and plan more. A decade of writing experience told me that if I just turned out 50,000 words without a decent amount of planning, they would be 50,000 of garbage.

Did I manage it? Did I write 50,000 words over November?

YES! By close of play on Saturday (28th) I'd written 50,220 words in November.

Are they 50,220 words of garbage??

Hopefully not!

I didn't do NaNoWriMo officially. I don't have an account with them. I don't have any kind of badge or sticker to 'prove' I did it, but I kept a daily tally for myself, and, being a scientist, I turned it into a graph.


The small blue bars are my daily writing totals. You'll see that on several days, these are zero and on others, they are not as large as 1667. On the other hand, on a lot of days they are far more than 1667.

The orange bars are my cumulative total over the month. The grey bars are the 'goals' - a cumulative 1667 words per day, to give 50,010 over the month (+10 because of the rounding!). If the orange bar is bigger than the grey one, I was 'ahead' and vice versa.

How did I find the whole process?

A combination of stressful and motivating. The pace is relentless. 1667 words a day is okay. Take a day off and that becomes 3334 - an altogether tougher target for me - at least if I want to be able to keep any of the words. Two days off? That can feel like an insurmountable amount to catch up.

By managing more than 1667 words on most days, I put enough slack in the system to be able to take days 'off' - mostly for planning, but also because Life happens and some days it just wasn't possible to sit down and write. If you look closely at the dates, I was 'ahead' of the target by most Fridays and then 'behind' again on Monday.

I was glad to have written as much as I did, but I really need to take stock now. Usually when I'm writing, I take stock every few days, so my writing pace is slower than 50,000/month! Right now, I feel I need to spend about week going through it all, marking up scenes that will probably go, scenes that will change drastically, and creating a list of scenes still to write.

Would I do it again?

Maybe. But only if I'd already started writing a book and had detailed plans of where it was going and what was happening with it. The pace is high and I am genuinely pleased and surprised in equal measure to have written so much in the month. It's showed to me that I can do it. Time will tell in the editing phase as to whether I then feel I should have done it. If I end up taking far longer over turning a first draft into a final manuscript, then the process is not worth it.

Will I finish the first draft of this book by the end of 2020? That was my goal. Last month I wasn't so sure. This month? Maybe. The draft is currently just over 60,000 words. I'm aiming for a first draft of ~70,000, but I will need to stop, take stock and do some more planning before those 10,000 get written. I'd like to think I will have done the draft before book #9 reappears on my desk at the end of December!



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