Monday, November 15, 2010

The skinny on my NaNo progress

Well, here it is half way through NaNoWriMo. I've written everyday, usually getting around 2,000 words during each session. I will admit that I haven't written today...yet! I spent my free time today mapping out the chapters I want to get down on paper so I know where the hell I'm going, because (you may or may not know this) writing is like traversing a forest with or without a map. Sometimes the map is very detailed, sometimes it is vague, and then there are times when there is no map, just a vague sense of direction in the traveler's (read writer's) head.

I started this whole marathon with a map for the first few chapters and quickly ran out of road. This has made me map my course and later in the day follow the trail until I find myself off-road-writing again. It's very tedious to maintain the pace of 2k words per day (let alone the 1,667 recommended) and produce a first draft that doesn't give the feeling of crap on the page.

Also, I only wrote 1,100 words on the 13th. I just didn't have it in me to produce more than that. I didn't really care at the time, either, because I knew I was ahead of schedule so I shipped my oars and drifted. By today, authors participating in NaNoWriMo should have written 25k words. My word count is 26,298 (and remember, I haven't written today...yet!)

I don't feel quite as cynical as I did that first week and may even participate again, but not too soon. Finding the time to get the words out of my head and onto the page isn't the challenge. I find that the challenge is sitting down to write and not having a clear path of where I want the story to go. Since writing my first novel (which I wrote without any notes or outlines, and which is still lingering in the editorial process), I've learned that I like outlining my chapters before writing. I'm not talking about very detailed outlines, but notes about what should occur in each chapter to progress the story. I keep a separate file of notes for back story or informational tidbits that help me maintain continuity throughout the length of the manuscript.

Now that we're at the halfway point, I've realized that my novel may not make it to the finish line. At 26k words, my story is ready to be finished. I know that might sound odd, but what I mean by that is that the story actually tells itself. I merely transcribe what I see to the page as the story unfolds, even with the mapping process I mentioned. The characters have a story to tell and I just put it to paper (or computer screen) as I see it. Well, this story has pretty much run its course and I know that to try to wring another 24k words out of it just isn't going to happen. If I'm lucky, I may reach the high 30 or low 40 thousands.

Anyway, that's where I am at the moment and what I see in my future. I'm already anxious to go back and read what I've written and judge how well I wrote it. Of course, I know it's a first draft so I'm not expecting a masterpiece, but I hope it's better than nonsensical junk. Like I said before (somewhere to someone, I'm sure), if I'm not going to give it my all, then I'm not going to do it.

If my story runs across its own finish line before the 30th with or without making it to 50k words, I will certainly blog about it. Regardless of whether I "win" NaNoWriMo, I plan to blog how I fared through the relentless slog through the NaNo experience. If that interests you, then stay tuned. Thanks for reading!


  1. I don't think that I will "win" nano this year. I am only at 13K, and I should be nearing the finish line. I had no problem winning last year, and maybe that has made me complacent. But, I am still having fun with my novel, and I think that for me, this year, NaNo's importance was to allow me to let go of my revision for a while and draft again. I love to draft, and I think I needed to draft. So, while I'm probably not going to finish in time, I love being immersed in my new novel. NaNo has been a success for me this year. :)

  2. Good luck getting to that finish line!!

  3. Thanks for the support, Heather. I've been pretty good about keeping ahead of the word count, but over the past couple of days I've begun to slip. At the moment, I am behind by today's count. I might catch up or I might not. Regardless of the outcome, I am pleased to have penned more than 35k words of this draft anyway. I think my outlook on NaNo has drastically changed. I can see more good in it than I did before. The more positive aspect, I think, is that it gets people writing and that's always a good thing.

    Good luck with your novel regardless of whether you win or (well, not lose...) don't make the 50k wordcount by the 30th. At least you've begun a first draft and no one can take that away from you. And, thanks for reading! :)