NaNoWriMo is done! I validated yesterday with 50,240 words–and still had enough work done on my final project that I didn’t embarrass myself in my Skype conference with my professor!
What I love about doing National Novel Writing Month is that it’s an exceptional writer’s boot camp, and utterly puts me to shame when I complain the rest of the year about “not having time” to spit out 500 words a day. I cranked out an average of 1674 words a day for a month, and did schoolwork, and job work, and went to the gym, and took a long weekend trip with the fiance.
Granted, some things slip a little when words are such a focus. Andrew’s been cooking me dinner for much of the last month so I wouldn’t live on frozen pizza and Triscuits. My apartment is cluttered. Blogging, as you may have noticed, went completely out the window. My words aren’t of high enough quality to justify me trying to make a steady practice of 1,667. But it can be done, life and writing together, and I love that NaNo reminds me that I can make time for outstanding productivity in terms of output, and that my creative imagination will not poop out on me.
I also love that I’ve got about 10 new stories! Combined with the drafts I have written already, I’d say I have around 20 pieces to polish and prep for the MFA thesis next fall. Not too shabby!
Well, reasonably shabby at this point (I think only three or four have been through any kind of revision), but the real point is that for right now I’ve got the chance to dive into what I have and see what I can revise into something usable for a book, which is pretty cool. Plus, I am excited to get back to fiddling around on the blog after the month hiatus.
TGIO, in NaNo slang, means “Thank God it’s over,” by the way, which of course for any kind of serious writer is far from being the case. I’ve got my work cut out for me. But the tough slog of churning out rough material, plots and characters and settings, is over. The fun part, of reshaping these story lumps into something someone else can enjoy, is just about to begin.
One of the things you learn when you’ve written just over 30,000 words in 18 days is that sometimes, you need a little push to get those words on the page. The answer, for many of us? Music. The first year I did NaNo, back in 2007, I was following Neil Gaiman’s blog religiously. He posted a little gem that had made him smile called “Georgette Plays a Goth,” and I fell utterly in love. The bright, unbelievably catchy, nigh-indiscernible song of a waitress who likes to dress like a Goth from time to time had just the right up-tempo perkiness to shake me up and get another couple hundred words out. It is basically my NaNoWriMo anthem at this point: I only listen to it during November, but in November, by gum, I listen the heck out of this song. Ladies and gentlemen, the magic of Tullycraft:
Okay. So I’ve got just over 18,000 words, which is good, and work is mostly holding together, and I am insisting that this is not a cold, just a last burst of allergies, and there’s about a quarter of a made-from-scratch apple pie in the fridge. Things are hectic, but mostly good. I’m sorry I haven’t been around here, but basically every second I have I’m either writing NaNo or reading Madame Bovary for class. Fine, I am playing some Bejeweled as well, but only when my brain is too fried for more productive tasks.
There’s an impressively coherent new article up on the Canary Review about publishing NaNo novels, so probably check that out if you want to read something that’s not a total spazzfest. And now for a list of the things I bribe myself with in order to get words done:
- Slice of aforementioned pie (700 words)
- Episode of Dr. Who (1000 words)
- 1 and 2 together (meet daily quota even though I don’t feel like writing)
- Walk in the park (400 words)
- Bake something interesting (2000 words)
- Game of Bejeweled (350 words)
- Chapter of latest Discworld novel (400 words)
The 10K mark has historically been the tipping point where I knew I was going to have to see NaNo all the way through, and I just hit it! A day early, no less. I have no doubt I’ll need the word buffer later, but at the moment I’m riding high, and I have an apple pie in the oven to boot. My whole apartment smells like cinnamon and butter. Life is good.
I’m feeling cautiously optimistic here: I’m on par (even a little ahead) right now with NaNoWriMo, and hope to put more words in the bank as buffer against the dreaded Slump that tends to hit somewhere during the second week. It’s amazing to learn how much writing time I actually can wrestle out of my schedule, without sacrificing too much. I’m perhaps sneaking an extra few minutes here and there at work to pound out 100 words now and again, but I’m still keeping an eye on my projects, so I’m feeling okay.
The freeing aspect really is the quantity-over-quality permission you get while doing NaNo. I don’t have to worry if the scene sucks, or the whole story: get those 1,667 words out today and fix it in December. Most of my short stories run between 1,500 and 2,000 words. I’m writing just over 2,000 a day right now. It doesn’t matter if I write three terrible ones for every one story that’s half decent, because that rate will still leave me with about 8 workable stories at the end of the month, which is still a respectable productivity rate. It’s also helpful to allow myself to spew all the editorial and backstory, because I believe characters get rounder the more you know about them, and that it shows even when you cut it all out in a later draft, because what you leave is what’s truest to them. I tend to forget this in regular writing time because the spewing is ugly, and I’m reluctant to spend my valuable morning minutes writing something I know I’ll cut.
I need to go check on work now so that I can jot down another paragraph or two once everything’s in order, but I wanted to let you know we’re off to a good start, at least. Also, I’m temporarily suspending Flash Fridays, but I will post some story excerpts here in the next day or so. Onward to more words!
NaNo Word Count Update: 6, 820 (154 words ahead)
NaNoWriMo has officially begun! I stayed up for midnight last night and banged out my first 500 words before collapsing into bed. The hope (as it is every time I do this) is to get 2000 words done per day rather than 1667, so I have enough of a buffer to take the occasional breather day off. That hasn’t worked for me yet, but we will see!
Since I am trying to get 2K of fiction out daily, though, please understand I will most likely be posting less often here, although I’ll try and pop in from time to time (hopefully after meeting daily quota).
If you are reading this and happen to be doing NaNo yourself, feel free to let me know at any time what you are writing, what your word count is, and how the writing’s going! I am glad we are in this crazy thing together.
Word count: 1,890
Give or take a few hours, NaNoWriMo kicks off in a week! I’m definitely nervous–I don’t have copious amounts of time, and my ideas are sketchy at best–but there’s something about this writing community that makes me want to be a part of it regardless.
The plan this year is to crank out 50,000 worth of short stories. I’d say, “as many as possible,” but that logic train goes the direction of 500 100-word drabbles, when I’d rather have a mix of longer and shorter stories.
Beyond that, not too much to share. Class is kicking into high gear. I’ve got about 40 pages left to read in Light in August (Faulkner: pretty cool guy. Glad we’re reading him), one other book for next week, and then I get to swing into two translations of Madame Bovary in preparation for the final translation project. I’m slowing down on fiction to save lots of ideas for NaNo, and getting ready to throw a Halloween bash at the church on Sunday. I even had time to make an artichoke tortilla, which came out golden and beautiful. Life’s good, autumn is great, and as soon as I get a chance I’ll post properly about NaNo prep or the amazing stuff I’m reading or interior design or something, but for the moment I’m going to head outside and take a moment to breathe.