Sunday, December 02, 2012

12 in 12: November, the NaNoWriMo adventure

So, NaNoWriMo is over, and it was quite a ride. Let's take a look at the story part first, and then a bit of technical advice afterwards :)

The story part 

For JuNoWriMo, I was a planner: I did a lot of prewriting, and ended up with the entire story planned out. I had short sentence descriptions of every chapter, and it 1) helped me through writer's block, and 2) made me bored with both writing and the story.

So for NaNoWriMo, I was a pantser: the only prewriting I did had very little to do with the story, and more to do with fleshing out characters. (Then a week or so before November, I decided to change the main characters... yeah.)

And you know what - it was great :) I had a vague idea of what I wanted to story to be about, and how I wanted it to end, and it worked very well. I didn't grow tired of writing which, let's face it, is what NaNoWriMo is all about.

On top of not really planning anything, I found a story that offered a fantastic advantage. The basic plot - young girl daydreams - meant that if I got stuck writing about her everyday life, I could switch to any one of the daydreams: vampires, zombies, dragons, and more.

Now, of course that might not work for all stories... but I was very glad to have the option to switch to another story line :) That does mean, of course, that I don't actually have a first draft right now; I have a ton of smaller stories that are spread out through the story line, and need to be assembled like pieces of a quilt.

The technical part

I got a couple of ideas from Rachel Aaron's post "Guest Post: How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day" about tracking my writing.

I tracked how much I wrote, how long it took, and where I was writing. Here are a couple of data points that I might be able to use to plan later writing:
  • I wrote a total of 50,582 words, and I wrote 16 days out of 30.
  • That means I wrote an average of 3,162 words every day - but in reality my lowest word count was 88 words in one day, and my highest was on November 30th with 11,406 words.
  • My highest word counts happened between 6pm and 9pm, and while I was using Written? Kitten! In fact, 75% of my word count was written on that website. 
A couple of notes for myself - and other first time NaNoWriMo'ers:
  • You can only update your word count the end of November 30th - and you can only validate your novel until the end of November 30th. 
  • If you - like me - kept writing until two minutes to midnight, you can always change the time zone in your profile, so it looks like midnight hasn't happened yet. Not to cheat and write more but to update your word count one last time, and to validate your novel. 
I was a little surprised that you couldn't validate once you had hit December 1st. I mean, all participation in NaNoWriMo runs on an honour system, where you are expected to not just copy and paste the same ten words 5,000 times. Why shouldn't you be trusted with the validation option on December 1st? But that's the way it is, and the important thing is knowing about it, so you can plan accordingly :) 

Would I do it again? 

Absolutely! There will definitely be a next time :)

In hindsight, I wish I had written every day, even a little bit. And since I said the same thing after JuNoWriMo, it's something I need to work on.

I also wish I had been more active in the Danish NaNoWriMo community. I went to the intro meeting in late October - and that was it. I haven't been to a single meet-up or write-in or anything.

There are plenty of explanations: I get home late from work and usually am not in the mood for going out again. And by the weekend, I was usually so far behind on my word count that I didn't leave the house but simply wrote all day. ALL DAY. And it did boost my word count - but I can't help but wonder if I had written more, or gotten a greater NaNo experience if I had gone to write-ins.

What's next? 

I want to work more on this story, and now that I have the basic enthusiastic writing out of the way, I think it's time to look at the structure, plot, story development, and all the writing techniques that are available out there.

What's also up next is my 12 in 12 challenge for December which is now the combined original challenges for November and December: knit or crochet for half an hour, and write down 5 things that made me happy each day.

To prepare a bit, I made a Pinterest board a long time ago to gather inspiration for knitting and crocheting projects, and I've settled on this one: the crocheted Calm Cowl (the pattern is a free pdf download). It's pretty basic; I just needed to buy the supplies, get a quick brush-up on the stitches (thanks to Crochet stitches for Dummies!), and I'm off:

The humble beginnings of the Calm Cowl
The humble beginnings of the Calm Cowl
I'll update as usual at the end of the month :)

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