Tag: nanowrimo.2009

NaNoWriMo Day 24 (50K!)

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 40,000 words
Personal par: 2,000 words/day
Personal total: 50,206 words

I passed the 50,000 word mark today, which means that I have successfully completed the NaNoWriMo challenge for 2009. It marks the first time that I have ever done this. I also had a record day today, writing 4,808 words in a total of 3 sessions.

For those following along, you might have notice that I missed some days. I did no writing on Saturday or Sunday. This wasn’t exactly planned. We had visitors in town, and I planned to write in the mornings, but things got so hectic, and I was tired, and well, I just didn’t get around to it. Fortunately, I had built up enough of a lead, that even skipping those two days left me more than 7,000 words ahead of NaNo par.

Yesterday, I got in just over 1,000 words, but I wasn’t too happy with what I was writing. I had meant to come back for another session, but I put it off, in part because I wasn’t sure what to write next. So I did something I’d done earlier. I wrote out a list of 15 scenes that would describe a key part of the story to which I have been building up so far, what takes place during a year-long space flight to another star. This list somehow galvanized me.

I began to tackle the list today. I wrote 2-1/2 of the 15 scenes and that gave me a total of over 4,800 words in a single day! This is far more than I have written any other day of NaNo and it felt so good. Not only did it push me beyond the 50,000 word mark, but it also renewed my interest in the story just when it was waning a bit. I am now eager to complete these 15 scenes and then list out another 15 and work on those.

Despite having "won" the NaNoWriMo challenge, my own personal challenge is not yet complete. I set out to write a novel, not just 50,000 words. As I estimate, this novel will be around 90,000 words, which means I still have 40,000 words to go. I will press on each day as if I were continuing on with NaNoWriMo. Given my present pace of 2,091 words/day, I should hit 62,700 words by the time NaNoWriMo comes to a close. And I should hit the 90,000 word mark sometime in mid-December. Maybe sooner since the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is about to start and I may have a little more time to squeeze in some extra writing.

For now, I’m taking the rest of the night off and basking in the personal satisfaction of knowing that I completed NaNoWriMo. I know that this doesn’t mean much to a lot of people, but it means a lot to me and it feels great!

NaNoWriMo Day 20

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 33,340 words
Personal par: 2,000 words/day
Personal total: 44,383 words

Day 20 means that we are 2/3rds of the way through the NaNoWriMo challenge! Par is 33,340 words and after adding 2,041 words this morning, I have reached 44,383 words, more than 11,000 words ahead of NaNo par!

I was up early again, at last, not 5 am, but 6 am, and wrote from 6-8 am. It wasn’t the easiest of mornings. I finished what I started yesterday and the first 900 words or so went very quickly (I think I wrote the first 900 words of the day in about 35 minutes or so). After that, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I started on a section of the story that I’d left off last week, did a little bit of writing on that section, but wasn’t quite sure where the scene was going. So I moved onto another scene at the leading edge of the story, and although that scene moved better, I found that I was checking my word count every 5 minutes or so, which is never a good sign.

Nevertheless, I got in my 2,000 words, passed the 44K-word mark, and I now have less than 6,000 words to "win" the challenge: Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, as planned. We’ve got guests coming into town this weekend, and so I really need to make sure I get the writing done early in the day so that I keep pace. Still, despite being sick most of the week, I still managed a total of nearly 15,000 words since last Friday. I’m very pleased with that.

NaNoWriMo Day 19

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 31,667 words
Personal par: 2,000 words/day
Personal total: 42,342 words

Big day today for writing! I passed the 40,000 word mark, but even more than that, I had my single best word-count day yet, totaling 3,126 words on the day. Still sick, I slept in again, so my writing was broken up into two sessions. I wrote around 1,800 words at lunch, and another 1,300 words or so this evening. My total now stands at 42,342 words and I have less than 8,000 words to go to "win" the NaNo challenge. It also means that in the next day or so, I’ll pass the 45,000 word mark which is about the halfway point for the total expected length of the novel.

Today I focused on two very different scenes. Early in the day, I worked on a short scene that implied a relationship was showing signs of fraying, and foreshadowing dark things to come. But the bulk of the day, was a long scene that described the birth of an unexpected relationship, love where love might not otherwise be found. It is almost a self-contained short story that fits neatly within the story line of the novel itself, and while I know it will need a significant amount of work in the next draft, I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve done there. And it’s not done yet. I think there’s probably another thousand words of the story yet to tell and I will get to that tomorrow.

I was worried a bit that, as I near the halfway point of the novel, there wouldn’t be much left to tell, but as it turns out, some of the most exciting parts of the story are just beginning to unfold. I am no longer concerned that 90,000 words will be too much. It will be reigning the story in that will be the challenge.

My current pace is 2,228 words/day, more than 10% above my personal goal, and well above NaNoWriMo par. For 19 days in a row, I’ve averaged more than 2,000 words each day. I’ve never come close to that before and it feels really good. Today, I find myself more than 10,000 words ahead of NaNo par, which translates into nearly a week ahead of schedule. And based on my current pace, I will hit the 50,000 word mark sometime on November 23, as planned. That’s Monday and it’s right around the corner. I can hardly believe it!

NaNoWriMo Day 18

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 30,000 words
Personal par: 2,000 words/day
Personal total: 39,216 words

Once again, wasn’t up at 5 am, thanks to this awful cold I’ve got. But I did go into work today and my plan was to write for an hour at lunch, and an hour after putting Zach to bed this evening. So much for plans (this is why 5-7am is so perfect: nothing interferes). My cold got worse throughout the day and the guilting looks of my coworkers forced me home early. So after getting some rest, I managed to squeeze in today’s session between 3-5 pm.

And a pretty good session it was. Despite being sick, I wrote 2,468 words, all one scene, and I think it is the single longest scene I have written thus far. (As a short story writer, I go for the shorter scenes wherever possible, and I enjoy reading books with shorter scenes because they feel to me to speed up the pace of the story.) It was also a fun scene to write. It wasn’t quite what I had planned to write today, but I needed to start with something that I knew would get me going and continue to move the story forward in an interesting way. To that extent, I think it worked.

I finally needed to stop, though, despite wanted to push through to the 40,000 word mark. With the cold, I just don’t have the energy. Non-writers don’t always realize just how much energy two hours of writing takes (mostly mental effort), but imagine trying to go for a 3 mile run when you are under the weather. You might be able to do it, but I doubt your time would be as good as when you are healthy.

When I finished today, my total word count reached 39,216, which means that tomorrow I will pass the 40,000 word mark (and possible see myself to around 42,000 words). That means only 8- or 9,000 words left to win the NaNoWriMo challenge. All of the sudden, 8,000 words does not seem like much when you’ve got 40,000 under your belt in 18 days. And so, despite not getting up at 5 am this week, I’m pretty happy that I’ve still managed to get the writing in, and despite a few tough days, I’m still moving forward.

More tomorrow!

NaNoWriMo Day 17

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 28,339 words
Personal par: 2,000 words/day
Personal total: 36,748 words

Despite being sick today (ran a slight fever last night and this morning) I managed to get 2,037 words done today, and I was pretty happy with the overall direction I’d taken. Today I began to shift where things were going by establishing more of rationale for the novel and the story line and in doing so, I think I’ve created an even better hook with which to pull in the reader. I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t get more writing done today. I stayed home from work, not wanting to pass along whatever it is I have to my coworkers, and I figured I could write all morning. But I’m sick enough where that simply wasn’t possible. So I wrote for almost 2 hours this morning, slept for a while, and then wrote for another 45 minutes this afternoon.

I’ve got about 3,300 words to go before I hit the 40,000 word mark, and my present pace puts me there sometime Thursday morning, unless I can squeeze any more writing in today. Despite yesterday’s low wordage, I’m still well ahead of par (more than 5 days and 8,400 words ahead) and it still looks like I will hit the 50,000 word mark around the 23rd. 45,000 words is my next big personal milestone. That’s the halfway point for the overall novel and I’ll likely hit that by the end of the weekend.

NaNoWriMo Day 16

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 26,667 words
Personal par: 2,000 words/day
Personal total: 34,711 words

Not an auspicious start to the second half of NaNo for me. I didn’t get up at 5 am, as I’d planned and instead slept until 7 am. While I didn’t know it, I was sick, but I’m trying not to use that as an excuse. Part of the problem is that I’ve written myself into a place that isn’t working for me. Nevertheless, I did write from noon to 1 pm today, getting in 1,099 words and bringing my total so far to 34,711, some 8,000 words above par.

My brain worked overtime this afternoon, trying to figure out what was wrong with where I was going in the story. I knew that it was probably a lack of motivation for the action that is taking place, but I wasn’t sure how to get it back. I planned to get in some more writing this evening, but instead, I brainstormed, and after a couple of pages of notes, I think I know how to fix everything. It means changing some stuff, particularly the early part of the story. But it adds a whole new element to the story, adds the motivation earlier and more than anything else, has given me a renewed eagerness to plow forward.

So, assuming that I’m feeling good enough (and possibly even if not) I plan on being up first thing tomorrow morning to start reigning in the story, and reshaping it to where I want it to go. Not rewriting, because I can still use most of what I’ve written, simply adding and reshaping. I’m excited to get started on it. So despite this being the first day that I didn’t make the NaNo word count for the day, I hope I will more than make up for it over the next couple of days. Onward! Forward! Here we go!

NaNoWriMo Day 15 (first half complete!)

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 25,000 words
Personal par: 2,000 words/day
Personal total: 33,612 words

This was another tough morning of writing. It started out slowly and I struggled through the scenes, but I knew where they were going better than yesterday and ultimately I think it will turn out good. So despite struggling, I feel pretty good about things. The characters continue to come alive an new facets of them are surprising me from time-to-time. We still have friends in town and I slept in a little late (like last Sunday), but I wrote from 7:30 to 9:30 this morning and managed to knock of 2,062 words during that time.

NaNoWriMo is 30 days long and that means that after 15 days, I have made it halfway through the challenge. Par at this point is 25,000 words. When I finished today, I had 33,612 words. That’s 8,612 words ahead of par, and puts me more than 5 days ahead of schedule. I could write nothing for 5 days and still be on track to hit 50,000 words by November 30. Of course, I plan to continue at my present pace, which would put me at 50,000 words on November 23, a week from Monday. It would put me at 67,224 words by November 30 which is 3/4ths of the way done with the entire 90,000 word novel.

Despite some struggles over the last couple of days, I am happy with my overall progress. I know that there are plenty of improvements to be made, continuity issues to fix, characters problems to hash out, but that can all be worked out in the second draft. For now, my goal is to complete the challenge and then the novel, and at the halfway point, things are looking really good

NaNoWriMo Day 14

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 23,338 words
Personal par: 2,000 words/day
Personal total: 31,518 words

Today started out to be one of those days when it seemed like the words wouldn’t come. I knew what scene I wanted to start with, but I couldn’t get more than 150 words before I stalled. Rather than panic, I moved to a different scene, which actually moved pretty well, and helped establish a new (and hopefully interesting) dynamic for that part of the story. By the end of the session, though I struggled, I managed to complete 2,078 words.

So I officially passed the 30,000 word mark today, not quite halfway through NaNoWriMo. Despite the struggles, today was a success because we have friends in town (strausmouse and rmstraus) and I was up early anyway to get the writing done before we got started today.

Tomorrow will mark the end of the first half of NaNoWriMo. I’m already more than halfway through the word count. It’s possible that I’ll be even further ahead tomorrow.

NaNoWriMo Day 13

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 21,667 words
Personal par: 2,000 words/day
Personal total: 29,472 words

It was a rough night last night (Zach was grumpy) and so for the first time since NaNo started, I didn’t get up at 5 am to write this morning.  I felt too tired.  Of course, later I regretted it.  I like my early morning writing, it’s quiet, I feel unrushed and I’ve got nothing else pressing at 5 am. And although I managed to make up the time throughout the day, I decided that if at all possible, I’d keep to my schedule regardless of how tired I felt in the future.

Despite the altered schedule, I think today was a good writing day on a number of counts:

  1. It showed that I was capable of adapting despite an interruption to my schedule.  Even though I’m well ahead of schedule, I didn’t slack even though I had the opportunity to do so.
  2. I kept up with my personal par, despite being off-kilter today.  I managed to write a total of 2,415 words in 2 hour-long session, the first from noon to 1 pm, the second from 5-6 pm.
  3. I am beginning to notice something interesting about the novel itself:

I’ve often wondered how people do it:  how do you write an 80-, 90-, 100-thousand word novel?  How do you fill in all of the details, keep the characters and events straight, and even provide enough details on the characters without growing bored with them? Approaching the 30,000 word mark, I think I’m beginning to see how it’s done.

First, I’ve noticed that, at least for me, the characters are really beginning to come to life.  They feel real, they have real dreams and ambitions, real problems to deal with.  I think of them not as characters that I’ve created but as people out in the real world.  They are interesting and there is plenty to write about them, and plenty more still to learn about them.

Second, it’s taken me 13 days to hit 30,000 words.  In the past, that would have seemed nearly impossible to me.  But looking back on the 13 days, it really wasn’t that hard.  I had some obstacles to overcome early on, but I continued to write consistently every day, hitting at least 2,000 words (with one exception) and after exceeding that mark.  Now that I’ve got 30,000 words nearly completed, and have a list of crucial scenes for the remainder of the novel, writing another 60,000 words does not seem all that daunting.  Knowing that in another 13 days, I’ll hit the 60,000 word mark seems very reasonable, and I’m excited about what will happen in the story between now and then.

Lastly, I’ve learned not to worry too much about the quality of what I am writing at this point.  There are days when it seems like crap, and I press on; other days when I surprise myself with how easy it comes and how good it seems.  Over all, it’ll end up somewhere in the middle, but it’s only a first draft.  They key is getting it all on paper, and then (and only then) worrying about going back through it and cleaning it up. Even if the final result differs dramatically from the first cut, the first cut–worrying about the story more than the writing–has been crucial for me in getting this far.

Tomorrow will be the two week mark, and I expect to be somewhere around 32,000 words; that 16,000 words a week, which for me is truly remarkable.  Sunday is the halfway point and I should be somewhere around 35,000 words, more than 10,000 words ahead of schedule. Today I added to my list of scenes and my character timeline and they now occupy the blank wall in front of my desk.  I’ve got plenty of writing to keep me busy and I really do think I’ll hit 90,000 words.  What a great feeling that will be!

NaNoWriMo Day 12

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 20,000 words
Personal par: 2,788 words/day
Personal total: 27,025 words

A couple of milestones this morning:

  1. This morning was my most productive yet.  I managed to write 2,788 words in just under 2 hours, and I think if I’d started right at 5 am and stopped at 7 am (as opposed to 5:10 am – 6:56 am) I might have been able to hit 3,000 words.  Regardless, nearly 2,800 words in two hours is impressive for me.  And they were pretty good words, too.
  2. From the NaNoWriMo standpoint, I am now more than halfway to the goal of 50,000 words, even though I’m only a little more than a third of the way through the duration of the challenge.  At this rate, there’s a small chance I’ll hit 30,000 words tomorrow–certainly surpass it Saturday morning at the latest.

I wrote two full scenes this morning, the first of which, at 1,500 words, was a pretty exciting action scene.  By the time the first hour of write was complete, I’d finished that scene, which put my initial pace somewhere around 3,000 words in two hours.  It wasn’t the best scene that I’ve written (I still think Sunday’s scene deserves that credit) but it was a good one, and one that I was particularly satisfied with after the tough going yesterday.  There are still some technical issues that need to be worked out in the scene, but otherwise, I’m pretty happy with it.  The other scenes were good as well, and I got started on the third scene just before I wrapped up this morning, so I have a good jumping-off point for tomorrow.

Yesterday and today were a world of difference.  The writing came much more easily this morning.  I started a little sooner after I got up, but I don’t know if that makes much of a difference.  I’d try to develop an exciting scene and went into the writing with those thoughts in mind.  I think that helped a lot.

I realize now that I am working on scenes that will make up the last 2/3rds of the book.  I’ve wrote a few scenes early on that fall into the first third, but I may not get back to completing that section until the last two thirds are completed.

I’m more than 7,000 words ahead of NaNo par; that’s over 4 days!  If I can keep up my present rate, I’ll hit 50,000 words somewhere around November 23, a few days before Thanksgiving.  By November 30, I’ll be at 67,530 words, and I will complete the 90,000 word first draft by December 10, which happens to be my Dad’s birthday.

NaNoWriMo Day 11

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 18,337 words
Personal par: 2,015 words/day
Personal total: 24,269 words

It’s official: Far Away Places is the longest single piece of fiction I have ever written.  That happened sometime early this morning when I passed through the 23,000 word mark.  I finished the morning with 2,015 words for the day, 24,269 total after 11 days.  Despite the fact that I made my goal once again, and that I beat my length record, it wasn’t a particularly good morning.

When I left off yesterday, I felt as if I was in the midst of an exciting scene, and I continue that scene and two others this morning.  But I didn’t feel the same kind of excitement or life that I felt yesterday.  The expected is taking place, not the unexpected and I ‘m afraid that they won’t hold a reader’s interest.  I am trying to convey a sense of wonder in the scenes, but it’s just not coming across.  I reminded myself that this is first draft and I’ll have plenty of time to spruce things up the second time around; the idea here is just to get it down on paper–and I pressed on.  But I was still left with a feeling that while I made my goal today, the writing wasn’t very good.

Which is why it’s good that NaNo is 30 days and not 1 day.  There will be a few bad days.  I’ll just try to learn from them, and press for a better day tomorrow.

NaNoWriMo Day 10

NaNoWriMo par: 1,667 words/day
NaNoWriMo total: 16,667 words
Personal par: 2,000 words/day
Personal total: 22,250 words

One third of the way through the NaNoWriMo challenge.  Par is 16,667 words out of 50,000, but after another good session this morning, I stand at 22,250 words.  I added 2,302 words this morning, covering about 2-1/3 scenes of the story.  Late yesterday, I listed out the important scenes that I imagine account for something like 80% of the overall story and this morning I worked off that list.  What a difference it makes!  I glance at the list the night before, choose a couple of scenes that I want to tackle the next day, and then roll them around in my head as I fall asleep.  This morning, I got started and knew exactly where I wanted to go.  At my current pace, I’m on track to produce 66,700 words at the end of 30 days.

I really enjoy the early morning writing.  I think 2 hours is the perfect amount of time, and forcing myself to write 2,000 words in that two hours is the perfect pace for me.  Despite all of the writing I’ve done over the years, I don’t think I’ve ever had 10 consecutive days of 2,000+ words.  I like the consistency of it.  It is comfortable.  And it means that I can (potentially) be a lot more productive.  When I finish the first draft of the novel, I plan to set it aside for a while, let it sit so I can get some distance from it.  But I plan to continue this habit that I am developing.  At 2,000 words a day, I can be producing a draft of a short story or short novelette once a week.  Of course, there are revisions to account for, but I imagine I could write on the order of 20 stories a year at this pace, which would be unprecedented for me.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have 20 stories in circulation, making rounds at the various magazines.

Listing out the scenes has been key for me.  These may not ultimately be the right scenes, but they keep me writing, and that is what is critical for NaNo.  At this point, I am nearly 5,600 words ahead of par.  That’s 3-1/3 days.  Having the comfort zone provides a cushion that makes the writing less stressful.  I don’t feel behind, and certainly, a day or two where things don’t work out as well as they have been will not hurt me.  But now that I have the list of scenes, I don’t foresee the kinds of problems I had toward the end of the first week.

I thought I might hit 23,000 words today and if I had stretched myself, I might have.  But I stopped in the midst of an exciting scene, hoping that it would allow me to start up quickly tomorrow.  It means that when I hit 23,000 words sometime early tomorrow, Far Away Places will officially be the longest single piece of fiction I’ve ever written.  And each day that record will continue to grow.

If the novel grows to around 90,000 words, as I have planned, then I expect to finish the first draft sometime around December 15.  That I’m actually writing more than 2,000 words/day may push the date up a little, but I think it’s important to have this secondary target in mind so that when NaNoWriMo concludes on November 30, I don’t lose my focus.