You may have noticed the National Novel Writing Month banner in the sidebar this month. I’ve been participating in it, starting from literally no idea what the heck I was going to write on November 2 and working towards 50,000 words by the end of the month.
It turned into a fantasy novel with elements of time travel, though over time I moved away from the initial experiments in non-linear storytelling.
This past Sunday afternoon, I finished the story at about 47,000 words. So I’ve been going back, looking at areas that needed more development (and there were some significant character changes that I had glossed over initially) to fill in the remaining 3K.
About 15 minutes before tonight’s Veronica Mars, I finished a scene and checked my word count. It was 50,145. On Sunday, I had compared the OpenOffice and NaNoWriMo word counters and calculated the difference at 50K would be 144 words. I figured, what the heck. I saved it to a text file, scrambled the letters as directed, and uploaded it.
50,000 exactly. I have officially completed National Novel Writing Month.
I have no illusions as to the quality of those 50,000 words. But it’s only a first draft. I’ve never written a first draft of a novel before, so that’s pretty cool!
The main things I’ve learned are:
- I actually can sit down with no idea of what I’m going to write and come up with characters and a story.
- Discussing writing issues with another writer, even in vague terms, can help solve problems and crystallize ideas.
- When I really get going, I can write about 800 words an hour (at least on the computer).
- I can actually sustain a story over ~110 pages.
- I need to do a lot more research on medieval Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and snow.
- Writing follows a bell curve: it’s hard to come up with ideas when you’re starting out, gets easier in the middle as you start running with things, and when you get near the end, it’s hard to pull everything together and wrap it up. (added)
Next step: sleep. After that, start revising, and figure out how soon I’m willing to let beta readers see it.
I’ve been making regular posts on the Nano writing process over in my LiveJournal, if anyone’s interested. (And if no-one’s interested, they’re still there.)
Congrats. That’s really something.
Usually, deadlines dampen my creative inertia, but I can see the value of having them, too.
I know what you mean about deadlines. They tend to freeze me up as well, until I get right up to the edge, panic, and start slamming something out.
Two things really helped with Nano. The first is that the goal was solely based on volume. That freed me from the “Am I doing this right?’ problem.
The second was a table that tracks daily word count, total word count, a couple of averages, and most importantly, how many words/day are needed to finish on time, based on the current total. The daily and total word count have a red or green background depending on whether they meet those goals. Eventually, since I realized I’d need to finish early, I started doing my own calculations, but for most of the month, that table was a big help in setting daily goals.
Ahh. Good points. And, as you say, if one should decide to polish up that first draft, it’ll still be there after the deadline passes.
Btw, this line made me laugh out-loud: “I know what you mean about deadlines. They tend to freeze me up as well, until I get right up to the edge, panic, and start slamming something out.”