Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Final NaNo Stats

Hi everyone. I'll bet you're tired of hearing about National Novel Writing Month, since several people blogged about it during November. I always like to reflect on what I took away from the experience, so bear with me.

What I learned:
1. Sometimes jumping around out of order helps cut down unnecessary scenes, makes you think harder about how the characters got from Point A to Point C, and lets you avoid writer's block.

2. Having a music playlist going, tailored to the mood and themes of the story, helps keep you in the zone.

3. You really can carve out more time for writing. Why in the world did I think I had less time during the rest of the year? November's a busy month and yet look what I accomplished.

4. Putting the internal editor in the cooler frees your creative flow, lets you experiment and try out angles you wouldn't have otherwise. Knowing that you're constructing a first draft is also freeing because no one else has to see it yet. You can make mistakes, skip over things, not worry about the technical side, and just relax and have fun with telling a story.

5. Those around you have the opportunity to gain more respect for your writing and that you take it seriously.

6. In reality, it's not about the numbers. The numbers and the calendar are the motivators. If you didn't finish the story, keep going into the next month. Hopefully you'll have picked up some good work habits.

7. If what you planned to work on during NaNo isn't the story you think about waking up day 1, don't stress about keeping to your plan. I had planned on working on two new novels. Only one of them made it into the creative process in November, and only after I'd written a completely different story first.

8. I went on a trip of self-discovery, analyzing myself and my writing naturally rather than under the microscope of the internal editor or outside influences. I have a better idea of who my audience will be, learned to accept my writing style, and became disillusioned about many of the things touted online as absolutes. I realized I had wasted time trying to fit some preconceived mold, a mold that doesn't really exist. I'd tweaked, and ripped apart, and overdone previous work which hadn't needed that rough kind of treatment.

I realized that I don't write typical commercial/mainstream fiction. I'm a niche and knowing that lifted so much anxiety, pain, and self-doubt from my shoulders. Then I was able to embrace that knowledge and it fueled my passion for storytelling. No more trying to please everyone or force my story (or myself) to be something we're not.

So what came out of November for me?
1. A completed rough draft at 48,531 words, written in 9 days.
This one surprised me. Once every few years a story idea captures my imagination so well that I have no difficulty in getting it down on paper in record time. But this is rare. I'm not normally this fast.

2. A draft 2/3 completed for another novel, a sequel. The word count is a bit hazy on this one, since I had to incorporate bits and pieces of scenes I'd previously written into it. I spent 8 days on this one, it's currently at 52,172, and most of the words were new material. This novel slowed me down somewhat, as the trilogy it belongs to is layered, complex, and involves multiple POVs and plotlines. It's satisfying to write, but I had to stop and map out the chronology to make sure the nodes of conjunction I had to write would match up correctly.

3. Made headway into a third novel. I spent 4 days on it and the word count comes to 7,196. This one follows the sequel in the trilogy and oddly I spent my writing time on the last third of this story. And it made me cry! I never cry reading or writing books. I didn't realize I was crying at first either. The truly weird part was that the scene I was constructing was actually a happy scene, a huge climax, but uplifting. The other relieving circumstance in mapping out this third book was realizing it could be the last. I don't have to write a fourth! (Originally I had two books which turned out to be too large so I figured I'd have to break them in half to write four.)

How about you?
Did you realize anything about yourself? Make a breakthrough creatively? Reach your word count goals? What did you take away from NaNo this year?



  1. Wow, you've been working hard. Congrats on your accomplishments!

    I too did NaNo this month, and I was able to finish with 51K. That's a lot for me since I'm normally a slow writer who makes too many excuses (No time to write! I have a baby! Etc.) It did help that I enlisted the help of my husband. Also had a babysitter come a couple of times so I could write without interruption from the baby.

    My NaNo WIP still needs about 20K so I'm going to keep my writing hours and pretend it's still November this month. :)

    1. Thanks, Precy. =)

      Congrats to you too on finishing the NaNo word count goal. And best of luck in finishing that last 20K.

  2. What an amazing NaNo!!! You ROCKED those word counts; I'm in awe.

    1. Thanks, SC. It was fun, even if it was technically work.

  3. I haven't done NaNo in several years, but the main thing I took away was that I can write a pile of words (not always good one) in a short amount of time. I have refined that skill, but it took NaNo to open my eyes.

    1. Darke, I'm continually amazed by your output. There's got to be a point where a writer can write quickly and well, right? I'm not there yet, but I noticed my word vomit this year was better than previous NaNo word vomit. =)