Camp NaNoWriMo Winner!

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I’ll do a proper monthly round-up for July on Monday, but last night I hit the 25k mark (my goal) and this morning I validated it, and I have¬†officially won Camp NaNoWriMo ūüėÄ

Now, how¬†many more words can I achieve between now and tomorrow night? Hmm…

NaNoWriMo – how did you do?

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So, I guess this graphic is a bit of a give away about how I did! I finished, with a final word count of 53,776 words for the month. I didn’t expect to get this far. Remember back when I wasn’t sure that I could actually do it this year?

Everyone was right, I could do it. I didn’t do it in the traditional way–I tackled two projects, because otherwise there was no way that I could do this. On November 1st, I had around 2k of a novelette that needed to be finished and a very vague novel outline.

The novelette ended up being 14.5k¬†in its first draft.¬†One of my jobs¬†this month is getting it edited, beta’d, and edited again in¬†time for the submission call it’s intended for, which closes at the end of the year. At this point, I’m feeling really happy with the final two thirds of it and hoping that¬†the heaviest lifting on the editing side is in the opening third. I guess that I’ll find out at lunch today when I open the file for its first proper read through if I’m right!

I got ~41k on the novel, which I’m estimating is around half¬†of what the final word count will be. It’s surprised me, frustrated me, and delighted me by turns.¬†I’m working up to the big midpoint reveal,¬†which is going to switch a few things around, bring the romance plot into the foreground, and¬†hopefully¬†be a ton of fun to write. Or, you know, I could be tearing my hair out over it later this month.¬†Hopefully it’s the former.

But I’ve got to get this novelette out of the door first and take care of a couple of other projects, so the novel is not going to get as much attention from me for a couple of weeks.¬†Sometimes, that’s been a disaster (my poor steampunk novel is still languishing after being set aside in May), but¬†last year’s NaNo novel had the same break, and¬†I came back to it fresher and happier and got it finished in early January.

(Let’s all forget about the part where it’s still languishing in¬†edits and the source of much uncertainty from me, okay?)

NaNo wasn’t just about the word count for me, although beating the¬†50k¬†again feels pretty good. I decided to do it again to get myself out of a rut where I was picking at things without making real progress, and on that front, it succeeded beyond my expectations. I genuinely wasn’t expecting to do this much. I would have been happy with a completed draft of the novelette and¬†the opening couple of chapters of the novel. When I got started, though, my competitive streak kicked in, I got absorbed by my stories, and suddenly I was racing. I surpassed my own expectations, got some work done that really needed to be done, and that’s¬†why I’m feeling quite proud of myself this morning.

So, how was NaNo for you? Did you hit your goals, even if¬†you didn’t make it to 50k?

NaNoWriMo Day 20

So, it’s day 20. A third of the way through. And I still haven’t fallen behind, which honestly astounds me.

That’s my total without including today’s words. Yup, I’m ahead. I didn’t expect that.

The novel is also becoming a little unexpected. It’s supposed to be a¬†paranormal romance. Gay magical spies and all that. Apparently it wants to¬†lean slightly more into the horror side of the paranormal than I was expecting. Editing this and figuring out¬†where to send it and how to pitch it could be interesting.

“Excuse me, publisher person. Would you like a¬†paranormal m/m romance with a bit of a horror flavour?”

Hmm.

So, what has surprised you about your NaNoWriMo experience so far?

NaNoWriMo Day 13

Unlucky for some, but day 13 of NaNo has dawned and I still haven’t fallen behind, despite a rotten cold that tried to flatten me for several days.

This is my third time on NaNo, and¬†what I’ve found helps most is building a bit of a cushion to absorb the bad days. I’m not talking about writing 5k words a day for a week or anything extreme, but my goal is usually 1800 words on a normal day (and over 2k on a¬†really good weekend day), which quickly builds into a day or two of cushion. That way, when I have a bad day where I barely manage 500 words, I don’t fall behind. I had a couple of those days over the last weekend, but last night I was still 1500 words ahead of par thanks to those extra couple of hundred words on¬†regular days. This weekend, I’m hoping to get myself even further ahead.

It also means there’s a bit of grace at the end if it turns out that NaNo’s validating script¬†has a slightly way of counting from Scrivener or Word. My first year of NaNo was…tight on word count, despite my word processor thinking I had over 52k.

I’m feeling happy with my progress in other ways. The novelette that was my project to finish is now done, and I feel happy with it. I know that I’ll be doing some restructuring and rewriting of the first half when I go through the draft, but it doesn’t need junking and starting from scratch. It will be editing the early parts to make sure the tone matches the second half, and making sure the character arcs are consistent.¬†As always happens, I learned things about the characters as I wrote, and I need to make sure that¬†everything¬†ties together.

Novelette length seems to suit my¬†writing instincts better than¬†short stories, if I’m attempting to write shorter fiction. I can write a flash story. I can write a novelette.¬†It’s the word count in between that I struggle with.¬†I blame that on coming to short stories after years of¬†writing longer works.

Speaking of longer works…

With the novelette done,¬†I’ve been able to start the first draft of a novel that’s been bugging me for ages. It’s evolved a lot from the first ideas I had a year ago: my original thoughts were set firmly in the real world, writing an m/m James Bond-esque thing,¬†but stories without a speculative¬†fiction side are really not my bag.

So I kept the intelligence agency setting, but I created a new one. A secret branch of the intelligence service that is properly secret with a base under London and so forth.¬†I added magic. I kept the m/m romance, but it’s evolved into a different plot arc¬†from what I had. No James Bond analogue in sight. And I added a¬†supernatural plague, because who doesn’t like killer viruses?

I’ve given myself permission to do whatever the hell I want in this draft. Overwrite, over-describe, go¬†to town on angst and suppressed emotions and horrific zombie-like magical diseases.¬†And I’m having a¬†blast on it. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to stop thinking about deeper meanings and all that shit, and just write¬†everything that feels¬†right for the story.

I can edit out the excess later. This is definitely a vomit draft and it’s enormous fun. My viewpoint MC has just met the other MC. It’s¬†hate at first sight and that’s ridiculously compelling to write.

So, how is NaNo going for everyone else? Ahead? Behind? Having fun? Reached the sticky middle where everything is terrible and you’re the worst writer ever? Throwing out all the rules and going to town on something bizarre and wild?

NaNoWriMo day 4 (already? How is time going so fast?)

Yup, it’s day four of NaNoWriMo. And I haven’t got behind on the word count goals yet!

I am trying to be okay with the possibility that it might happen, but I’m currently managing¬†to write a little over the daily goal so that I¬†build up a cushion against future bad days.

They happen. It’s pointless to pretend they don’t.

The novelette that¬†I’m trying to get finished as the first part of the challenge is finally running smoothly today.¬†Making myself sit down and write it (instead of being tempted away by shiny things) has actually been really helpful, and even if I don’t get anything else done, at least NaNo will have forced me to get out a first draft.¬†A lot of it is bad, but that’s what editing is for.

Today, I hit the start of the end, and what I wrote felt good for the first time. Big action scenes¬†are kind of my thing, particularly if there’s some emotional punch to them, too, and this one is going to be fun. Maybe that’s why I keep blowing stuff up in novels when I get stuck: the action scenes get my writing¬†mojo renewed. At this rate, I should finish the draft on Friday, and then I can get started on the other project: the novel about gay magical spies kicking arse (and each other, and then falling for each others in the classic rivals to lovers trope).¬†I need a shorter working title than that ūüôā

So far, my schedule involves writing for¬†twenty minutes at lunch and then¬†for however long after work it takes to get where I want to be. I write on an iPad with a keyboard, partially because it allows me to write wherever I am, and partially because I can easily shut off the Internet and write without distraction.¬†Whenever¬†I have the desktop on, I copy what I’ve written over to Scrivener. It’s much easier to organise everything in Scriv, but there isn’t an iPad app (yet) so I churn out raw words in MS Word.

So, that’s my NaNo so far. How are you doing?

To NaNoWriMo or not? It’s complicated

Everyone know what NaNoWriMo is, don’t they? It’s National Novel Writing Month, held in November every year.¬†The goal is to write a novel in a month. More accurately, it’s to write 50,000 words in a month, which should be a healthy start–two thirds-ish–on the average modern adult novel.

I’ve done NaNo for the last two¬†years, and I really enjoyed the experience both times. You’re part of a community all madly fighting to get words down. Writing can be such a solitary experience at times that the community aspect of NaNo is huge boost.

I’ve done it both the¬†right way (one¬†project starting at the beginning last year) and the rebel way (multiple shorter projects adding up the word count). Last year’s novel was finished in January, but the 65k I somehow produced during NaNo¬†got me most of the way there.

(My epic procrastination over edits since then are a whole different story. It will go out on query early next year, I promise.)

This year, it’s complicated. I’m in the middle of writing a story for a submission call that closes at the end of the year. It’s probably a novelette. I want to have a full first draft done early, so¬†that I can set it aside for a couple of¬†weeks before I edit, rather than trying to rush everything at the end.

If I do NaNo¬†within the guidelines, I’d have to put the story aside on Sunday and start madly wording. I’m pretty sure that I’ll never made the submission¬†deadline with something I feel¬†good about if I do that.

Another option is to¬†finish the story and then start writing on the novel, and try to cram 50k into what’s left of the month. I’ve got a thing¬†that I can dive into when I get there¬†that’s been itching under my skin for ages

Except it would mean keeping the kind of work-level up that I did last year for 65k in one month, and I’m not sure that I have the spoons to do that. No, wait, I definitely don’t have the spoons. My spoon drawer is smaller than it was last year.

A¬†third option is to do it rebel-style again.¬†Finish the story and start the novel, trying to make sure¬†the total new words across both¬†are over 50k by the end of the month. It’s an option, but I’m¬†worried that my spoon drawer is too small for that, and I wouldn’t feel good to see the fail mark¬†that¬†would probably result.

The last option is to do what I do every month: set a goal for the month and work towards it. My writing group is NaNo-ing, so¬†we’d all be working together, and¬†there’s no reason I can’t go to writing sessions and so forth. But would I have as much fun if my goal isn’t as high as theirs?

Decisions. I’m still hesitating over the “create novel” button on the NaNo site, unable to commit to any option.

Is anyone else having a to do it or not dilemma?