I’ve now spent a full week with my new draft. Book 2 in my Peridot Shift series.
To get started, the first thing I did was set up my Tuesday blog posts for the entire month (including this one). I decided on what topics I wanted to cover, and made a bullet list to keep that in mind each week that I stop in to bang out a new post. I calculated ahead of time how much time I anticipated writing so if all goes well I don’t have to do as much math. I’m hoping it only takes about ten minutes to write each post, so as not to steal time away from my NaNoWriMo progress or my work day.
Things to celebrate
- Overwhelming success through consistency! I set my total goal for the month as 100,000 words, which required 3,333 words per day. At the time of drafting this post, my average word count is 3,928 and NaNoWriMo predicts I will reach 50,000 words by November 13. By extension, I should expect to hit my novel target of 100K on November 26.
- Increased typing speed! In writing sessions throughout the rest of the year, I found my average WPH to be around 1,000. By avoiding the backspace/delete key, and by following my outline as though it is scripture, I’ve averaged 1,264 words per hour, peaking at over 3,000 words per hour in some sessions (that Starbucks lunch visit really spoiled the average).
- Not just a whole novel, but some rewrites. If I maintain my current pace of 4,185 words per day, I can expect to bank 125K words for the entire month. That gives me the chance to revisit a couple scenes I know need help, or rest up and take a week off after I finish up around day 23. This will all depend on where I find myself at 100K words. I’ll finish the story in November and see where the word count is, then decide where to go from there. But right now I’m around 25K and right about the end of the opening hook, so we’re right on schedule. Those last 25K words I apparently have time for will do nicely if I decide to re-approach some of the earlier scenes that I practically slept through.
- Near-zero procrastination. This is definitely unexpected, to be filed under #nanosurprises. By writing fast, and writing every morning (getting up at my usual time for the Asimov Hour), I began my day well ahead of my word quota, and had the rest of the day to spend with family and friends, with no stress to produce, produce, produce. And more over, no stress to play catch-up. I did, admittedly, procrastinate a bit, but did not leave my writing session without finally putting my nose to the grind stone and hitting some significant word count mark each day.
- I smell a Re-Write. Despite producing all the words I planned to, the story itself is falling far short of magical. It took me about five days to get to the point where what I wrote started to feel like a living thing, rather than a cold dead corpse absent of compelling words. Of course I re-wrote FLOTSAM over and over for twelve years before writing the “good” draft, so it should hardly be surprising that I’m not happy with the first draft of its sequel.
- I might have gotten even further. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth. I keep wondering what would have happened if I tried to write every waking minute for the first few days? If I’d managed to stay off Twitter, Facebook, and Red Bubble that one morning? More than likely the answer is “burn out” but I am the type of personality that always considers success as a failure to reach my full potential. Cry me a river, huh?
- We had several house guests over the course of the week, and I am happy to say that, though I anticipated this to be a problem, by making sure I was ahead of the mark the whole time, there was no problem at all. Even on days when I expected to fall behind my personal quotas, I found time to write amidst the activity, and kept afloat.
- Fatigue. Fatigue comes in all forms. To avoid excess stress, I decided to go all-decaf with my coffee for the month. Caffeine can spike, pulling its friend cortisol along for the ride. I figured NaNo would be stressful enough without that. So for the first couple of days I really drooped in my AM sessions, between the sudden disappearance of my drug of choice, and being run down from a lot of Halloween-oriented activity. Sleep is good, but not screwing up your system by shocking it with major changes is also cool. When I went back to my usual levels of caffeine on Day Three, writing at 5:30am got much easier. I can always try for #DecafDecember.
The strangest thing I have to report is I am suspicious a truth may be emerging. The success of NaNoWriMo may have nothing to do with NaNoWriMo at all. In other words, Dumbo doesn’t actually need the feather; the magic was in him. (That may or may not be the first Stephen King quote to make it to the blog). My editor will be rather vindicated to hear me admit this.
My success, the 4,000+ words per day, was set in motion not by the flurry of the NaNoWriMo season, but by the consistency I set in motion with my Asimov Hour daily journal back in May. The foundation of these 27K words so far was set before I ever wrote the outline of Book 2.
Which goes along with how I feel about NaNoWriMo in general. To put it in another context: there are a lot of people who wait all year round to put out their Halloween decorations, and find togetherness in Halloween parties and events that span maybe a month or two starting when the PSL cups hit the counter. But for some of us, those Halloween decorations are hanging up year round, and there’s no excuse needed to get our spooky on. What I rely on NaNoWriMo for is the one or two people per million that will be sparked by 30 days of good habits to continue their writing practice year round.
If I could offer any advice for NaNoWriMo, it’s to go ahead and make whatever change is needed in your life to strive for NaNoWriYea. Hell, let’s do NaNoWriFUCKYea.
Also: have an outline, and know that the action beats are going to work for your story. At no time have I had to sit and ponder what comes next. That has definitely helped to put me in motion every time I sit down.
Punching the Time Card
- Tue 11/1: Asimov Hour (1.5 hr) for 2,552 words (1,701 WPH); Doctor’s Office waiting room (15 min) for 480 words (1,920 WPH); Community Write-In (2 hr) for 3,738 words (2,109 WPH). 11/1 total: 6,770 (of 3,333 goal). Earned badges for 1,667 words, 5,000 words.
- Weds 11/2: Asimov Hour (1.5 hr) for 2,757 words (1,838 WPH); Between Lunch Starbucks session and Evening session at Doctor’s Office waiting room (60 min total) for 1286 words. 11/2 total: 4,403. November running total: 10,813 (of 6,666 goal). Earned badge for 10,000 words.
- Thurs 11/3: Asimov Hour (54 min) for 1,686 words (1,873 WPH). November running total: 12,499 (of 9,999 goal).
- Fri 11/4: Asimov Hour (1.5 hr) for 2,707 words (1,811 WPH). November running total: 15,206 (of 13,332 goal).
- Sat 11/5: Asimov Hour (1 hr) for 2,015 words; Community Write-In (2.5 hr, 1 hr active) for 3,346 (3,346 WPH). 11/5 total: 5,361. November running total: 20,567 (of 16,665 goal). Earned badge for 5 days tracking word count,
- Sun 11/6: Asimov Hour (2 hr) for 4,543 words (2,271 WPH). November running total: 25,110 (of 19,998 goal). Earned badge for 25,000 words.
- Mon 11/7: Asimov Hour (1 hr) for 2,386 words. November running total: 27,496 (of 23,331 goal).
- I attempted to write at lunch once, but the tables at the coffee shop were full, and I had to sit at the bar, which invited other shop patrons to engage me in conversation. One 45 minute visit was attempted, and I got only 15 minutes of concentrated time. I did not give up on the lunch writing, but due to my schedule last week there was only one opportunity to attempt it. Week 2 will see more attempts (and I’ll try to get there before or after the lunch rush to grab a private table).
The following graphic is my current (live) NaNoWriMo status, just in case you’re on a mobile device and can’t see it in the right hand widget bar.