How I Write (or a NaNoWriMo 2011 Summary)

Just realized that I never gave an final update my NaNoWriMo progress. Here it is:

For the second year I realized that the way I write isn't conducive to putting out as much words as possible in 30 days. When I write a novel, I usually do so with a pretty thorough outline. Even with that, however, I still find that characters and minor plot details evolve as I write. And as the change, I find myself going back to rewrite details earlier in the book so they match up with changes made halfway through.

For example, say I write 1,000 words a day for a week giving me a grand total of 7,000 words at the end of the week. But as I finished up Day 7 of writing, I realize that a character needs to evolve or change to make him or her more interesting or real. As a result, I may spend several days re-reading everything written to date and rewriting 1,000 words a day. So after nine days my "official" word count still remains in the neighborhood of 7,000 words even though I've probably written somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 words. So when trying to write as many words as possible in a certain amount of time, I find myself going back and rewriting stuff before I move forward and create new content.

Anyway, I finished NaNoWriMo with 20,135 "new" words though if you count all the rewriting I did during this time, the actual count is probably three times that number or enough to make me a NaNoWriMo winner--but not in any official sense. On the flip side, the 20,135 words I did write are pretty polished. Just another rewrite should get them up to publishable quality. Now I just have to work at writing the other 80,000 or so words of content. It's something I can do over the next several months--it's just going to take an awful lot of rewriting to get there. :-)

NaNoWriMo 2011 Update Week 1

Since NaNoWriMo hasn't gotten around to adding widgets that I can add to this blog that will show my word count automatically, here's an update as of November 6:

  • Total word count: 6,879
  • Days where I actually wrote something: 4 (out of 6 days)
  • Highest word count total for one day: 3,213 words (today).

I'll update again next Sunday unless NaNoWriMo gets their act together and decides to put out an official widget. :-)

NaNoWriMo Reflections

The stars aligned perfectly so year so I could finally give NaNoWriMo a shot this year. For those who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s basically a goal of writing a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. And though you can see from the above badge, I didn’t make the 50,000 word goal (or my original 80,000 word goal), I actually enjoyed the challenge and consider it a success because it got me writing every day in November and I was able to complete about 40% of a novel that’s been bouncing around in my head for the last couple of years.

And though the month is over I’m still trying to wrap up the first draft of the novel by year’s end. And even though NaNoWriMo’s over, I got Judd and his gang kicking my butt to finish it by then or else there’ll be some sort of hell to pay. Don’t worry, boys, I’m on it!

Now that I’ve given NaNoWriMo a shot, I think it’s a good exercise for anyone who wants to write a book. If anything, it got be back in the habit of writing every day instead of three or so times a week. And now that I’ve got my daily writing time set aside, I think I’ll be able to finish this novel but others are constantly sloshed around in my brain.

The only thing I didn’t like about it was that I felt I had to meet the 50,000 word goal or else I was some sort of failure. The reason I only ended up with just under 36,000 words is that about half way through the month was that the novel, at least way I had outlined, just stopped working. I went back and reread what I penned and realized that I could take some time and rewrite several chapters or I could push another 25,000 words and “win” or I could try to do it right the first time. I opted for the latter knowing that I’d just be wasting my time trying to push out words that had zero chance of being used.

In any event, now that I’m back on the writing bandwagon now it’s time for DeNoWirMo and then 2011NoWriYr. If all goes well, I hope to be able to have another novel ready for a publisher by spring. And that would be a real victory.

Finally Doing National Novel Writing Month

I first heard about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) back in 2002. I thought it was a cool idea to try to write a novel in a month. But since I was in a critical relationship month with Marathon Girl, I told myself I’d do it next year. The next year came and I was in the middle of slogging through the first draft of my memoir. It wasn’t a project I could rush so I pushed it off another year. Every November after it seemed like I was working another writing project that couldn’t be rushed, in the middle of edits with a publisher, or had just finished a novel and was too burned out to start a new project.

This year, however, the wrings stars have aligned. The final manuscript of The Third has been sent to the publisher, the second round of the Dating a Widower guide is just about done, and I have an outline for a novel that I wrote over the summer that’s screaming to be started. In short not only am I ready to write the first draft of a novel in a month, I’m positive I can do it.

The goal, at least for me, isn’t to write a publishable manuscript in 30 days. If I didn’t have a fulltime job, a family, and other responsibilities, I could probably come close to cranking out a publishable manuscript in 30 days. My NaNoWriMo goal is to simply write an approximate 80,000 word first draft. If I could do that, I could probably have an editable manuscript by the end of the year.

For those who want to track my NaNoWriMo progress, I’ll add a widget to my home page and the side bar of this blog November 1. (I’d add them now but NaNoWriMo isn’t going to make any of their widgets available until November 1.)

Finally, if any readers or writing friends are giving NaNoWriMo a shot, leave a comment or email me your handle and I’ll add you to my NaNoWriMo buddy list. If you want to add me, my NaNoWriMo handle is abelkeogh.

Looking forward to a month of intensive writing.