On Second Thought…

National Novel Writing Month started yesterday and while I have in the past made attempts at participating, I think it’s time for me to admit, more to myself than anyone else, that NaNoWriMo just isn’t for me. I’ve tried it for 5 years now and never successfully completed it, nor have I even really gotten more than half way through. The reason is simple: I can’t write under those conditions. Once upon a time I could. One summer, I banged out a 300 page “novel” in 30 days. And you’ll never read it, because it reads like something a teenager banged out in 30 days on a second hand word processor.

I like the idea of NaNoWriMo, how it fosters camaraderie and encourages people to take that first step to write. But it’s not for me.

I’ve written 2 books and am 2/3 of the way through a 3rd, and what I’ve learned from the process of writing these books is that I can’t write 50,000 words in a month. Not 50,000 words anyone would want to read, anyway. And while NaNoWriMo is about motivating you to just sit down and write anything, however good it turns out, this is what I’m about at this point in my career as an author. I’m at the stage where I need to produce quality, not quantity.

Now of course, part of that is also producing quality on a regular basis, and through much trial and error, I’ve discovered that at best, I can manage 1000 words on a good day. Simple math will tell you that I’m not getting anywhere near 50K words in a month at that rate. I’m lucky to produce 25K words a month. And I’m OK with that.

At that rate, I can still write a full length novel in 6-8 months, with planning and patience. And really, that’s the stage I’m at right now, learning to use the patience that comes along with the process to craft something worth the time and effort, both of me and my readers.

So, while I applaud NaNoWriMo for encouraging people to write, I shall henceforth do so from a respectable distance, admiringly.

Words, Words, Words

So, the novel. As near as I can figure, after much dithering about with thorny plot issues and restructuring, plus a couple of wasted days in early November, my grand total word count for the end of National Novel Writing Month is:

The problem is that I’m not exactly sure how long the thing is going to run. My previous optimistic estimate of plus or minus 110K was, well, optimistic. 125K may even be a little short of the mark. But! Progress is being made. Slowly but surely. One of these days, I’ll have a finished novel.

Now, as previously noted, I didn’t actually participate in NaNoWriMo this year and didn’t get to use it as a pace car either. My plan still stands to do my own private NaNoWriMo for the month of December. So, keep an eye on that death bar. I suspect it’s stalking me and may try and jump me if I go to sleep.

NaNoWriMo Update

So. yeah. How’s your novel going? Hope you’ve been working on it harder than I have on mine.

I had a little set back, in that i wasted the first ten days of National Novel Writing Month working on a project that didn’t go anywhere and now, the month is half way through and I’m just getting up to speed. So I’m behind by 2 weeks already.


Since I wasn’t officially taking part in NaNoWriMo, just using it as a pace car for the novel in progress, it’s not the end of the game for me. I intend to extend my own personal Novel Writing month into December.

As for where I’m at in said novel, let’s go to word count death bar of doom:

As you can see, I’ve just broken the spine. I’ve revised the total word count down as well — now that the midpoint is in sight, I have a much more lucid estimate of the total length.

With a bit of perseverance and a few extra cups of coffee, I should be able to bring the first draft in by the New Year.

Alright, enough blather. Back to the keyboard!

Countdown to NaNoWriMo

Just a reminder that National Novel Writing Month starts 2 weeks form today.

I alas will not be participating this year, at least officially, as I’m already about half way through a novel and don’t want to stop just to start another. However, I will be unofficially participating in that during the month of November, my goal is to write the last 50K words of my novel-in-progress, so I’ll be updating my progress towards that goal here on the blog.

But this shouldn’t stop you, no sir (or ma’am). Grab a notebook and a pencil, your favorite word processing or novel writing software and start preparing your notes or just start staring out the window and day dreaming about what story you want to tell during the month of November. Whatever method works for you.


I’ll be using the word count death bar provided by writertopia. Here’s my progress on the Novel so far:

As you can see, I have a set goal of 125K words, a total I reached by the mathematically exact method of guessing about how far into the novel I am and adding up all the bits and pieces I’ve written so far. I’m estimating about a 2-3K margin of error.

And since I’ve still got ten days before NaNoWriMo officially starts, there’s a chance of finishing the first draft by Thanksgiving. A slim one, but a doable one. At the very least, I’ll get most of the way there, Stay tuned to see how close i can get!

NaNoWriMo: Update

In the last two weeks, my National Novel Writing Month project has amassed about 7000 words. That’s not quite up to where I should by by about 10K words. Also, I’ve hit a story snag and due to impending travel plans will be gracefully bowing out for the remainder of the month. But!

This is a good thing. I never intended to write 5oK words but instead wanted to challenge myself to put forth a concerted effort to just write. Anything. The process was the point and it worked. That 7K word chunk, while not quite the story I wanted, helped me break down the walls and work out the kinks in the ideas that have been clogging my brain. I have a solid revised idea for my next novel and wouldn’t have gotten there without the effort I put in, and the encouragement of the Nanowrimo community and my friends. Thanks everybody!

Now, from her eon out, I have a novel to write. Somewhere in the vicinity of 90K words. I’ll be working at a much more modest rate, aiming for 500 words a day, roughly 2500 a week. That should put me at completion of the first draft in about 9 months. When I return from vacation, I’ll start the word count and post updates on my progress, along with chapters, as a way for me to continue to work out the process of writing a novel and give those interested a look into the creative process. Should be fun!

NANoWriMo: Chapter 2+

I’ve added chapter 2 and a slightly revised chapter 1.

I tend to revise as I go, which I know I shouldn’t but do anyway. It’s the obsessive librarian tendencies creeping in.

Anyway, Simon’s world is getting stranger, which I like. The fun part is not knowing just where I’m going with this story. I have a vague half formed idea but it’s like driving through the fog: I can see a few feet in front of me but any further than that is hazy and indistinct. But it’s exciting too, because nay moment, I may hit a tree! Er. Or, just find something unexpected.

NaNoWriMo: The Plot Thickens (Hopefully)

So, my idea with adding martians to the Lives of Perfect Creatures has gone and taken on a life of its own. This is a good thing. The Martians want their own novel and really, who can blame them? I have a good idea and there’s no reason to cling to the already finished novel as a framework for it. Now I just need to disentangle the Martians from that story and find one of their own to tell. This can be done, but takes time. National Novel Writing month starts tomorrow.

So, while I have a concept and a handful of ideas for characters, I have no plot. This is not necesarily a bad thing. NaNoWriMo encourages just diving in and working it out as you go. Which is what I’ll be doing most of the next month.

I’ll be posting updates and throwing out questions as the plot snarls and character motivations wander off. For those interrested in the sausage making secrets of writing a novel, stay tuned.

You Got Martians in My Novel!

So, what happens when you spend an incredibly lazy Sunday laying around watching TV and alternately reading Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and The Martian Chronicles? You wake up with totally hair-brained schemes, that’s what.

This one involves NaNoWriMo and my previously already written and published novel, The Lives of Perfect Creatures. Yeah, you see where this is going, right?

I’m going to spend the month of November adding Martians to The Lives of Perfect Creatures. this totally breaks the rules of NaNoWrMo, but I don’t care because I really like the idea. I will of course keep you posted.

Nanowrimo 2008

It’s National Novel Writing Month again! And like last year, I’m unable to participate.

Last year, I was hip deep in my second novel (more on that shortly) and didn’t want to stop that one to write another.* This year, I happened to be in between projects for November but alas, I’m going to Ireland in 3 weeks, and so would only have 21 days instead of 30. I know, it’s sad.

So, go out there and write your novel! Do it for me! Or more importantly, do it because it’s fun and satisfying to create something.

But! I’m going to Ireland! Which will be lots of fun. I’m sure I’ll have pictures when we get back in December and I’ll be tweeting the trip whenever possible.

Over the next 3 weeks, I’ll be talking about my on-going process to find a publisher for my new novel and the novel itself. So, that’ll be fun. Also, I understand there’s some sort of electoral thing happening in a few days. So yeah. Vote.


* You can’t work on an already started project as part of Nanowrimo. And writing one novel is hard enough.