So, November is halfway over, which means NaNoWriMo is also halfway over. Figured I’d give an update on my progress so far.
The Word Count
Essentially, I’m where I need to be. I’d like to say I got there the way you’re supposed to, with a steady, easy pace of 1,667 words per day. Alas, that is not so.
I started off the month in a hole, missing the first day off the bat. I was able to dig myself out within a few days and even get myself ahead a little. Then, the second week started.
During the second week I struggled to keep pace. Basically, a few missed days and a couple light days left me with a 5,400-word deficit.
Not wanting to give up altogether, as I’ve done in past years (I’ve never actually finished a NaNoWriMo), I spent a solid seven hours on Saturday (11/14) writing at an average pace of 905 words per hour, logging 6,336 words altogether – wiping out both my word-debt and my brain in the process.
I was a bit worried how that would affect me on Sunday. Indeed, I did not even come close to writing at the same pace, but I did spend several hours in the morning tapping out about 1,900 words, leaving me further in the black.
Which means at this point I’ve got more than 25,000 words of my story written. That puts me in track to actually complete this thing.
The question is, are any of the words I’ve written any good?
As Orson Scott Card has written, a writer must simultaneously believe his work is both the best thing ever written and the worst piece of drivel ever jotted down. So, the answer is, of course it’s good – and also, it sucks waste water.
Which actually is less dichotomous than it might initially seem. I generally like the way the story is developing, but there are some slow parts. I once (apparently) called “The Council of Elrond” chapter in The Fellowship of the Ring an info-dump, and as it turns out I’ve written a series of chapters in my current story that is much the same (but with fewer characters and much less artistry). Also, my story is ostensibly science fiction, but it’s been a little light on the science heretofore.
But recognizing such flaws, my goal at this point is simply to get things out onto the virtual page. I already know I’ll have to do some fairly heavy first-round editing, and the chapters probably won’t line up the way they do now. Expanding and cutting is for editing, for now it’s all about the broad strokes.
There are several things I see that could cause me problems going forward.
1. I have more days where I write nothing or very little. One of the points of NaNoWriMo is to take some of the chore out of writing by turning it into a daily habit. This is a good goal, but it’s not something that comes easily for me. I tend to do things in bursts, especially creative things like writing, reading, playing guitar, etc. In fact I wrote the first chapter and a half of the story I’m currently working on back in the summer after talking the initial idea over with my friend Dave. Then, nothing for several months. How many other projects do I have like that? All of them…
2. Relatedly, over the next couple weeks I have quite a few days when other obligations and events will likely conspire to keep me from writing. Overcoming that is mostly just a matter of willpower and dedication – but recognizing that doesn’t make it easier to deal with (unless you believe in the whole “naming your fear makes it easier to conquer” thing, which I don’t necessarily – the words “ACL tear” are just as freakin’ scary to me as they ever were). Between work, taking care of kids, recording podcasts, and work-study stuff for Signum University – not to mention submitting my MA thesis application and dealing with the repercussions of that – I have very few hours between now and the end of the month to double my word count.
3. I might reach 50,000 words and not be done. In fact, that probably will be true if the story works out as I currently see the path in my brain. Fifty thousand words is the extreme low end for a novel. I will likely need more (possibly much more) than the month of November just to finish my first draft. And that scares me because I dislike indefinite things.
There may be others, but these concerns are at the forefront of my mind.
Okay, enough writing about my writing. Time to write.