Friday, December 13, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 Wrap Up

Another November has come and gone and thus ends another NaNoWriMo. As most of you know, I set aside Familiar for the month of November in order to devote myself to a new project, Guardian. I also used last month as an experiment, testing out a new, more detailed plotting method and daily writing plan.

Some people have asked me why I didn't just continue to work on Familiar through November and focus on finishing the draft, especially since I'm behind on my (self-imposed) deadlines.

There were a couple of reasons for this:

1) Even though I suspect I have about 50k left to write on this draft of Familiar, I don't let myself take the same project to NaNoWriMo more than once and I worked on it last November and thus making it ineligible. I am a stickler for rules, particularly rules I make up for myself that don't really have anything to do with logic at all and are just there because I felt like I needed a rule.

2) Because Familiar is threatening to become one of those never-ending projects that sucks time out of my entire life forever, I decided not to let it derail my original plans for NaNoWriMo. I had intended to start a new project in November of 2013. I didn't want to let Familiar not being done yet stop me from moving on as planned.

3) Probably most importantly, I periodically need a change of pace to clear out my head. I get too sucked into a story if I work on it exclusively for too long and I get to the point where I can't see my way out anymore. I can always tell I've reached this point when the scenes in my draft start ending with, "NOTE TO SELF: THIS SCENE SUCKS AND IT'S NOT WORKING AND I DON'T KNOW HOW TO FIX IT BUT I DO KNOW THAT I DON'T WANT TO FIGHT WITH IT ANYMORE. MOVING ON BEFORE I STAB MY EYES OUT WITH A PEN."

Yes, I really write that kind of thing right into my drafts. With the caps lock and everything. I feel better about myself when I come back to those crap scenes to review later if I can at least tell myself I knew it was crap when I was writing it too.

Anyway, that's why I made the plan I did. Now to debrief and look at how it all worked out.

First, I suppose I should say that I didn't "win". I did not reach 50k in 30 days. I barely managed to scrape my way across the halfway point, ending the month with a grand total of 25889 words. So, on the one hand, no winner's certificate for me. Bummer. On the other hand, 25889 words of a brand new novel! Yay!

To get into the numbers (and excuses) for a minute, here is my word count graph for the month. As you can see, things were chugging right along, albeit a little slowly, for the first half of the month. I lost one weekend to a cold, but otherwise I was on pace. Then the whole thing went to hell and my writing time pretty much evaporated.

I got sick, again, this time with a flu-ish thing that left me with a fever and nausea and dizziness and pretty much no way in the world to sit upright and form coherent sentences. Then, once I recovered, I had life stuff to catch up on and travel to prep for. And then actual traveling to do. Then I was attacked by yet another cold, this time with the added fun and excitement of my younger daughter accompanying me. (Because it really was too much to hope that I could get sick three times without one of the kids catching something from me.)

And then the month was over and that was that. I think in the whole second half of the month I only managed to sit down to write one time. So, given that I only actually wrote for the first two weeks, I'd say that 25k is just fine and dandy.

Additionally, I'm very pleased with the new plotting method and daily writing plan and I think I'll be making them part of my regular process, taking them back to the second half of Familiar with me. I've always considered myself a pantser, but I suppose I'm now officially a plotter. Maybe it's a growing up thing. Maybe it's just a temporary necessity thing. But whatever the reason, the plotting is working for me these days and so I will be sticking with it.

So I didn't "win" NaNoWriMo, but I'm happy with where I am. Great. What's next?

As you've probably already guessed, I'm going back to working on Familiar full time until I finish the draft. I toyed with the idea of splitting my time between the two projects, but I didn't like the way my timeline looked under that plan. I don't want things to end up too far off track and I feel like at this point, the sooner I move Familiar out of the writing column and onto the next stages, the better.

(Yes, I have a timeline. I have several, actually. And Gantt charts.)

(Okay, I don't have Gantt charts. But I could! I just don't have my old project management software anymore and I'm too busy to build myself a new template. That's a procrastination project for another day.)

I also toyed briefly with the idea of just letting Familiar go and continuing on with Guardian. I like Guardian a lot. Charlie is turning out to be a different character than I originally expected and she's very interesting to write. The story is... darker than I'm used to and I like it. Plus she's got one heck of a mouth on her, which gives me a nice place to put all those damns and shits and fucks I have to hold back in front of the kids.

But, in the end, I can't let go of the cats. I want their story told, not shut away in a folder on my hard drive to be fiddled with here and there on snow days. I could keep it as a trunk novel, to be worked on in between other things, but I know that means it'd probably never come to anything and that makes me too sad. As much as I sort of hate it right now, I'm still enough in love with it that I want to work things out.

Besides, I think the Idea Salesman would be far too depressed if I didn't go rushing right back over to the page after his grand motivational halftime speech.

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