Monday, November 5, 2012

30 Days + 50,000 Words

I always look forward to November each year because it's NaNoWriMo time! If you've spent any time following the writing community through blogs or Facebook or Twitter, you've probably heard of it by now. If not, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, which is a crazed push to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I've been doing NaNoWriMo since 2001. There were some years when I took a break from it because of conflicting deadlines, but I love to participate when I can. I usually like to write my first drafts quickly anyway, and the energy of the forums helps motivate me even more. I like knowing that so many other people are doing it at the same time.

I had a great first four days, but I can feel things slowing down a bit as I head into the middle of the book. Middles are usually the murky part for me as I try to figure out what’s supposed to happen. But I’m currently at 12,502 words, so I’m very happy that I pushed myself to get ahead right at the beginning. I usually do start out getting ahead and then slow down later in the month.

I usually advise not to think too hard or obsess when doing NaNoWriMo. Just focus on getting the words out. Once you have a basic frame for the story, you can go back and make it pretty later. But one thing that helped me get ahead was that I knew what I needed to write for these early scenes. I’ve always been a complete pantser. I would always write my books without knowing what would happen in them. I’m still a bit of a pantser, but I’ve learned how to make outlining work for me. I don’t outline the entire book and I don’t make myself stick strictly to it, I can change my mind when the need arises (I’ve already changed my mind on some things in this book). But for the first few scenes, I knew exactly what needed to happen and so I wrote very general outlines on the index cards in Scrivener. I'm working on the last book of my Swans Landing series, which takes place about two months after the end of Submerging. The beginning was pretty easy since it follows the events of the end of Submerging. But now I’m getting into the parts where the characters have been reunited, everyone who wasn’t present in book two now knows what happened, and so the book is flowing into its own storyline and new events. Which means things get a lot murkier and my writing will probably get a bit slower. But I have the NaNoWriMo community out there whenever I need some motivation! That's the best part of the challenge.

I also recommend this ebook for tips on how to increase your daily word count: 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. Or read her blog post on the topic.

For the rest of the book, I know the major events that need to happen and have the general outlines for them written in Scrivener, but I’ll fill in the scenes between those events as I write. Hopefully, the next 37,498+ words won’t be too difficult!

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If so, how did you do?


  1. I am joining this year too! This is my first year, so I am a bit nervous, but so far I am doing okay. I am slowing down now too, my novel is more of a mystery novel, so I had to plan clues and connections of different characters are really important, and since I haven't figure all of these before I started, things are getting overwhelming. I think I will have to sit back a few days to think of ways to plant clues that actually leads to the whole reveal, I am currently all out of ideas of how to connect the dots with the story :P Well, maybe a good night's sleep will help. Good luck on you writing, though I am sure you're now pretty skillful at it ;)

    Allyson Rida @ Chillin' With Books

    1. Yay on your first year! It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun too to just it all out. :D I know that feeling! I have some secrets revealed in this last Swans Landing book that I never really planned but are important, so I have to work with the bits of information I provided back in the first book before I had everything figured out. I hope you can connect the dots soon! Sometimes I don't figure out the perfect solution until I'm revising the book later, so don't worry too much if it doesn't come to you right now. You can always add the perfect solution later on. Good luck!!!