Saturday, November 07, 2009

Endweek NaNoPost

We've hit the one-week mark for National Novel Writing Month, which is a good time to stop and take a look at how the work is going. With my normal work schedule I tend to work six days straight and use the seventh to look back, decide if I need to adjust something, and then take care of the thousand small details that I set aside during the writing process.

Some examples from my NaNoNovel: this week I had to coin about thirty words as I needed them to appear in the story; today I'll make sure that I'm happy with my choices as I update the novel glossary. I've brought in three new secondary characters; I'll update their character worksheets with bits about them from their scenes. I also like to keep a running list of tertiary or background characters who are named or described so I don't populate the story with any who are interchangeable or confusing with another.

Because I'm fond of several letters and tend to overuse them, one of my tricks with character naming is to make up two alphabetical lists of given names and surnames by letter, leaving open the letters I haven't used in the event I need another new name in the story. This prevents me from having a story overrun by J-named characters or those who all have surnames that end with -an, -er or -et.

My energy level and interest in my story is still in the high ranges, and I hope yours is, too. But if mine weren't, this would also be the day I decide if I want to keep going or scrap the WIP and do something else. No matter how carefully I plan -- and baby, I am the Queen of Planet Plan -- I really don't know until I've written a story for a week or two if I'm going to be able to move in and live in it for the next five to eight weeks. That said, once I make that one-week commitment, I will not stop until the story is finished, no matter how plodding or stressful the writing becomes. As much as I dislike working on a story that loses my interest halfway through, I hate unfinished manuscripts even more.

I'm glad I was able to write a little extra each day and buy myself two days off from NaNo to rest and think and reorganize my thoughts, but if something hits me this weekend that I need to get down on the page, I will write more. Even my days off aren't set in stone; I think you have to go with whatever the work demands (as long as it's reasonable.)

In my daily NaNoNotes book (to see larger version, click on the image) I've been jotting down some reminders on things I need to research as they come up in the story. There's a system of catering in India that uses metal buckets to deliver hot lunches to working people in the cities (and this is just a vague memory of something I watched once in a documentary.) My "D" note is a nudge to research that real-world practice in order to doublecheck the logic of the world-building I based on it. I'm also probably going to meet with one of my life-experts this weekend for lunch and a Q&A; I need to prep my question list so I can thoroughly interrogate him about what I need to know about his field of expertise and put together a convincing character who does the same thing. Life-experts are great because they can give you insight and behind-the-scenes info on their specialties that a writer can't usually find in books or other types of research (and while I've worked a lot of jobs, I've never been an animal control officer, a magician, a professional interior designer or the quarterback of a school football team.)

As you new NaNo'ers move into week two, you may find that the bright and shiny aspects of writing a novel are starting to flake off and it becomes a little harder to hit that keyboard every day. Until you reach the midway point (25,000 words written) these feelings may grow stronger and/or try to derail you. Don't let them. Once you hit the midway you begin to see the glimmer of the finish line ahead, and that will tug you through the last half of your writing experience. Your job now is to get to the place where that happens, even if it means slogging through the next seven days of writing.

Also, if you haven't knocked out as many words as you expected this past week, don't let that defeat you. I think the first week is really a time for you to settle into a writing routine of some sort, and develop good writing habits to carry you through the rest of your WIP.

So how do you guys feel about surviving the first week of NaNoWriMo? Let us know in comments.


  1. First week down and 11K on paper. Not bad, but I think I need to crank some words out this weekend, so I'm ahead of the game. They aren't great words, but definitely fixable once I get this puppy finished.

    Great job this week, Lynn. And congratulations to everyone. =o)

  2. I had a great week and more productive than I have been in months. I'm at 12K. I'm still really excited about my story, although the other doubts of self raise their ugly heads every once in a while.

    Great work on your nanoing, I envy your organization skills. :)

  3. Thanks for the working tips in your post. I learn lots here.

    I am just under 11,000. I am trying for steady and consistent this year.

    So far, so good.

    Silly Saturday #4 - Purdie Pyrate "The Pen's Mightier than the Sword"

  4. I've still got today's writing to do, which will end the week. I'm already over 17K so I'm really happy with that. I know there are some changes I have to make to the first scenes, but I'm not stressing over them.

    However, now that I'm this far in (the book will need to be more than 50K) I'm finding I'm having to slow down to keep track of who is where and what has to be shown to get where I want to go.

    I've written at a really fast pace before but the end product was such a mess it would have taken me forever to edit than to rewrite the sucker. So there is a hint of concern (read panic) about being able to keep up the pace.

  5. I can't even start it yet. Too busy revising another novel.

    Perhaps my NaNoWriMo will have to be in December.

  6. I'm thinking my plot has changed once again but I'm often that way in Nano and sometimes type till I see where the story begins.

    I must work on my outlining skills so I can count down on wasted words.

    Thanks for all the help, Lynn.

  7. The bad news: I'm really behind on my word count.

    The mediocre news: Made some significant progress yesterday, expect things to somewhat hold steady now, and have a short weekend and along weekend kid-less later this month that I think will really help.

    The good news: my four homeschooler-Nano'ers are doing very well... two right above word count, one significantly above, and one ridiculously above. (At the rate my youngest is going, she's going to hit her goal by the 10th!)

    It's taken more work then I expected to get the kids into the groove. Now that things are settling out with them, and they're able to just "sit down and write" when it's time to, word wars are working wonderfully. (With the added bonus of tying me to my seat to write, since all four of the kids are hassling ME about being behind, lol.)

    So yeah. That's my summary of week one. :)

  8. The metal lunch bucket from India - is it a tiffin? Here's a link with a picture of a Thai one (1/2 way down the page) but I've seen the India ones and they look exactly the same --

    My NaNo isn't going well, had the very nasty flu for the past 2 weeks and I've been uninspired. Tomorrow I plan to jump back in, now that I'm finally well again.

  9. Just about to start work on the denouement of the first book; I'm at 67,000 - but I'm taking the morning off.

    This arvo,I'll start the next one.

  10. I'm at 32K for the week, despite getting hit in the head with a bad case of the flu this week. Thank goodness for outlines. My feverish head didn't have to figure out what came next as I had already figured it out.

    Now, did what I write make a whole lot of sense thanks to that fever? I'm not sure yet. I'll go back in December and look. :)

  11. Margaret6:55 PM

    This is my sixth NaNo, and I probably feel the best about this one since my very time. 11K right now, with the evening ahead of me after I get my 5 year old to bed. The story's really clicking together still, and I hope it lasts!

  12. Thanks for being so detailed about your process--it's nice to see what other writers do, both to adopt techniques and to inspire new ones.

    My NaNo is going so-so. 5500, but the story's something very new for me (why do I always pick ambitious NaNo's?) and I'm doing another first: trying to edit another (very different) novel simultaneously. I thought it'd be good to develop the skill now for handling multiple projects--or finding out, before I'm committing to publisher-imposed deadlines, that I cannot handle juggling. I think I can work it out. I'm learning a lot about how I need time and how I think.

  13. Going badly. First day good, then washout. BTW tiffin is the Indian lunch delivery system

  14. After five succesful years, I've had to ditch this year two days in. Between personal health issues, familial health issues, and having my primary computer crap out (It won't be fixed for at least two weeks), I've just tossed up my hands. I still feel guilty about it, though.

    Good luck to everyone else!

  15. This is my first year and so far I have 11k. If I want to keep up I need to write at least another 2k...and I am at the point where my novel isn't new anymore, it isn't as fun, so those extra 2k are going to be a pain to get down. But, hopefully once I get going it will get easier to continue. I can already see Week Two is really going to screw with my head. All in all...I can at least say I am doing better than I thought I would.

  16. I am not a creative writer and I am not doing the NaNoWriMo. But I wanted to peek in and let you know how impressed I am by everyone who is participating! I am waving my pom-poms for you all!

  17. Anonymous1:00 AM

    Good god, I'm possessed by this story. I never wrote before, now I understand why writers are so intense. I feel that every time I walk away from my computer I gave birth .... til 11/30 or I collapse from exhaustion, which ever comes first


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.