Long story short, I didn’t make it. Of the 50,000 word goal, I clocked in at 46,532 words by end of day on November 30th. Thus, this round goes to NaNo. Missing a couple of days of writing because of the holidays (Damn you, turkey and pecan pie!) along with some toddler colds, sealed my fate. I typically average about 1,000 words a day. Pushing that to over 1,600 definitely required a reordering of my life to get it done (Guess I’ll have to find out about Glen’s fate when The Walking Dead is available on Netflix). Sometimes that daily goal happened. Sometimes it didn’t.
While my competitive side feels some disappointment, the writer side of me is actually pretty stoked to have gotten 46k n’ change onto the page. This dragon novel I devoted to NaNo will probably top out at 75,000 words, meaning that the first draft is halfway done after just one month’s work. Woot! Sure, I haven’t slept in 30 days, but sleep deprivation is the fuel of creativity, right? Someone said that once, didn’t they? It’s possible I hallucinated that…
Things I learned from my first bout of NaNo:
I’m a hybrid Pantser/Plotter: I like to invent as I go and allow for adjustments but I need the foundation and frame of the house to build at a steady pace. In other words, I need to know where I start, what (generally) happens in the middle, and the ending.
Research before getting too far: As it turns out, when one is writing a Fantasy novel set in medieval ages, there’s a crap ton of research required to get the day-to-day details right: from the housing, to the way people cooked, to how they traveled, to the animals they kept. You’re essentially writing historical fiction. Thankfully I’m nerdish in my love of research so I had a lot of fun with this. I officially know the difference between a bliaud and a jerkin.
Know your people: This being my second novel, I became keenly aware of how easy it can be to overlay personality types from a first novel onto new protagonists. I got to know those characters so well that it’s hard to put them away. My solution? Write up a personality description of the main players to get a feel for them and for reference (especially helpful with dialogue and to keep behavior consistent). Some examples I have jotted down: Taciturn but with a great sense of integrity and courage. Witty with a wry sense of humor that hides fear and loneliness. Practical, sharp tongued but with a kind heart and honest disposition. Actually, it kinda looks like an online dating profile.
Reality Check: I determined that 1,000 words is a good daily goal for me and my life at the moment. My hubs is a great support and totally picked up the slack during NaNo to allow me to give it my all, but long-term, that 1,600 count is a touch high. I’m comfortable with that. Work/Life balance, as they say.
And anyway, doing the math on this gig, if I average 1,000 words a day I can complete a rough draft in approximately two months. Allowing for revisions, beta reading and an editor, (and any other curve balls of life) I can aim to publish two quality novels a year, along with a smattering of short story works I’ve got brewing. In all, not too bad for this mama.
So, what do I think of the work I completed during NaNo?
The story is solid, but thank God for revisions.
So how did NaNo go for everyone else? Did you make it to Mt. 50,000?