Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The End: A NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

Well, this has been a rather eventful month, at least for me. While I certainly didn’t meet my original writing goal for November (505,505 words), I did still manage to beat last year’s word count by 40,000 words, so that was exciting. (Also, if you’re new and you’re wondering what National Novel Writing Month is, here’s a link to the explanation.)

As for my word count, I’ve been asked several questions along the way, so I’m going to attempt to answer them all here as I remember them.

What did you write?

Well, I (very technically) wrote seven novels in November, along with some other assorted odds and ends. Two of the books were historical fiction set during the time of the Black Death, one was a fantasy retelling of an Aesop’s fable, one was a psychological thriller, one was about time travel, one was a satire on writing, and one was a mainstream novel featuring writers, jealousy, and tea. These works all vary in length from a little under 50,000 words (the two that could be considered bloated novellas—but they’ll be longer after edits) to a little over 90,000. They all have a beginning and a middle and an end and some semblance of a plot. None of them are well-written or anywhere near presentable, which is why I won’t be sharing any snippets for a good long while. *sad face*

So you wrote all these words—are you going to edit them now?

Yes, or at least, partially yes. After my first NaNoWriMo (2013), I managed to edit everything that I had written because I took my three NaNo novels, went choppity-chop, and combined them all into one story. My second NaNoWriMo, I wrote five books, and I have only had the time to edit one (and that one still needs to go through at least one more draft). When it comes to revising and fixing up all my untouched NaNo novels, there’s going to be a pretty long waiting list, and while I do want to tackle each of them at some point or another, most of them will just have to wait a long time. (Translation: HELP I HAVE TOO MANY ROUGH DRAFTS AND WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH THEM ALL AND WHAT IF THEY FALL ON ME AND BURY ME?!)

As for when I will begin to tackle editing again, well, I will wait at least until January. It’s going to take a while to get all my thoughts back in order and my wrists back into working condition, so I’ll be taking all of December off. (I’ll still be blogging, though, so don’t worry—or I should say, don’t get too excited.)

Do you listen to music while you write?

Funny thing, that. I used to insist that I rarely listened to music while I was drafting, but this month I found myself with my earbuds in a fair amount. I think that was mainly to minimize distraction, though, because I now live in a basement apartment beneath a family with young, boisterous children who like to make a lot of noise. So yeah, music was my friend this time around.

That being said, when the kids had gone to bed and the house was silent, I did enjoy writing with no other sound but the clicking of the keys.

What did your schedule look like, and how much time a day did you spend writing?

So on a stay-home day, I would get up and watch something on Netflix with my sister, see her off to work, and then mentally prepare myself for writing while taking a shower. And by mentally prepare myself, I mean choose which flavor coffee creamer I wanted to use, or if I wanted to just drink the stuff black. Once I’d nabbed my coffee and situated myself on my bed (because I totally write in bed—guess where I am right now), I would browse through the NaNo forums for a while and kill time on Facebook.

Then, when I had procrastinated enough for starters, I would work for about two to two-and-a-half hours before taking my lunch break (which included more Netflix). After lunch, I’d write for another hour or so and then do anything that needed to get done around the apartment, like washing dishes or doing laundry or cleaning or amassing the necessary slave armies in preparation for taking over the world. I’d write for another one to two hours before eating supper and watching more Netflix. Depending on what my sister’s work schedule was on any given day, I would either end up spending most of the evening watching Netflix with her or I would focus on getting more writing done.

All in all, although I never kept track of my times, I guesstimate that I managed five to seven/ten hours a day, depending on what else I had going on. Earlier in the month, I had packing and moving which gave me even less time to work with, and there were days when various obligations bit out large chunks of my day. So yeah, I think five to ten sounds about right, on average.

Are you even human?

Well…no. But that has nothing to do with my writing speed.

Wait, what, how even?

I always get a little surprised when someone finds my word count impressive (and I know you’re going to hate me for this) because I spend most of my time comparing my numbers with other over achievers who are ahead of me. Like, way ahead of me. All that to say, I’m not some magical NaNo goddess with cages of trained muses giving me inspiration and typing speed in exchange for their eventual freedom. There are plenty of others who make me look like a first grader scribbling with a crayon on a used Kleenex.
This chart tracked the progress of everyone who wanted to be included (so, it's by no means comprehensive), but hopefully it can give you a decent idea of the general NaNoWriMo topography. For space reasons, I'm only showing you the top 26 out of 221 participants, but if you want to see the whole thing, here's the link. If you're looking for me, my username is Lorna Doone 11, and I'm tied for ninth place with Caillien.

I’ve already written a post on beefing up your word count, so I’ll just give you the brief version here. The main reason why I got to 444,444 words was that I spent the majority of my free time forcing myself to write, even when I didn’t want to or when I maybe had other priorities that were more important (oops). Sure, I watched TV, but that wasn’t just frivolous time spending, either. Every break was a chance to recharge my brain and wrists and get myself back into the writing zone. And every time I stepped away from my writing, I made sure I kept the writing mindset going so that I never had to stare at my document and wonder what I was going to do next. That being said, had I prioritized better and procrastinated less, there is no reason why I couldn’t have written more, but hey, that’s me shooting myself in the foot. And even though I didn’t reach my original goal, I’m happy with the number I got.

Well, that’s it, little coffee beans. I could talk about NaNoWriMo for hours and hours, but this post is getting long and you’re probably getting bored, so I’m just going to end it here. That being said, if you do have any specific writing, editing, or NaNo-related questions that I haven’t covered, feel free to ask away in the comments and I will get to you as soon as possible.


  1. What's your strategy for attacking editing your NaNo novels? Do you do a complete re-write, or do you try to salvage and just tweak as you go along?

    1. I reread the rough drafts and make a bunch of mental (and physical) notes on where I want to go with my story and what I might need to change and all that stuff. And then I just dive into rewriting the whole thing word for word, fixing and changing and cutting things as I go, sort of like putting together a puzzle. So yeah, I do a complete overhaul. In the end, it amounts to a lot less work since my first drafts are so horrible and tweaking would just make an even bigger mess. Thanks for the questions!

  2. Wow. *shakes head slowly* You're amazing. xD

  3. Pft, only 444,000? SLACKER.
    *hides self's 60,000 away in a quiet corner* I OBVIOUSLY WORKED HARD AND DID A LOT AHHAHAHAHA. AHEM. Not.
    Anyway, you are marvellous and well done! One of these years I'm going to challenge myself to actually write EVERY. SINGLE. DAY in November. Instead I'm always done in like 5 or 7 days. *shrugs* I am a binge writer though in that I write intensely for like a few days and then NADA FOR MONTHS. >_> I miiiiiight be considering trying to be more consistent next year. hehe.
    I'm in awe of those people writing a million words. IN AWE. Ahem.
    Congrats and congrats and CAAAAAKE A MILLION TIMES FOR YOU.

    1. I know, right? What did I even do this month?
      YOU DID A MARVELOUS JOB THIS NOVEMBER. *throws cake and confetti at you*

      Thank you! I think you could definitely beat me at NaNoWriMo if you wrote every day. After the first 100K, it's common to hit a bit of a slump, but once you get into the 200Ks, it gets easier to pick up pace. At least, that's what I've found. You should totally try to beat me next year. :P

      I can't imagine writing a million words in a month, and I think it's going to take two or three more years of training, at least, for me to be able to get there. BUT I WILL DO THE THING SOMEDAY.

      Thank you! *accepts all the cake*

  4. *SCREAMS* WHAT MADNESS IS THIS. I just managed to write like 30K (which WAS my goal, but still). And, like, SEVEN NOVELS. You deserve ALL the coffee and takeout. I'm just reeling from the sheer awesomeness here. May all your NaNos be equally productive and all the best in revisions!

    1. I'M LOSING MY MIND. *composes self* 30K is impressive! *pats you on the back* *accepts all the coffee and takeout* Thank you, and the same to you!

  5. Holy crap! This is such a huge accomplishment! Congratulations! I couldn't imagine writing that much in a month! Bravo! I feel like you really do have those caged muses. ;) I think you're holding out on us. ;)

    1. Thank you! :) *hides caged muses* What are you talking about? *whistles innocently* ;)

      It does help to prepare all year, though. Like, as soon as November ends, I start collecting ideas for next NaNoWriMo, and the intensive editing I do helps stretch my brain and keep it in fighting condition. :P But seriously, though, some of my 20K days were days when I could barely stand to make myself sit at the computer at write. It's more stubbornness, in the end, than anything else.

    2. I plan in advance, but I usually work on a few books a year as opposed to writing them all in one month. XD

    3. That's totally a valid method. :P

  6. WOW. Even if you didn't write as much as you originally planned, I still think you (and everyone else on that list) are absolutely fantastic.


    1. THANK YOU! *hugs you and gives you mountains of coffee beans*