NaNoWriMo Post-Mortem

Yeah, about that…

I knew I wouldn’t be hitting 50,000 words this month. I wasn’t expecting to fall short by 49K, though!

There were two primary issues: one of which is just luck of the draw, and the other is more significant:

1) Changing priorities meant losing my focus. Some family drama, professional uncertainty, and other (undisclosed) personal issues kept me from giving Field of Shards the attention it needed.

2) I over-planned.

So, about #2. I’ve tried to find correlations between my least and most successful novel attempts in the past. Personal issues is the biggest contributor to failed NaNoWriMos in my experience, but I noticed lately that my most outlined, world-built, and back-storied novels tend to stall the most.

I thought that this year, continuing to build on my giant spreadsheet-based outline and fleshing out character backstories would lead to more success, allowing me to pick up between short writing breaks. That didn’t happen.

My process might be broken right now. I want my stories to have “good bones,” i.e. solid conflict and character motivations. But by growing the skeleton before the muscles, it’s dry and lifeless. (I’m stretching my metaphor here.) I’ve been able to maintain progress on earlier stories by leaving some things unplanned — which necessitates extensive revision later.

It might be time to shift to discovery writing. I’ve focused on plot, plot, plot so much since Viable Paradise in 2012 that I forgot that, in my experience, the joy of writing is the unexpected.


While I mull over Field of Shards some more, I might start another project. I have time off work later this month, which gives me ample opportunity to start over.