Project Sagittarius: January 2023 Update

Total word count: 18,235

“This month didn’t go as planned” is an understatement. I ran into some logistical plot issues about halfway through the month that’s required a bit of tinkering, and soon after I’ve had to deal with some work issues and two major, unexpected expenses that sucked out any enthusiasm I was able to muster.

Anyway, plot issues. I may delete one of my main characters. Their sections are becoming more of a slog to write, which is a bad sign for how readable their passages are. I have ideas about how to make them more enjoyable to read about, but throwing them out the proverbial airlock is still on the table.

I’m also changing a subtle-yet-wide-reaching mechanic about how my society functions. This happens sometimes: you’re brainstorming, maybe before bed, and you think “this plot point would make much more sense if X instead of Y,” and you know it’s true, but that means a lot of fine detail work on what you’ve already written to make sure it fits.


Anyway, this is all to say that I’m ditching monthly goals for the time being. What I get done, I get done. And given that February and March both have week-long vacations where I’ll be disinclined to write much, that’s certainly for the best.

See you next time!


Project Sagittarius: December 2022 Update

Total word count: 15,008

I knew this month would be hectic, but looking at my daily word count table, I underestimated just how difficult writing this month would be.


Project Sagittarius Milestone: 10K Words

Total word count: 10,321

Progress this month has been fairly steady, apart from some neck pain this weekend that slowed me down considerably. It helps to have an action scene with a ton of buildup to keep motivated.


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NaNoWriMo 2022 (aka Project Sagittarius): Day 30

Total word count: 7543

Despite two Thanksgiving dinners, sinusitis, a busier-than-usual work schedule, and other various personal issues, I reached the goal I set a few days in: 250 words a day, 7,500 words by the end of the month.


NaNoWriMo 2022: Days 21-25

Total word count: 6269

Thanksgiving week went about as expected, as I’ve been writing only in fits and starts. However, in contrast with the sprint-like pace of 1,667 words/day of a typical NaNoWriMo project, 250/day is easy to catch up with.

I’ve come around to a point-of-view a writer friend proposed, when I discussed my then-current NaNoWriMo project with her some years ago. To paraphrase, she preferred a slower pace, as inevitably you’d have to unstitch your NaNo draft, fix some frayed edges, replace pieces wholesale, or even change the pattern. A slower pace means easier course corrections.

A tangent. Although it’s more of a historical oddity now, 250 is the average number of words that would fit on a page formatted to manuscript guidelines common in the publishing industry: 12-point Courier font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins. I haven’t submitted to publishing houses in years, but when I last had some were beginning to loosen those guidelines, instead relying on counts generated by whatever word processor you used. (The official NaNoWriMo site always relied on the latter.)

Although I’m using a pageless document format, I’ve been writing a page a day on average.


NaNoWriMo 2022, Days 17-20

Total word count: 5078

I wrote on my tumblr that once you’ve started making character notes, you know a writing project has gotten serious. Well, dear reader, I began making them last night.

I don’t recall when, but for some prior project I began including reference pictures, usually of actors or actresses close to how I imagine each character to look. It’s a nice shorthand for imagining not only how a character looks, but what their voice sounds like, how they move, etc.

Despite having the week off, the next few days will actually be hardest: it’s Thanksgiving week in my part of the world, and I have two dinners planned (though only cooking for one of them). We’ll see how well my slow-but-deliberate 250/day pace pays off.


NaNoWriMo 2022: Days 11-16

Total word count: 4004

Getting this out a day later than I anticipated, as I was up late last night watching a long-delayed rocket launch.

You know what sucks? Blocking, by which I mean placing characters in a scene so that it makes sense. It was a chore when I had to keep blocking notes as a stage manager in college theater, and it still is even in a completely fictional world. Is Joe still at the oven cooking pasta, or has he gone to the front door? Mary was sitting on the porch, but on the next page it says June is.

It doesn’t matter much on first draft, but if you can keep enough of it straight the first time, it makes editing easier, and doesn’t feel like shuffling around chess pieces.


NaNoWriMo 2022: Days 6-10

Total word count: 2509

Ah, the benefits of the tortoise pace.

Writing at 250 words/day is giving me the time to properly develop two parallel cultures, as seen through my two POV characters. Much of the fun of writing, at least in my experience, is uncovering all these little fossils and artifacts that you never planned for (to borrow Stephen King’s allegory of the dinosaur skeleton).

Eventually, I’ll need to keep track of all these world building artifacts — character names, places, etc. I can write characters sheets et al. in parallel with the manuscript itself, so if I have to create a character on-the-fly, I’ll have the time to make them a character bio after hitting my word count.

It feels odd to be at what would normally be Day 2 of a typical NaNoWriMo sprint. But it’s been better sailing this year than the past three or four. I’ll take it.


NaNoWriMo 2022: Days 1-5

Current word count: 1502.

It only took two days for me to realize that I needed National Novel Writing Month to be Personal Novel Writing Year.

To my relief and astonishment, the words are flowing just fine. My pre-writing notes are yielding enough “sourdough starter,” as it were, to keep baking. However, my time is just a bit more fragmented than I had anticipated at the start. I can usually piece together enough time for about 250 words per day, but getting enough for 1667 words per day is impossible on most days.

However: writing 250 words per day, over 365 days, nets 91,250 words. That’s a nice-sized novel.

So the train keeps rolling.