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NaNoWriMo 2019, Day 4

Total words written: 1,034.

It’s, uh, not a great start, but it is a start, nonetheless.

I haven’t scheduled my time well this week. I was socializing all Friday evening, then was out all of Saturday. I had some time Sunday morning, but didn’t take advantage of it. I’ve been getting words in here and there.

Hopefully I can gain some momentum this week, as I have nothing planned for the next few days. The challenges this year are different than last — this time around, it’s a matter of maintaining emotional engagement rather than time management. At least, that’s what I thought until I actually started writing this year.

Onward.

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NaNoWriMo 2019 Prep: Loose Ends

I’m wrapping up my revisions to the existing draft of Field of Shards. Other than some scene rewrites in the first chapter, it’s been smooth sailing.

I noticed a very Hemingway-esque trick at the bottom of my manuscript: leaving a sentence unfinished as a prompt to continue writing. I recall doing that a bit last year, sometimes out of exhaustion, having finished my writing quota and not wanting to keep going. It sorta works — there’s a compulsion to finish the sentence, sure, but afterwards is harder when you’re drowning in the tar pit of writer’s block.

I have a few other character bits to add before I start writing anew on Friday: better descriptions, a few names to add, and an entirely new bit character to fill a gap caused by my one big character change from the existing manuscript. Nothing that would stop me from starting, but good to take care of while I can.

As for official NaNoWriMo meetups this year? I’m not sure. I need to see what my schedule is like, and I’d rather not drive across the bay to St. Pete or Clearwater on a weekday afternoon. More than likely, I’ll just keep in touch online.

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NaNoWriMo 2019: The Preppening

As November 1st approaches, I’ve begun preparing for this year’s marathon of words. Read on for the details.

This Year’s Project: Continue working on Field of Shards

Although I eventually stalled out at ~17K words, Field of Shards had a great start last year. I’ve learned from NaNos past that you should never start a new project if there’s one you’d rather be doing, and this story’s pretty decent, if I may be conceited for a moment.

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NaNoWriMo 2018: a Post-Mortem

Total words: 16,507

That…didn’t go as planned.

Despite some thorough pre-writing and my best efforts, I did not reach 50,000 words during November. I didn’t anticipate coming down with an aggressive, flu-like cold. On the other hand, I did know about a crucial deadline at work, so I could have planned around that better.

Still, that’s 16K words on a story I’m thrilled about.

I’m catching up on business I put off while I was sick, but I should be back on it soon.

I’m also brainstorming a blog series to start next year, something to work out my writerly muscles and critically examine very flawed stories that I love.

Will I attempt NaNoWriMo next year? Eh. I knew it would be a challenge this year, and circumstances likely won’t change much by then. Chances are I’ll still be finishing this year’s novel. We shall see.

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NaNoWriMo 2018: Days 19-25

Word count: 16,507

Best laid plans, yadda yadda yadda. I finally made some time…and then I caught a nasty cold I’m just starting to get over.

I’m getting better. If I hit 20K words by November 30, I’ll be satisfied.

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NaNoWriMo 2018: Days 12-18

Total word count: 16,304

So this week was terrible for getting any writing done. I was busy at work preparing for a deadline, taking care of Board of Trustees business, and dealing with some persistent fatigue. I knew I wouldn’t write much, but I skid to a halt.

I have all next week off. I just hope I feel better so I can get something, anything written.

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NaNoWriMo 2018: Days 5-11

Word count: 16,018

Things are about to slow down. I’m running headlong into several unavoidable commitments this week, so my time crunch is at its crunchiest. I’m also dealing with a bit of fatigue, possibly caused by my health regimen, or perhaps minor sleep deprivation caused by the time change and driving early to Orlando on Friday for a workshop.

There’s a good chance I won’t win NaNoWriMo this year. However, I’m still confident I’ll finish my novel — just not as fast as I had expected.

My outline, despite some drift, is still serving me well. There’s one character whose fate I’m contemplating changing, but I can’t tell yet what outcome would play better until his arc is more fleshed out. My other three MCs have told me their secrets, a good sign that they’ll be “alive” on the page.

I have to keep up my momentum. If I write at least a page a day (around 250 words), the story will continue to flow, and when I get more time later I’ll be able to ramp my productivity back up.

Despite the inevitable slowdown, things are going very well.

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NaNoWriMo 2018: Days 1-4

Total word count: 7,005

My “super-outline” spreadsheet — the one with too many columns — might be the key to keeping me on track this year. I had to work out every single plot beat in advance, including what POV characters to use each chapter. By sticking with the outline, I’ve been able to keep the words flowing, with minimal changes so far.

(One inspiration I forgot to mention: JK Rowling used a similar setup for her outline for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.)

The real test comes next week. I’ll be at a work conference from Friday-Sunday, so I can only count on four solid evenings for writing. To make up for those lost days, I’ll have to write 3K/day Monday-Thursday. But the chapters I have outlined for next week are ready to go, so with luck I won’t get bogged down with plot issues.

Characters are close to how I envisaged them. The dialogue is tricky, as it’s one thing I didn’t work out in advance. I do know the backstories for each of my main characters, so I can ballpark the right word choices, tone, etc. from the start, and clean it up later.

Getting the pace right is tough. I guessed each chapter would be ~1.5K, but they’re coming in a little longer. At least I’ll have enough material through the end of the month, if not longer.

This rough draft feels cleaner than in years past, but that’s no indicator of actual quality. No matter what, it’ll be riddled with abrupt color changes, misspelled place names, and so on.

On to week 2!

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NaNoWriMo 2018: Final Preparations…

…Are as finished as I can manage.

I have an outline. (There’s a subplot I need to add, but I’ll do that in the next few days, and it won’t interfere with the first couple chapters.)

I have a few strategies for getting the words out. Most days I’ll be at home in the evenings, but for those that I’m not I can either write on my lunch break, or immediately before or after whatever meeting I have scheduled.

I have tea — with caffeine, even! — enough for the next few days, should I need it.

And I will not be starting at midnight tonight. I need to sleep. I still have work and other responsibilities, and continuing to fulfill those along with NaNoWriMo means staying sane and healthy.

All that said, I have medium confidence in my finishing this year. Several things in common the years I’ve won are 1) a high level of enthusiasm in the story, 2) a substantial outline, and 3) no emotional crises midway through. I stall out if I’m not invested, I get mired in the weeds if I don’t plan ahead, and sometimes life just has other priorities. If those are kept in check, I should be good.

Field of Shards, my NaNoWriMo 2018 attempt, is ready. Let’s do this.

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NaNoWriMo 2018: The Lengthy Prologue

The time is upon us.

I’ve been preparing for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, for several weeks. Last year’s attempt fizzled out for a number of reasons (and for the best — much of what I was satirizing in Doctor Who seems to be rectified with the new series). Here’s what I’m doing differently this time around.