NaNoWriMo: Week 3 Report

Tonight marks the close of the 7th day of NaNoWriMo 2011.

So, I have just completed week 3 of this craziness. I had every intention of doing a week 2 report, as well, but I just didn’t have time. You’ll see why in a moment. After day 7, I had 44,717 words, less than 6,000 words shy of “winning” NaNoWriMo. Here are my individual story word-counts as of midnight, November 22nd.

“A Is for Anchor” – 10,574 words – incomplete – Magic Realism
“B Is for Bard” – 10,092 words – incomplete – Fantasy
“C Is for Clowns that Creep Through the Yard” – 5719 words – complete – Horror

“D Is for Dragon” – 6,369 words – complete – Fairy Tale + Humor
“E Is for Egg” – 4,975 words – complete – Science Fiction
“F Is for Fangs that Are Sunk in Your Leg” – 9,039 words – incomplete – Science Fiction

“G Is for Gravesite” – 2,204 words – complete – Fantasy
“H Is for Haunted” – 5,309 words – incomplete – Horror
“I Is for Investigation: Unwanted” – 6,627 words – incomplete – Urban Fantasy

“J Is for Jackpot” – 3,069 words – complete – Dystopian Science Fiction
“K Is for Kiss” – 3,191 words – complete – Fairy Tale
“L Is for Lucky for a Hit or a Miss” – 3,219 words – complete – Dark Fantasy

“M Is for Moons” – 3,378 words – incomplete – Science Fiction + Fantasy
“N Is for Nocturnal” – 4,151 words – complete – Erotic Fantasy
“O Is for Oath of Service Eternal” – incomplete – Fantasy + Humor

“P Is for Prey” – 3,630 words – complete – Science Fiction
“Q Is for Quest” – 1,557 words – incomplete – Fairy Tale + Humor
“R Is for Ritual Performed as a Test” – 4,598 words – complete – Dark Fiction

“S Is for SkullCosm” – 3,872 words – incomplete – Science Fiction
“T Is for Talents” – 3,622 words – complete – Dystopian Science Fiction
“U Is for Unicorn Imbalance” – 1,826 words – complete – Dark Fantasy

If you add in the 617 words of “Fangs” that I wrote and then crossed out because I had chosen the wrong part of the story to start at and the 1527 words of “Nocturnal” that were an interesting science fiction idea that I could not make work before I changed it to Erotic Fantasy, that comes out to a grand total of 101,066 words as of today.

Here’s what the intervening two weeks of writing fast and furious to get to this many words has taught me.

  • Write through writer’s block. For the first seven stories (the first week), I had definite ideas (minus Anchor). When I sat down to write most of them, I knew the characters, plot, and world, and all I had to do was sit down and let the words out. It was actually fairly easy. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed writing so much as I did that first week. But then for Haunted, Investigation, Kiss, Moon, Prey, Quest, Ritual, and SkullCosm, I had only the vaguest notion of what the story was. At most I had a notion of character and a glimmer of a world. But I sat down at the keyboard and I just started typing, going with the first thing that popped into my head, inventing as I went along. As I went, I was forced to make decisions, and those decisions forced me to make others . . . and then before you know it, I had character, plot, and world. Do I love these stories? Not all of them. :) I think all of them are good ideas, and with a little work after NaNoWriMo, I may be able to pull a better story out of them, and you’ll notice that a lot of those are incomplete. But the important part is that I didn’t let not having a perfectly formed story stop me. I went with my original ideas and made them work, and I look forward to finishing the stories.
  • Butt in chair. For Jackpot, Lucky, Nocturnal, Oath, Talents, and Unicorn, I had less than no idea when I sat down to write at the beginning of the day. Not even the words for all but two of those. But I let my subconscious work on it, and each time, a story sparked. It’s interesting that of these most recent 14 stories, my favorite six are Jackpot, Lucky, Nocturnal, Oath, Talents, and Unicorn.
  • Trust your instincts. For Nocturnal, my first glimmer of an idea was involving Nyx, the Greek personification of the Night. I did a lot of research on her, but the story kept turning into erotic fiction, and I couldn’t figure out the POV. So I abandoned it and forced another interpretation, which I then tried to write. I got 1527 words in and said, “No. This isn’t working. This isn’t what I want to write.” So I scrapped it and started over using my original idea of Nyx, but told from the POV of a man she picks up from a bar. I’m not comfortable writing erotic fantasy, but apparently that’s what I needed to write, because that’s what came out. And other than the very last paragraph or two, I really like it.
  • Two—or sometimes 17—heads are better than one. I needed help on some of my ideas and I enlisted friends to help me out. I used names suggested by my Facebook friends in Dragon. The entire idea for Fangs came from a friend on LiveJournal. Kiss got its twist from yet another friend who made a typo to me in IM while trying to help me out. For Ritual, I used many suggestions from my friends on Facebook, although never in quite the way they probably intended. :) Not only did my friends make direct contributions by coming up with angles I wasn’t seeing (I need to work on that, clearly), but merely opening up for that to happen seems to have gotten my own creative juices flowing more.

I’d like to stress one thing in relation to the first point above. “Writers Block” doesn’t mean you don’t have ideas. It means you don’t have ideas that you can work with right now. Or at least for me, that’s what it means. I had plenty of ideas for, say, the letter J, but nothing that worked for me until a tiny voice in my head said “Jackpot” and showed me the entire story from beginning to end.

That’s pretty much it for weeks 2 through 3. I typed this mostly because I need to keep all these points in mind for the upcoming week. I have nothing at all for V, only a faint glimmer of a world and situation for W(itness), zero for X(enogamy) and Y, and then the beginnings of a notion for Z(ombie).

I can’t wait to see what I come up with. :)


NaNoWriMo: Week 1 Report

Tonight marks the close of the 7th day of NaNoWriMo 2011.

When I first started making posts about it back in . . . probably August? Maybe even July? . . . I had come to the decision that I did not want yet another incomplete novel sitting on my hard drive, especially with four current ones in development. It just seemed silly. Irresponsible. Overwhelming. And probably a few other choice adjectives as well.

So I decided to do a collection of 26 short stories. I’ll spare you from me repeating the idea again. The idea was that they were supposed to be short stories. You know, 2000 to 2500 words on average. I’d do one per day, maybe not even in order, and at the end I’d have around 52,000 words. Ample to win NaNoWriMo and it would give me 26 new short stories to play with.

“A Is for Anchor” currently sits at 10,574 words, and it’s not even close to done.
“B Is for Bard” currently has 7,547 words, and is also not complete. I know where I’m going with it, at least.
“C Is for Clowns (that Creep Through Your Yard)” is at 5,700 words even, and is complete.

“D Is for Dragon” boasts 6,369 words, complete.
“E Is for Egg” weighs in at 4,975 words, complete.
“F Is for Fang (that Gets Sunk in Your Leg)” halted at 6,731 and is not complete.1

“G Is for Gravesite” came in at just 2,204 words, complete.

At least one of the stories came in around 2000 words.

This puts me at 44,717 words in just 7 days. If I keep writing at the same rate I’ve been writing so far this month, I will surpass the monthly goal of 50,000 words tomorrow at some point.

To say that this is unexpected would be tantamount to calling the Pacific Ocean “a bit damp.” I had no idea I could write this much in just 7 days. Hell, I had no idea I could write > 7,000 words in one day (a personal best).

In just one week of NaNoWriMo, here is what I have learned:

  • At no point in my life can I ever again utter the phrase, “I just can’t find the time to write.” That, to put it bluntly, is bullshit. I’m working the same job for the same amount of hours this week as I was two weeks ago. I still have the same social obligations. I haven’t missed anything important that I normally do. The difference is that I didn’t find time to write; I made time to write. I get up a couple of hours early in the morning and I write. Instead of futzing around on Facebook, Twitter, LiveJournal, YouTube, Google+, and GoodReads during my “free time,” I write. During lunch when I would normally read a book after finishing my meal, I write. When I come home from work, instead of relaxing with a DVD or reading or listening to podcasts, I write. Do you see a pattern? I certainly do. The thing that is important to me—writing—is what I’m spending time on. Anything less important goes bye-bye. I reiterate that during this week, I did not miss one single social event. I attended both writers group meetings, went to a party, socialized with my housemate, socialized with people at work, spent time with my cats, listened to some podcasts (but only in the car or while working when I cannot otherwise write), kept up in a limited way on Facebook… I intend to attend three writers group meetings this week as well as working an extra hour at work for monthly maintenance on some servers I’m responsible for. But right under all of that on my priorities is writing.
  • Never again will I be able to utter the phrase “I just don’t have any ideas.” That is also bullshit. The trick isn’t having ideas, it’s turning them off. The truth is, I get ideas for stories all the time. Usually I dismiss them because they aren’t something I want to write right now or don’t go with anything I’m working on. Sometimes I write them down for ‘later,’ but we all know ‘later’ is never coming. Well, I needed 26 fresh ideas for NaNoWriMo and with the exception of a few tough letters of the alphabet, the problem hasn’t been finding an idea, it’s been finding a good one among all the crappy ones. For ‘S’ as an example, I had to sift through Sulfur, Saturn, Sinister, Silo, Silver, Sylph, Sand, Scraps, Solid…for each word that occurred to me, the tiny sliver of an idea would come with it. Was Silver a story about werewolves? Did Solid involve an alien able to exist in any state of matter? Did Silo have to do with an abandoned missile silo in a post-apocalyptic world? Maybe. Some of the others were probably just as good. But when Skullcosm finally came to me, I knew that was my S-word. And even inside that world, the story itself could take any of a number of shapes, one of which I’ll pick. Perhaps at the moment of coming up with a character name on the morning of the 19th. So, yeah. I have ideas. I just discard most of them. This week has taught me that some of those stories should probably get written sooner and not later, and certainly not never.

I also know that I cannot sustain 6000+ words per day. It is too wrist-intensive for one thing, but it also promotes quantity over quality, which is just fine and dandy for NaNoWriMo; not at any other time, however. Sure, there’s something to be said for getting a story down that’s way too long and then whittling away all the parts that aren’t the story I want to tell and leaving the only the bits that are behind. And that will most certainly be done with each of these when November is in the rearview and Christmas is hurtling ever closer.

December is always about the loss of momentum for me. NaNoWriMo is over! Whew! Time to parTAAAAAY! And by ‘parTAAAAAY’ I mean goof off. But I am going to try to make an effort to at least keep the momentum going.

Sometime in December, I’ll be recording myself reading one of my stories for a podcast. I haven’t decided which one, yet, but I’m heavily leaning on “D Is for Dragon” or “G Is for Gravesite” right now. It’s a pretty low-key podcast called The Quillian Chronicles, and is produced by members of my Second Life writers group as a way to foster participation by producing our stories in audio format for free distribution to the listening public.

Have I mentioned that I loathe the sound of my recorded voice? <sigh>

  1. I had a false start with this one and got 617 words in before realizing I had started at the wrong spot and with the wrong POV, so I started over. I count the 617 words in my total word-count (this is NaNoWriMo and every word counts), but not in the story total given here.

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