Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Counting Progress

NaNoWriMo can be used to create a good habit - writing every day - but it can also create some bad habits.  Namely, what you consider to be progress, and how you judge yourself.

I'm struggling with this right now.  I've had to take a break in writing to work on some research, and it feels like getting nothing done.  NaNoWriMo teaches you to only count actual words written as progress, and researching means no writing is getting done.

But research is still important, and I didn't want to waste time writing a few very specific scenes without doing some research first.  I also didn't want to keep going with the rest of the novel - which NaNoWriMo encourages, in order to prioritize the writing of words - and have to come back and research and write these scenes later, when I'm not in the flow of the story any longer.  (I'm a fairly linear writer, and typically write in order of how I envision things happening in the book.  This is different from writing in order of how things happen, because, for instance, I write flashbacks when the flashback happens in the story, rather than when it happened before the story took place.)

So I don't have much progress showing on my graph for a few days, but that's okay, because I was working on my novel during that period.

I've also been allowing myself breaks on the weekend, but that's a subject for another post.

Friday, December 1, 2023

My Writing Life Post-NaNo

NaNoWriMo is over!  I got all of the badges except for the one for writing par (1,667 words every day), but that's okay with me.  My own success was much more notable than that: I never once fell below the daily par, and I worked on it every single day, not even missing Thanksgiving.  Those are both accomplishments that I've never managed before, and I've been doing NaNoWriMo since 2006.

My final word count for the month was 51,767, after I wrote 1,500 words at our "final push" write-in last night.  Of course, that includes 36 hours of revision work, which took up the majority of the month, but it was necessary to pick my story back up where I left off.

Today I added back in all of the previous words I'd written and disregarded during NaNoWriMo.  The revised part I wrote last year, plus the new part of the story written this year add up to a surprising 72,030 words.  I didn't realize the novel had gotten so long!  This is especially concerning since I feel like I'm only about halfway through the story.  There are section in the part I've already written that could be cut if the word count gets to be too long, but first I want to finish it and see what the final length is like.

I created a new goal for the month of December, with the hopes of finishing the novel by the end of the year.  I set the goal for 100,000, despite some internal debate about increasing that to 120,000.  I ultimately decided that I'd rather set the goal for 100,000 and overshoot it, than to set it for 120,000 and fall short.  I think the final word count will probably be closer to 120,000, but I'm considering that the upper end of the range instead of a goal.

Ostensibly, my goal will be to write at least 1,000 words a day, with hopefully more than that on "good" days.  Hopefully that will get me through the end of the novel by the end of the year, and early next year I can work on revising.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

NaNoWriMo 2023 WINNER!

I said in my NaNoWriMo week 4 post yesterday that I would likely be getting to 50,000 in the next couple of days, but actually I got there last night.  I had my doubts, since I knew I would need to write 2,324 words at our write-in, and with the write-in only being two hours, I wasn't sure I'd be able to get there.  But I did!  I stopped at 2,326 words for the day - 50,002 words total for November.

Of course, many of those "words" are not actually words, but time spent revising.  I decided to equate an hour of revision time with 1,000 words.  I can actually write more words than that in an hour when I'm on a really good streak (as I did last night), but it seems like a nice, easy, round ballpark number, so I've always used it when I've spent NaNoWriMo revising.

And of course, the novel isn't anywhere near done yet.  I estimate I am probably about 40 or 50 percent through the story, so I still have a lot to do.  I'll get an accurate word count for the existing draft so far once NaNoWriMo is over.  I'm anticipating the novel will be somewhere around 90,000 words when finished, which is about right for a novel of that type.

Only three more days left!  No pressure on how much word count I have to produce each day, and just three write-ins to go to: one at Barnes & Noble tonight, one at Panera tomorrow, and a "final push" write-in on Thursday at our favorite gaming coffee shop and longtime supporter of the Denver NaNos, Enchanted Grounds.

Monday, November 27, 2023

NaNoWriMo 2023: Week 4 Progress

Technically, tomorrow would be the end of week 4, so I'm writing this a couple days early.  But I expect to reach my goal tonight or tomorrow, so my next post will likely be a "winner" post.

I've done very well this year.  So far I haven't dropped below par once, which I don't think I've ever managed before; I've always gotten behind at some point during the month.  I also haven't gotten ahead much, but I'm okay with that.  Steady progress is good progress, and it gives me hope I won't burn myself out, either.  Quite to the contrary, I'm excited about my novel and the prospect of continuing to write after NaNoWriMo 2023 comes to a close.

Currently I have 2,324 words to write in order to make it to 50,000.  I have a write-in tonight, but it's only two hours, so I don't know if I'll be able to write over 2k words.  It depends on how motivated I am, how on time we are, and how much time I devote to writing rather than getting distracted.

Either way, either tonight or tomorrow night, I'll be "winning" NaNoWriMo 2023.

I have plans to continue writing after November ends.  I was looking at my calendar last night, and as I arranged my schedule for the first week of December, I made sure to put writing earlier in the day every day.  If I start with it, hopefully it will keep me motivated and ensure I stick to working on it every day.  I want to finish this novel, then start working on further revisions and other installments as I get it all ready for self-publication.

I've been thinking a lot about how this blog and my social media presence will change once I start gearing up to self-publish.  I intend to plan everything out, and my blog may undergo some changes as I prepare for release.  I'll update further once I finish the novel and have some time to start looking at the business side of things.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

NaNoWriMo 2023: Week 3 Progress

Today marks the end of week 3 of NaNoWriMo.  I still need to work on my novel today, but I am expecting tomorrow to be chaotic, so I wasn't sure when I would have a chance to blog about it tomorrow.

So far I've managed to hang on throughout week 3, but sometimes only by the skin of my teeth.  I've made an effort to get to par every day, but I'm still just making revisions.  I'm still counting every hour of work as 1,000 words, but I haven't done any actual writing yet this month... yet.

That being said, I'm putting in time on this novel and making progress, so I am okay with my NaNo Rebel status.  Plus, I'm making a significant effort not to fall behind par, and even if I'm counting par a little differently than most people, it still represents a consistent amount of work each day.

You can see my past weeks' progress here: week 1 and week 2.

Now is when we get to the difficult part, however.  Last year I managed to work on my novel every single day, except Thanksgiving.  This year I've actually done better than last year, and not only worked on my novel every day but met par every day.  (Last year there were some days where I did only a little bit just to get a word count for the day.)  This year I want that badge for updating every day, though, so I need to make sure I work on it Thanksgiving too.

To make it happen, I have a couple hours blocked off early Thursday afternoon for working on my novel.  Last year I intended to work on it after our Thanksgiving celebrations, but by the time I realized how much we'd lost track of time, it was after midnight so I couldn't get my update done in time.  Hopefully blocking off some time for it earlier in the day will ensure I don't make the same mistake this year.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

NaNoWriMo 2023: Week 2 Progress

Yesterday was the end of week 2 of NaNoWriMo.  So far, I'm trucking right along, staying ahead of par (just barely some days) and working on my novel consistently every day.

It's funny how last year I made almost daily posts for much of the month during NaNoWriMo.  This year there's no way I would have had the time for that.  I guess I'm busier this year.  But I don't mind, because at least I'm spending the time on my novel.  Prioritizing the time you have available is important.

Anyway, last night I finished reading through and marking the manuscript.  I had focused on copyediting and marking revisions in the portion of the manuscript from last year, but when I got to the older portions of the draft that I hadn't rewritten yet, I started focusing instead on story development.  There's a lot that needs to be wholly rewritten in the parts of the novel I haven't gotten to yet.

The good news is that it's all starting to come together, and I'm happy with the story development so far.  Tonight I start marking the revisions.

It's becoming obvious to me that if reading through the novel and marking revisions took two weeks, I'm not going to be finished writing the novel this month.  Which is fine, but I need to ensure that I keep my daily writing habit and keep working on the novel beyond November.  I want to finish this thing and get it published next spring or summer.

Making the revisions I'd marked in the portion of the third draft I'd written so far should go faster, since I'm not reading anything and just making the revisions I'd already marked.  Plus it's only about half the overall manuscript.  The other "revisions" are mostly major changes, and I can keep the PDF or the file with me while I rewrite those sections.

I haven't worked on it yet today so my word count is still where it was from yesterday's session, but we'll be going to a write-in tonight, where I'll start working on making the revisions in the novel.  Once I'm done making revisions, I'll be able to go back to writing the third draft, which is incredibly exciting, especially as the pieces of the story are falling into place in my head!

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

NaNoWriMo 2023: Week 1 Progress

I'm still working on revisions on the section of Ruby Ransome that I wrote last year during November and December, but for now, progress on my NaNoWriMo 2023 challenge is going well.  I've been counting an hour of revising as 1,000 words, which is less than what I'd get in word counts if I were writing, but I suppose marking revisions on the page is a little easier than straight up creating, so the reduced word count equivalent makes sense.  But also, 1,000 words makes for a really easy number to apply to my hours worked, since every 15 minutes equals 250 words.

Anyway, with that word count equivalent applied to my revising, I've succeeded in staying at or ahead of par every day for the first week of NaNoWriMo.  I haven't succeeded in putting two hours of work into it every day, as I would ideally have liked, but staying ahead of par is still good.

Right now, I would need another hour of work to stay ahead of par for today, but I actually hope to get two hours done at the write-in.  That would replace the little buffer that I've lost over the last few days.

Today marks the start of the second week of NaNoWriMo 2023.  I'm a little discouraged that I'm not done with revisions yet, but at the same time, I'm pleased with what I wrote last year.  I'm marking only a few changes as I go along.  For the most part, I'm very satisfied with both the setup and the pacing.  Currently I'm less than 30 pages from the end of last year's writing, after which I'll skim the rest of the older material to remind myself of what I'm rewriting and where I was going with it.

Hopefully I'll be ready to start writing new material again by the end of the week!


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