This will never become a book.

2012 August 15 Wednesday

Letter to Home from a NaNoWriMo Camper

Filed under: writing — kdefg @ 23:10
My NaNoWriMo stats as a graph

It’s all about the little milestones.

Dear Blog,

Has it really been two weeks?  I didn’t think I’d make it this far.  Guess what? I have half a novel written now!

To be honest, it’s just the first half of a first draft, but it’s a start.  And I owe it all to Camp NaNoWriMo this year.

Well, maybe some thanks are due to circumstances that let me stay at home without a job.  It’s amazing how much more writing time I have when I have more free time in general.

I did get sidetracked for a day, gathering all of my stats from previous years and putting them into a spreadsheet.  (Thank you, Excel, for the graph!)  I thought I had done well in my first year (the cyan line), and knew I had done poorly the last two attempts (brown and purple), but seeing all the data together with this year’s word counts and the daily goals has renewed my hope to reach the finish line this year.  Let me share some numbers with you!

The yellow line represents the standard NaNoWriMo daily goals (for November, which has 30 days), and the magenta line is this month’s ideal progress (for August, which has 31 days).  My current progress is the aqua/teal line, frozen at the current point of 15 days.  If this were November, I should have reached 25,000 words by the end of today.  I came close (with 23,300), but more importantly, I have more words today at the halfway point than I have ever had by the end of an entire thirty days!

a graph of my NaNoWriMo progress over the years

When it comes to writing a novel on a deadline, having spare time helps. (click to zoom)

What makes this year different? I’m averaging 2-3 hours per day this year, and have had days with more than 4 hours of writing in total — but these hours are all broken up into half-hour spurts.  I’m continually taking breaks and wasting time on the computer doing other things.  But I also spend plenty of time thinking about my story and my characters, while I’m out for a walk or washing the dishes, and I don’t have stats to account for all of that creative effort.

Words on the page are easier to count than hours of thinking about the story, but churning the story over in my head feels more like what I imagine a writer’s work to be.  In NaNoWriMo terms, I’m more of a “pantser” than a planner, writing “by the seat of my pants” as they say, but this year I find myself projecting an actual plotline forward, and I can see pivot points that I want to aim for.   Although I started on Day One with little more than a premise, it has grown into something with a structure.

I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I think I just might “win” this year.  Then I’ll have to think about going back for edits and rewrites, maybe creating an outline and adding a subplot.  Oh my!

I remember when I used to think writing 500 words every day would be good for me, and then finding out how hard that was.  Ah, I remember those carefree days now.  Soon enough, August will be over, and I shall return to my random essays and fiction sprints.  Camp has been great, but I miss you, Blog.

Yours truly,  me.


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