Well now, this puts a bit of a crimp in my blog posting…
I was to have spent November updating my NaNoWriMo progress, my efforts to reach 50,000 words. I figured I’d reach that goal before the 30th since my personal goal was to complete the book, which I estimated would be around 80k, but it’s gone even quicker than I expected.
After the biggest one day push of my life (over 7k) I passed 50k on the night of November 9th about ten minutes before it was time to update. My daily average is over 5k. Whew! I’m currently at 60,073 words on the morning of the 12th, not yet halfway through the month.
*I admit to having considerable time to write, time I bought with my ravaged lungs five years ago. Still, even with time each day my pace requires preparation and discipline. I’m exhausted (and excited!) and my erratic sleep is having a negative effect on my breathing.
This year has enabled me to view how I operate as a fantasy writer more clearly and thus far I’ve defined it as so:
Step One: Pantser Christina brainstorms ideas and creates scenes that she (what I sometimes call myself) breaks into pieces. She then rearranges, discards, and adds, sometimes recapturing discarded chunks. She also thinks about characters and has them interact in her head. Meanwhile, Plotter Christina works on maps, history, and researches.
Step Two: Pantser Christina and Plotter Christina get together, which doesn’t usually involve the phone or even Skype since they always live relatively close. Together, they develop the backstory and a loose, flexible outline. They also create profiles for the characters.
*Please note: Step two can sometimes be marred by arguing and insults I won’t repeat here, but it all works out because the conflict and tension add to the process.
Step Three: Pantser Christina sets to work writing the story while Plotter Christina monitors the outline and alerts her to possible difficulties. Too, each evening and early morning when Panster Christina is exhausted, Plotter Christina reevaluates their progress and notes if further work on the outline is required. Also, while writing Pantser Christina often has new ideas or expands on existing ones. When that happens she inserts them while writing or forwards them to Plotter Christina so she can work them into an updated outline (at this point they’re punch drunk and cooperating extremely well).
Step Four: Editing. Cat fight.
Ah, the life of a writer, where even doing your job is a psychiatrist’s worst nightmare, but also ensures they’ll have steady work for the next thirty years.
If you’re struggling at NaNo, keep going. Any writing furthers your writing experience and education. Too, pushing yourself both shuts down the internal editor and teaches you to streamline the process. It’s all worthwhile. Your word count isn’t the only benefit to NaNo, which is why I want to scream when someone quits the first week. It isn’t just about numbers!
I’m still learning. My past NaNo experiences helped train me for this year and my time writing in past years helped prepare me for my first NaNo. It’s all a process, not a one time roll of the dice.