NaNoWriMo 2011 – From Week Two to the End

NaNoWriMo 2011 week two, or as I shall hereby refer to the 45th week of 2011, ‘ The week that won it’.

I’m sure you can guess why, if you can’t, or even if you can because I want to show off, as of Sunday 13th November I hit 50,000 words (50,443 to be precise). Can’t validate until the 25th November, but still after falling short two years running, to hit a second week finish feels great.

I can tell you, it was quite a buzz to hit the 50,000 mark, and I didn’t stop there. Week three saw me push on with the aim of hitting 75,000 words, including “The end.” Want to know how that went? Well I did that too. Though, it was a bittersweet second victory, someone I loved dearly passed away on the Saturday, and I contemplated on just stopping with 8,846 words still to go. That wasn’t the memory I wanted to have of someone I love passing, and though it was a slog, I finished at 75,114 on day 21.

So, the last step of the immediate NaNoWriMo process is to validate your win. And I did.


So there you go – I officially win this year’s NaNoWriMo. I have a badge to prove it.

However, I have decided that there is more to NaNoWriMo than simply writing 50,000 words though – that’s goal number one, with a couple of sub-goals that are worth noting. Below I’ve listed important steps in the writing process as I see them right now, (I reserve the right to grow as a writer and evolve these later*).

 

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NaNoWriMo 2011 – Week One

So this time last year was an unmitigated disaster, and it’s telling there weren’t any more weekly posts after week one last year. This year I’m singing a different tune.

I’ll go into stats and numbers later on in this posts, however right now day six has just finished, and I finished it at 22,056. I’m not starting with any other number than that purely because I just want to take a moment to enjoy it. To bask in it.

Why because by Thursday, though I was over performing the 1,667 daily weird count by a few hundred our so each day I didn’t think I’d do it. I was behind on my pre-NaNoWriMo schedule that I’d set. Now I’m a tough scheduler, when setting them, but I do my best to make them easy to adjust when inevitably underachieve, which I was doing.

So what changed? Friday I went into the #NaNoYorks chatroom and met some lovely fellow participants, and we challenged and encouraged each other. As a result Friday I hit the 10k mark, and that felt great, I was start to build some steam, and have a buffer against a bad day.

Saturday was even better, had a great write-in in Leeds city centre, meeting many of the people I’d been in chat with the night before, and some familiar faces from previous years. Drank lots of tea, and wore a lot of words. That wasn’t enough though, so I was back in chat Saturday night, and when I was struggling to motivate myself and get started again I was given a prod or two and made it to 16k, and that felt great too.

Carried on after midnight too with some hardcore NaNoWriMo’ers  still doing word wars until 3am. Wasn’t quite as much written in those hours, but it did nicely.

Sunday evening it was a similar tale until midnight, it’s with their help that achieved my 22k.

It’s a genuine pleasure to be part of a community of writers all working towards the same goals, even if we all do so at faster and/or slower paces than myself. We all enjoy writing, talking about our writing, and other topics when we need a break.

I’ll be spending a lot more time in chat and won’t be skimping in write-ins, after payday will be going to more than just Leeds ones, I’d like to goto a Huddersfield one, and one in Scarborough (as post of a weekend writing by the sea).

So anyway, I’m feeling positive, and am hoping to get to 50k by mid-month so I can enjoy the pleasure of writing with less pressure for the rest of the month. The more I write the more options i’ll have in editing in January, and hopefully I can carry the form in December and redo the works in progress I mentioned in previous posts.

Anyway, six days in I’m getting good stats now from my tracking spreadsheet:

Words so far: 22,056
Total hours writing: 26
Avg Words Per Day: 3676
Avg Hours Per Day: 3.12

Avg Words Writing Per Minute: 15.25
Avg Words Per Hour: 915
Max Words Per Minute in a Single Session: 49.3

Avg Morale Per Day: 7 (a qualifiable number based on how I feel each writing period, or out of 10)

Number of Words Remaining: 27,944
Number of Days Remaining: 23
Number of Hours Remaining: 28.00

Those stats may not mean much to most people, but to me they’re a story that is unfolding as I do this project. For instance the average words per minute has risen by five since Friday which tells me that when I suit down and write I’ve been more focused and am starting to spend less time looking at a blinking cursor. Which is a very good story if you’re me.

I’ll stop feeling now and get on with writing. Here’s hoping for continued successes.

Tools for NaNoWriMo 2011 (Planning)

So I’ve talked about the planning I’ve done and am still doing for NaNoWriMo but not about how I’m going to be working.

First of there’s how I’ve done the planning. There are obvious tools such as the browser I’ve done online research from (Firefox on my PC, and Dolphin Browser on my phone), and then sites such as Wikipedia,  space.about.com, and news websites (for the latest science and technological developments and theories). Nothing ground breaking there, I’ve been using a lot of science based sites to flush out details I can populate my universe with, but some sites on the history of piracy, and 16th, 17th, and 18th century naval life.

That’s all great but once I’ve got it, whether it’s snippets or whole articles I need to store it so that I can access it again, preferably offline so I’m not distracted by the internet later on. For this I use Microsoft Office OneNote – something I’ve had for ages but never gotten round to exploring for writing. It’s good, I’ve two projects on there, one for all that juicy research, the other for character bio’s and scene/locales.

I’m also using an app on my phone called Thinking Space (I’m using the pro version, but the free version doesn’t restrict you other than listing some screen retail to ads). This is a mind mapping (or brain storming if you want to call a spade a spade) tool, it’s a lot lower on detail than one note but has the advantage of quickly summarising thoughts and ideas and showing how things are interconnected. It’s in Thinking Space I’ve also mapped out the structure of the story, so I can clearly see what each chapter needs to include to feed events four or five chapters further into the story, and ultimately the end. Hopefully it means no loose ends at the end, and if I can keep it up to date it gives me a to-do list of changes I need to make in editing if things happen later in the story that weren’t originally part of the plan and need supporting events.

Other basics in the planning stage include Microsoft Word, Notepad, and a calculator. Then there’s my Kindle, where I’ve been reading plenty of similar sci-fi, and piracy novels. They’d also a few travel guides on there as this is an interplanetary novel each location needs to be distinct but something that can be related to by the Earth found denizens of today’s earth. It helps to borrow from out countries, cities, and cultures to enrich my fictional universe, lest everything in the universe somehow looks and feels like Leeds.

Add into that Google Sky Maps, Google Translate, and we’ve pretty much got everything I need for a space based science fiction story.

These are the tools I’ve used fire the planning, and they’ll be reused in the writing stage, but added to by things that are geared to better improve my writing, speed me up, andkeep me going. I’ll cover those in a subsequent post dedicated to that subject. I’ll do one in January to show the tools I’ll use to edit this story. For other novels I’ll try different tools and review them.

Nanowrimo Day One

Day one… is done.
I’m not going to bore you and me with daily NaNoWriMo updates – I’ll keep it weekly.  However as the first day is over, I thought I’d give it a start.
So my thoughts on my NaNoWriMo project so far – I suck. Okay, it’s not that bad, I’m  well past the 1,667 word standard target for day one, however I wanted to blast it. My  personal schedule called for 6,000 words. In the end, when I finished last night I was  at 3,062 words. I should be happy with that, but I’m not.
See the problem is, I got home from work, (and I’d been successfully writing on my  phone on the way home), and just went pfft. I got distracted by the interwebs,  television, food, reading the news. So what I need tonight is a digital coccoon to stop  this happening again. Going to need it to, as I’d really like to make the Herculean effort  to get back on track, (according to my schedule for the early push by the end of today I  need to be pushing 10l to 11k). However, that’s probably not reasonable, so if I write  6,000 words today, I will allow myself to get back online. Though from this point  onwards I’ll only be recording the shows I like, I’ll wait until I hit 50k to watch them, (I  actually prefer watching multiple episodes back to back anyway, you get to to see arcs  developing better than if watching them one by one.
After today the schedule, aside from weekends, becomes a lot less punishing – that’s  why a good strong early push is so important.
Okay, aside from my crap ability to focus after a days work, and my inability to resist  the temptation of other forms of entertainment,  the story itself is going pretty good.  I’ve got a pretty good idea where I’m going still, we’ve not gone completely off plan  (though I used more words than I anticipated in the first section – I can easily see in  editing that the word count in that chapter alone will drop 25-50% but I’m not too  worried about that now). I’m now on the second chapter, and I’m pushing hard at the  world building, because chapter one was too limiting an environment to build up the  world the story takes place. Chapter two is a little cruise, several meet and greets,  and  just a tinge of excitement, as a preview of what is to come as the story progresses to  the thirdhalf way point.
That’s actually a little bit of an issue, but again I’m pusing it aside until the editing  process – I think the plan I have flows pretty well, but it does trouble me that the main  events of the story line don’t happen till late on – with feeder events earlier on building  up to it. However, if it doesn’t work I’ll worry about it in editing, because it’s too late to  go back now, and if I go off plan I’ll probably lose the thread in my head.
This of course makes sense to me, but I offer no guarentees anyone else will  understand a word of this.
So, do I feel confident after just one day? Despite not being where I want to be, the  likelihood is I will finish this year, I do have a plan, I’ve got a cast of characters, yet still  there’s plenty of room for my own creativity.
I was going to throw in all sorts of random stats, such as I’ve spent around 4 hours 37  minutes writing, currently averaging 15 words per minute (including the time I’m sat  looking at the screen trying to motivate myself to put words down), at my current rate  there’s 59 hours writing to go, and as things stand now (with only a part day done on  the second day),  should finish on or around the 27th November), however I just could  find a seemless way to fit them into this post, so you’ll have to wait till I’ve got a few  days worth of stats.

And we’re off…

Right now, this very moment I’m opening up my laptop putting my fingers to the keys and getting started on the actual writing of my NaNoWriMo novel.

I’m only going to do an hour’s writing, I have to go to work in the morning afterall. After work the aim is three to four hours solid writing while the passion is there. All being well I can clear 10% on the first day, get off to a great start and ride out the rest at a fairly comfortable rate. Or panic write over half the word count in the last weekend, (though hopefully not).

I’ve also got a new spreadsheet which is based on spreadsheet that Erik Benson created (I found out via Google at http://erikbenson.com/nanowrimo-report-card.xls). I’ve modified it with a few macro’s to create a more accurate log of my time and writing style.  Hey, what can I say, I’m a stats geek, and honestly believe the better I understand how I write, the better I’ll be as a writer.

I need to fix a few things, but I’ll post it up when it’s done.

I’ve set myself a gruelling schedule, but it’s designed to slip and be rescheduled, though I’m going to really push the early word count.

So if anyone is hoping for any sense from me for the next thirty days, good luck with that.