#amwriting, anthology of short stories, Metahuman Press, nano project, NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, Novella, Pirates and Swashbucklers, productivity, Pulp Empires, word counts, Writers' Block, writing
Last year I posted about NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month for those of you who prefer their English unabbreviated. I talked about why I was not doing it and why that made me a heretic.
This year, in order to stay ahead of the curve and reveal my contrary nature, I opted to go ahead and do it. Because not doing it once and claiming you are doing so because it is cool not to is fine but there is no sense in repeating the pose for a second year. No sense in doing what people expect, always keep the audience guessing. 🙂
Actually, the main reason I opted to do it was to give myself a kick up the backside. Earlier in the year I had promised a publisher a complete anthology of short stories (well, one novella and some shorts) and had promised him delivery by a certain time. In the meantime, the deadline has whooshed past and I was still sat there with barely anything written and all of that painfully extracted over the course of several months. So, when November loomed I looked at my barely begun novella and decided that this would be my Nano project.
Of course, I still had the same problems as last year, which were my main reasons for not doing Nano. Work life balances getting all out of synch and all that. This time I even had a regular job to occupy me. I knew that 50K was unlikely to be a target I could aim for and still stay sane, married, healthy and employed. Instead, I opted for a lesser target. As things stood on my WIP I had just under 10K written already and I had predicted it to be about 30K when complete (various additional stories were planned to take the whole project to more than 50K, some of which had already been written and just needed tweaking). I therefore set myself two targets:
1) Write at least 20K words in order to get the total up to more than 30K
2) Complete the novella
By the end of NaNo I had written 20777 words which definitely achieved the first target and had put the novella to just under 30K words (close enough to be not worthwhile worrying about). However, I had not finished the novella…. the reason being that I realised that it is going to be a much longer story than I originally thought. I am almost at the end but there are at least another few thousand words to go and I am pondering additional scenes which may take it even higher than that.
So, I am counting my first NaNo experience as a win. I acheived one of my goals and only did not achieve the other because of changes in the goalposts. Not only that, but the process has reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the project which had been mired in the doldrums for far too long. In the course of writing I created a new character who I enjoy writing (he was intended to be an incidental local colour character, present for maybe a scene or two, but I ended up taking him further than that) and thought of some new plot ideas which I hope work. Of course, I have also produced something that is grammatically messy, likely filled with examples of bad writing and worse plot cliches but at least I have produced something and there is nothing that cannot be fixed in the edit.
Would I do it again in the future? Maybe. I suppose it would depend on the circumstances – am I working full time? Do I have a project that is languishing? I do think it was a good motivation tool and so worth doing on that basis alone. Not sure I would ever get to the point where I would ‘win’ NaNo but I am confident that it will be useful nontheless.