Sunday, November 27, 2011

NaNoWriMo Foursies and Looking Ahead

This blog post is all about what many believe is the hardest part of NaNoWriMo (hereafter NaNo)--the dreaded fourth week, when nearly a month's worth of frantic scribbling, missed sleep, and fraying nerves combine to wreck many an author's progress.

Nah, just playing. If you made it past week three you're probably over the mid-novel hump and headed into the homestretch. It only gets easier from here on out. You've tuned up your engine to a steady rumble, the words are flowing, and all your worries are over.

So, without further delay, first things first--I really, really hope everyone's NaNo is going as well as mine. I am currently around 57k, and over 2/3rds of the way through my MS. I have already won, according to the official goal of NaNo (50k.) I should hit my personal par of 60k in 2 more days, ahead of schedule. Finishing my MS will likely take another week or so, so I am a little behind there. I blame this on the three extra chunks I've added.

I am extremely excited to have made it this far, and also very proud of myself for the official win. Less than a month ago writing a novel, of any length or quality, seemed like a monumental task. Now it just seems like another thing I can do if i put my nose to the grindstone. This new self-confidence will serve me well when I start the next MS. Yep, you heard me right. This is just the first of many books I hope to write.

All of this goes to Goals and Intentions, which is one of the things I want to highlight today. As the actual writing has gotten easier, I have had more mind-space available to figure out where to go next. My original intent for this NaNo, which I wasn't at all sure I could accomplish, was to finish a novel-length MS, no more and no less. I will have done this very soon, I am absolutely confident of that now. So what am I going to do with the MS, and what am I going to do next?

I am not sure if the MS is good enough to be worth going back and editing into a coherent first draft (this is a zero draft, remember.) Even so, I will likely go ahead and do that anyway, for practice if nothing else. I've learned a huge amount about story-telling and structure from this process, I intend to apply that to my next MS by doing a much more in depth outline beforehand. In the interest of practice, once again, I plan on going back and drafting an outline of the current MS, as well as every kind of story analysis I can think of.

Basically, I want to use this work as a springboard to a better understanding of noveling as a whole. It took me several short stories to even begin to be happy with my short story skills, I don't see any reason that novel writing should take any less effort.

Last week I said that 2k a day was burning me out, and i didn't think it was sustainable. I've reversed my opinion on this. In short, practice may not have made perfect, but it sure has made easier. I've also seen the quality of my writing improve, becoming much closer to finished quality. The latter portions of this MS will require less editing than the beginning chunks.

All of this is great, because I intend to be a fast, prolific writer, as well as a good one (no modesty there, huh?) The only way to write both fast and well is to practice writing both fast and well. Not that I'm there yet, but I hope to get there.

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you sit in a chair and stare at a computer screen for hours a day, refusing to get up until you finish your wordcount.

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