Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How Did Your NaNo Go?

I'm very curious about how NaNo went for our blog friends. So many of you participated, and now that it's all over, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Did you reach your goals?
What did you learn from the process?

I'll tell you a dirty secret. I signed up for it this year, under a code name :) and failed miserably. I wrote a total of about three thousand words. But I learned a few things. I learned that if I make a decision to write, even if only for ten minutes a day, I generally stick to it. I learned that the people in my house are far more likely to interrupt my writing time than my editing time (though they're perfectly willing to interrupt both). I learned that my local library has a lovely writing space in which I can be reasonably productive, and that I'm generally unwilling to break up my day by going there. I learned that if I write before I edit, my editorial work is affected, but if I edit first and write later, everything is fine.

So what about you?


Wes said...

"I learned that if I write before I edit, my editorial work is affected, but if I edit first and write later, everything is fine."

Very interesting. I always had the sense that my experience was the reverse. Now I've got to think about it and reassess.

Unknown said...

I ended up with about 18k of new words that aren't so broken they can't be worked with, and revised another 44k on top of that. So I'm not an official winner by any stretch of the NaNo rules, but I'm feeling like it was a success anyway.

Even more of a win: I didn't hit the end of the month and stop. (-:

Laura K. Curtis said...

I do NaNo every year, but I don't win. I don't really set out to "win," I set out to write more words than I usually would. This year I hit 20k words in November, which--given what my November looked like--is pretty darn good. I *like* doing NaNo for two reasons:

1) It gives me an excuse to take one month off my current WIP while still writing.

2) It gives me a good chunk of words on a new project so that when I finish the WIP I am on, I have something to move to that's not a blank page.

I'm now on a "MyNoWriMo" month because I am determined to finish my current WIP by the end of the year so I can get it off to my agent, which means I still have to write a thousand words a day.

Liralen said...

My goal was to get 50,000 words that weren't entirely horrible. I succeeded (yay!), though it's going to take, erm, quite a bit of revision before it's anything that I'm willing to share with any of the people who are pressuring me to let them read it.

When I set this particular goal, though, I had to recognise that I was only going to accomplish so many words if I didn't take the writing seriously - I had to deliberately lower my expectations (about quality of writing) and just have fun.

When I write I tend to go for either quantity or quality, I'm afraid - I can get down five pages of something I'm proud of, no problem, but fifty pages of anything, good or bad, and help! Help! So even though my NaNo project was definitely on the side of quantity, it was nice to prove to myself that I can write that much if I put my mind to it.

Now it's just a matter of melding quantity and quality...

Ian said...

I have done NaNo every year since 2004, and I have set out to win every time - why take on a challenge you don't plan to win? For the sixth year in a row, I succeeded in completing at least 50k words. This year, I averaged nearly 2300 words a day to finish with just a smidge under 69k - my most productive NaNo ever. I had extra inspiration this year agent has an editor who wants to see this one when it's done. :)

I find I get my best work done between 4:30 and 6:30 AM.

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I made it by the skin of my teeth, but the novel isn't finished yet. I switched back and forth between projects early on and that didn't work at all. To write that fast, I really need to concentrate on a single work, and it's best if I have at least the turning points and ending well in hand.

Joan Mora said...

I committed to 30,000 words (within my writing group) and started NaNo with a project that was partially written, but struggled with trying to hurry it along. So after 3,200 words, I set it aside to start something new and that seemed to free me to write quickly. I ended up with just over 16,000 total, but I also revised a manuscript and sent it out on submission, so I do feel productive for November. Oh, and took a week off to visit relatives.

My largest daily count was 2,100, and many worth keeping. Here's what I learned: If I write 2,100 a day, 5 X a week, even if I take 6 weeks off, I'll have 483,000 words, about 6 80,000-word books. Not bad.

Edittorrent said...

Wes, maybe it's because my job is editing, but I was paying close attention to how the writing affected my productivity. I have to put the editing first. Bills to pay, etc.

Edittorrent said...

Laura, what an interesting idea. If you have a hard time starting, I think this is an excellent way to get around that little block.

Joan, does that formula leave you with enough time to revise and edit? Or pre-plan? Or research? I ask because I'm interested in hearing how a 6-book-a-year author might balance that schedule.

I'm very impressed by all the numbers being posted. Gold star to tibicen for keeping it going!


Shelby said...

I was a nanowrimo winner.. first time to sign up and first time to win. Now on to the re-writes. It was great fun.

Crittias said...

I'm a municipal liaison for my town, so I'm heavily involved in NaNo. We had 36 winners out of 87 active participants. Not bad!

I've won NaNo 5 times. This year I'm at 65k for the month, with another 15k or so before my first draft is done. Every year, the quality of the work improves, and getting to 50k gets easier. It's not for everyone, but I think it's definitely a viable way of getting a first draft on paper.

MeganRebekah said...

I had to breakup with NaNo. It was very sad, and probably a little harsh, since our breakup was very public and even posted on my blog :)

Joan Mora said...

Oh--I guess I should have put a wink by my calculations! I think creativity would suffer with that output (and my family would disown me). My pace is about a year to write a book I'm happy with and then about six months to revise it. But I also do projects with a co-writer, so we have one joint and one solo going on at once.

Taylor Mathews said...

I was a winner, as well. With three kids (aged 3 and twin 1 year olds) time is short, but I found a way to multi-task two important things: my exercise and my goal of 1700 words a day. The solution was walking at a moderate pace on the treadmill while typing away at my make-shift treadmill desk. It isn't nearly as hard as it sounds and it actually helped me focus on my writing (plus I don't have internet in the basement where the treadmill is located). That, and I moved my kids' bedtime up a half-hour to give me an extra edge.

All in all, it was my first NaNo and will definitely be something I will repeat next year.

Andrew Rosenberg said...

I definitely hit my goal, although I didn't quite hit my word count. That's okay--leaves more room for revision.

I wrote a huge blog post about it, but to summarize, I found that plotting works really well for me, more than I thought, and didn't stifle my creativity in the least. By creating a framework, I forced myself to cut out anything that didn't move the story forward. So there are a lot of issues I need to work through, but I feel like I have a workable draft (for once).

Leona said...

I wrote a summary earlier, but here's the gist. First time, 64009, fantasy rough draft finished.

Using the tips here, like making comments for future reference, helped me get past the part that slows me down. I can write a book in a month because I can type fast and I still have too many stories in my head for dead space.

My problem lies in the editing... My brain says, hey, you need to know X and then X and so on and so forth. Making the comments really helped. I wouldn't forget them and I paid attention to them so they weren't ignored and let me keep moving on with the story.

I blogged 30 times in Nov. The only other time I came close was June when it was new. Nanowrimo really helped me to get into a groove and blogging and reading blogs strictly regarding the writing business helped me "get in the mood" so to speak.

It's a very rough draft and I have a lot of fine tuning to do, but it will be a saleable story when finished.

I also did a rewrite that I cut 2k out of and added 6k back (so my actual word count for november was 70k :) that is currently in my personal editing process.

My husband is taking my writing very seriously now. He never made fun of me or anything and is, in fact, my best editor as he critiques well. The thing is I did the 50K goal despite hardships. As he put it, you've had these goals before and things got in the way. This time, those same kind of things happened and you still did it. I'm proud of you :) Felt good!!

I'm writing/editing/researching now and getting ready for a book signing, so word count is low per numbers but my dedication is set now. I have a plan and a routine now and that's the best thing Nanowrimo did for me.

Sarah Ahiers said...

i hit 50k after about day 19 or so, though the story needs another 30-50K before i reach the end. This was my first year and i did it mostly as an excuse to take a break from my WIP (a WIP i should really just put away).

I learned that i can easily write about 2k in an hour, and this hour i can easily stick in my day after work, so there's no reason for me not to be more productive than i have been lately.

Edittorrent said...

I love hearing all of these success stories. Look at all this positive energy generated by NaNo! Look at how much artistic growth you've experienced as a group! It's really impressive.

Taylor Taylor, you might think that's not as difficult as it sounds, but you're talking to a woman who has fallen off the treadmill more times than she ought to admit. I'm not clumsy. I'm just prone to distractions, and not in a good way. So your method makes me think you have a special gift for coordination and focus!

Iapetus999, it sounds as though you learned something important about your process. That was the most useful part of NaNo for me -- not the actual writing part, because there was precious little of that. (Makes me respect my authors all the more. Writing is hard, dude. Especially when you have things like jobs and kids and a life.)


Anonymous said...

I wrote about 4000 words too. What I learned is November is the worst month to try to write 50000 words due to the upcoming holidays. (I own a costume design business, and who knew November would be so busy?)

Last year I managed 11k words, but didn't have any shows to costume. This year I had 2.

Laura K. Curtis said...

Cotton -

I totally understand. November is a busy month for me, too, as I have trade shows going on for "real work" that take me out of town. So it's bad. I really only have about 15 days to write, so I figure my 20k output is pretty good. The only other month that's as bad for me as November is March.

Clare K. R. Miller said...

This year I didn't decide I was going to do NaNo until day 4, and I still won with a full day to spare. Because that's how I roll. (I've attempted and won Nano four times before, and the fourth time I started over a week in because I realized my original idea just wasn't working for me. No, it's not much of a challenge anymore, which is why I didn't do it last year and didn't plan to this year--but it's fun!) Oh, and I also wrote a couple thousand words or so on my weblit so I could update that occasionally during the month.

I only managed the 50k with a substantial amount of fluff and letting one character tell a story to another, but I still ended up with a reasonably cohesive novella that I can edit, which is all I wanted.

Elizabeth Lynd said...

I finished up on November 29 with 50,839 official words, and spent the 20th NOT writing!

The book I got out of it is going to have a LOT culled from those 50K words. And it needs another 50K or so added, story that I have the idea for but not a word written yet.

But what I got from NaNo was great. I wrote nearly every day, something I (many of us) struggle with, proving that despite procrastination and excuses and life, it can be done. By me. Yes, I can.

I also wrote straight to the computer (both my PC and laptop), something I had in my head I couldn't do. (I usually write longhand, and first revision is transcription.) That lesson learned was worth the ten years my face aged during the month. (The first part was the worst, and my face has mostly recovered, thank goodness. But for a while the online dictionaries surely featured my photo next to both "haggard" and "hag.") And I got a novel (actually two!) out of it, stories that at first I didn't think would survive 2009, but will. And I'm even happy--more than happy--with both ideas and much of the writing I've got. So a great end to the year and beginning of the upcoming one.

And I did it. That alone was just great. I can't say I had the euphoria I've heard many describe when the official counter lit up with my "winner" status, but a good satisfaction of committing and completing is nice. It's an accomplishment forever. I wrote a novel in a month. It's not done, and it's not yet great, but like a hundred pushups in two minutes that the recruit manages just once even if never again, I did it.

Congrats to all the others who made it, and to those who didn't. We are all of us writers, we who do indeed write.

Amy said...

I learned that I can actually write something that is not total drivel and makes some amount of sense. I also learned that I like to stay up until 3 am writing because the house is quiet and peaceful.

Mostly I learned that I can be proud of the accomplishment even if nothing comes from it afterwords, and 53,430 words is a lot of typing.

Tricia said...

After 26,000 words my first novel ended (so it wasn't really a novel). I wrote another one. Ended up with 65,000 words.

Nov. makes me excited to submit other things.

This year I started using the word wars and that helped me focus on my writing. I usually typed 400-450 in the 15 min. wars and 1200ish in the 30 min. wars.

This was my 4th year participating 3rd win.

Ruth Donnelly said...

I won for the third time, but this year the novel is nowhere near finished--LOTS more to do.