NaNoWriMo: Winning and Losing Some

Well, it’s November 27. There are three and a half days left in November, and I’ve written about 36,000 words since the beginning of the month. (Not counting blog posts.)

NaNoWriMo, of course, is an orgy of typing with the goal of writing 50,000 words of new fiction during the thirty days that November hath. At this point, I’ll be doing very well to produce 43,000 words by midnight on the thirtieth. So, I guess I’m going to lose.


I actually like the way the story is going. The characters are branching out and showing me new facets of their personalities that tend to get them into (and out of) more complicated problems.* The plot is barreling along toward the end point I want it to reach. The setting grows more detailed the more I describe it. I like it.

And beyond that, I’ve learned a few helpful things about my own writing habits. Iff (that’s not a misspelling; it stands for ‘if-and-only-if’) I write for several hours every single day, I can expect to produce between one and two thousand words of pretty good prose most of the time.

Yay! Whoopee! Happy dance! Pause while I turn a dozen or so cartwheels!

Okay, I’m back. So, all I have to do is continue pounding away for two to four hours a day, and there’s a good chance I’ll have this story finished – not merely up to a word count of fifty thousand, but finished – by Christmas. And at that point, with perhaps a twelve-day pause, I can plunge into the revisions that it will definitely need; but the basic initial cliff will have been climbed, and I can stand on top of it looking over the landscape of my very own creation.

Well. Enough bragging. But I am very very pleased right at the moment.

* And a note on the great NaNo debate between “plotters” and “pantsers”. Some people – the plotters – like to work out all the details of their story ahead of time. Others – the pantsers – prefer to let things develop organically while they write by the seat of their pants. (I’m a pantser by instinct, though I’ve come to realize that it helps to start with an overall structure in mind.) We pantsers tend to suspect that too much advance planning results in a dull slog of uninspired typing and a lifeless final result. The plotters, on the other hand, tend to accuse us of being delusional and thinking that our made-up characters and places and situations have some sort of real, independent existence outside our own heads.

And we do often talk that way. I’d say that what we really mean – at least, it’s what I mean when I talk about my characters “deciding” to do something unexpected – is that the problem-solving part of my mind has gone off incommunicado for a while and returned with a way of continuing the story which takes the more accessible part by surprise.

But it’s a lot more economical to just say that my guy Wilm is running into some unexpected problems because he can’t keep his nose out of other people’s secrets and has found out things he wasn’t supposed to.

12 responses to “NaNoWriMo: Winning and Losing Some

  1. Take a bow for accepting the challenge. Applause!!!!!

  2. Congrats are in order. Writing that much and learning about your writing is what it’s all about

  3. Nice work, Sharon! I’m at the 43K count only because I wrote against nature and out of order, shoving in (pointless) background info that will mostly be cut in edits. It’s no small feat to even get this far, though. And, having “won” for a few years but only about half as often finished the project, I can say finishing the story is worth more than any word count.

    • 43K – good for you!! I wrote out of order too, to some extent – when I ran into parts of the story I hadn’t worked out how to write, I jumped somewhere else for a while and let the problem with the first part work itself out in the background. And I completely agree with your point about finishing versus writing a set number of words! 🙂

  4. Well done Sharon,I think I’m a pantser too 🙂 but no, not a nanwrimo-er!

  5. yes but then you will have a book, with a little polishing 🙂

  6. Well done Sharon! I don’t think I’ve heard you sound so happy. I’d go as far as to say giddy. I’m looking forward to reading the book 🙂

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