National Novel Writing Month: Pivot (day 19)

This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series National Novel Writing Month 2017

DAY NINETEEN

Written 20/11/2017 for 19/11/2017

Right, I talked about this in the last post.

I completed National Novel Writing Month’s 50,000-word target.

Now, it’s time to pivot.

However, the book, which is shaping up nicely in many ways (and is a fucking disaster in many others – such is a first draft) is not yet done.

With that in mind, I thought it would be silly to stop now when I still have every intention of finishing this book by the end of the month (gulp).

Now, moving past NaNoWriMo’s end goal means something of a change of strategy in terms of daily targets and the stats I present. Luckily, I have help on that front.

I use Scrivener to do all my writing (and you should too if you have a Mac, which you totally should) and this presents me with a number of handy stats, which I have supplemented with my own information.

Given a target word count and an end date, Scrivener will tell you how many words you need to write on any given day to finish your book on time. A word count, I might add, that automatically updates every day depending on how many words you have remaining.

Knowing how many scenes I have, I use a constantly updated word count, altering it after every scene by working out the average number of words I have written so far per scene and timesing this by the total amount of scenes.

So, check out yesterday’s stats for the following:

  • The current predicted word count of hthe whole book
  • The words count I needed to be at as of yesterday to be on track for finishing at the end of the month
  • The words written yesterday (spoiler alert, it was a good day)
  • The total words written in the projects
  • The number of words I am over the target total at that day
  • The average words I’ve written per day across the project
  • How many words are remaining.

Check it out

Estimated words to complete book: 94,000

Words for par, Day 19: 59,534

Words written: 10,365

Total words: 60,875

Words over Target: 1,341

Average per day: 3,203

Remaining: 34,466

It’s going well.

A big day yesterday. 10,000 words put me just over where I need to be as of yesterday, and it’s going to take at least 3,300 words today to keep myself there.

Being back at work today after a few days on holiday, this will be difficult, but let’s see how I get on

National Novel Writing Month Days 6-10

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series National Novel Writing Month 2017

DAY SIX

Written 07/11/2017 for 06/11/2017

I’m overextending myself.

I knew I would. I always do. I get too into it I love the writing and the blogging and the tweeting, so I just add more and more.

At the moment I write this diary thing when I get to work before I start. Then at lunch, I write for my Man vs Bookshelf blog (or read, if I need to). After dinner, I do my tweeting and FBing and write for my latest writing project, and then before I go to bed, I do my reading.

It’s too much; I know it is. If I get talking before work, or I go out to lunch at lunch, or I spend too long watching telly in the evening, suddenly, I’m behind. Even though I’m getting my Nano targets hit at the moment, I’m still never going to get the whole book finished this month, and that’s depressing enough.

But I don’t want to stop. I can’t stop. Stupid as it is I’ll keep pushing myself until it all collapses around my shoulders.

So, that should be fun…

But like I say, I’m still hitting my targets and yesterday, despite The Walking Dead being on, I managed to do it again:

Words to “win” NaNoWriMo: 50,000

Words for par, Day 6: 10,000

Words written: 1,795

Total words: 12,898

Words over Target: 2,898

Average per day: 2,149

Remaining: 37,102

Tonight I’m going to the cinema, so that’s fucked everything up.

I’m going to get home, have dinner, and try bang out another 1,800 words before I go. If I do it, fab, if I don’t, well, I’ll probably spend the whole film crying.

 

DAY SEVEN

Written 08/11/2017 for 07/11/2017

Last night was an adrenaline packed race against time.

It was like a Michael Bay film but with a story.

I arrived home from work at half six, and I had until seven forty-five before I would be picked up and taken to the cinema to see Thor: Ragnarok.

In that time I needed to prepare dinner, eat dinner, and do at least 1,800 words on my NaNo project.

A terrifying task, but I was ready.

I chopped potatoes like a madman. Sprinkled herbs and spices over them like I had an infinite supply. Chucked them in the oven like I was flinging a baby from a burning building. Then it was to the writing.

600 words before dinner was ready. Food and conversation with the girlfriend followed and then it was back to the keys, time slipping away like a bar of soap out of wet hands.

But could I make it?

Words to “win” NaNoWriMo: 50,000

Words for par, Day 7: 11,666

Words written: 1,831

Total words: 14,729

Words over Target: 3,063

Average per day: 2,104

Remaining: 35,271

In the end, I suffered a string of texts from my ride to the cinema, but I managed to get the words done, doing less than 50 more than yesterday, but also drawing slightly further ahead of the target.

It was always going to be tough, but I did it, and I’m hoping for at least 2,000 words tonight.

Before The Apprentice that is.

We’ll see how it goes.

 

DAY EIGHT

Written 09/11/2017 for 08/11/2017

I’m going to collapse.

I’m ploughing on. I posted my next Man vs Bookshelf blog yesterday, and I did my Nano words, but it came at a price.

I didn’t start writing till half eight; then I had to watch the Apprentice at nine. I got back to writing after but by the time I had done my words and tidied up etc. It was eleven o clock.

Eleven is the latest I like to be up, but I hadn’t even done my reading. By the time that was done, it was midnight.

Needless to say, I’m knackered today.

But at least I did my words, right?

Words to “win” NaNoWriMo: 50,000

Words for par, Day 8: 13,333

Words written: 1,875

Total words: 16,604

Words over Target: 3,271

Average per day: 2,075

Remaining: 33,396

What’s the target today? The last three days I’ve done a handful more words each day, so I guess let’s keep that going.

Today’s target is to get at least 1,876 words.

 

DAY NINE

Written 10/11/2017 for 09/11/2017

Oh, bugger.

I was supposed to write this in the morning. I always try to write my Nano update in the morning before I start, so I don’t forget the circumstances of what happened the day before.

But I was late to the office today, so didn’t get a chance.

And now I have actually forgotten.

So, um, bugger.

Luckily I write all my stats down the night before, so you can still enjoy reading those (you lucky thing), and I’ll get back to writing these things first thing tomorrow.

Words to “win” NaNoWriMo: 50,000

Words for par, Day 9: 15,000

Words written: 1,926

Total words: 18,530

Words over Target: 3,530

Average per day: 2,058

Remaining: 31,470

 

DAY TEN

Written 11/11/2017 for 10/11/2017

I think NaNoWriMo can be a fantastic thing for writers.

I’ve said before how habit is vital for writers. The process of just getting words down day after day because, the truth is, the only way to get better is to keep writing.

You can read every book and blog going about how to become a better writer but, if you don’t start getting words down, it’s all for nowt.

So NaNoWriMo encourages this kind of commitment, but it also invites you to finish something, which is the other key to becoming a better writer.

In my years I have started over a thousand stories, novels and scripts and left them to die in the wilderness of my hard drive, and each one taught me a little more about writing. But, the problem with that is that no one publishes a first draft (I don’t care what Lee Child says, I’m not buying it).

Editing is vital to success. Reworking things that didn’t work in the first place.

It’s only by forcing yourself to this stage, however bad you might think the first draft is, that you finally learn to progress to a book that is good enough to be read.

So the habit NaNoWriMo brings is excellent, but I also think it’s worth being careful because Nano asks that you write at least 1,667 words a day, and this is where problems can arise.

Take last night, for example.

Words to “win” NaNoWriMo: 50,000

Words for par, Day 10: 16,666

Words written: 849

Total words: 19,379

Words over Target: 2,713

Average per day: 1,937

Remaining: 30,621

I sat down after the England/ Germany game and pledged that I would write 2,000 words. I wanted to get further ahead of target, and I didn’t even want to think about giving up.

However, after about 250 words, it became clear it wasn’t working.

I couldn’t get into the right frame of mind, and I was pushing words out thoughtlessly. First drafts take a certain degree of free writing, but there comes a point – when you’re writing just for the sake of writing – that you’re doing more harm than good.

That’s what was happening to me last night, and it made me think.

I almost always cannot be bothered to start writing. It’s very rare that I’ll get in and want to get going. I start because I know I have to. Because I’m committed.

Despite this reluctance to start, once I’ve begun, everything tends to change. I fall immediately into the project, and I’ll just go, banging out however many words I can in the time allowed and not wanting to stop.

So, when I get to 250 words, and it’s just not clicking, even though that’s not very many, it is an obvious sign that something is not right.

I didn’t heed this warning last night, but I should have.

Luckily I came to my senses just after 800 words and realised I was wasting my time. I was tired, I was grumpy, and I was just junking out senseless nonsense to get the words done.

So here’s what I would say.

Promise yourself 250 words a night.

It’s nothing. It’ll take ten minutes, so you won’t be afraid to do it.

It’s because of this that you’ll almost always do more. You’ll smash targets, and you’ll be happier for it too. Keep writing as long as you feel good to keep writing, and you’ll easily make enough words on the on days to cover the days when 250 is about all you can manage.

I’ve been writing a long time, but it’s never too late to learn.

I’ll be holding this lesson close to me from now on.