NaNo 2015: Midseason Update

Apparently skipping all normal NaNo rituals results in it not really feeling like NaNo. The magic just disappears, or never appears, it’s like a regular day with all the regular annoyances and distractions.

  • I didn’t stay up till midnight and write a few lines before I went to bed.
  • I didn’t complete my outline.
  • I didn’t have a title, series title, universe title.
  • I didn’t create a temporary cover.
  • I didn’t have an opening line so I was stuck at the start line.

All told it was not the best start to the month. However, I dutifully started writing the prologue and I reached the 50k pace for the day (1667 words) before the prologue was finished. That I hoped boded well for the length of the rest of the story but only time would tell on that front.

I finished the prologue and I was feeling good. However, I’m familiar with the emotional highs and lows of writing a first draft. I knew that high wasn’t going to last, the same as I know the inevitable lows will end. It’s a rollercoaster journey every single time.

What is somewhat miraculous is throughout the whole process, while there are parts of the draft I dislike, I don’t loathe anything AND I still absolutely love the idea. That’s new, usually I wind up hating everything and want to kill it with fire. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time. We’ll see how I feel when I reach those immortal words – ‘The End’.

Word of warning about this post. I wrote it in 5 separate updates over the course of the beginning of the month. Therefore I can’t vouch for how understandable it is, think of it as a live blog almost of the writing process.

Lifetime Achievement Word Count (A Really Good Bad Idea)
The only new feature, so far as I’ve noticed, this year on the NaNo site is the introduction of the ‘Lifetime Achievement Word Count’. This adds up the total count of words written during NaNo since each person started. Before this month began my total was 314,409 words. I have taken part in seven NaNo’s (not counting this month), two of which I failed to reach 50k

Next year will mark my 10th anniversary of NaNo. Including next year I will have taken part in NaNo nine times, as I missed 2011, but I could have done NaNo 10x if I hadn’t missed that year. If I had taken part every possible year, and ‘won’ the event by reaching 50k, I would have a lifetime word count of 500k. For reasons I don’t even understand, I’ve decided that I should try and make the counter say 500k anyway. Forget the two ‘failed’ years and one missing year, make it like they didn’t happen and have the 500k I should have.

That means I need on average to have 93k this year, and next year, to make 500k by the end of my ’10th’ event. Last year was my best NaNo ever and I finished the month with 61k. Why did I think this is a good idea again?

Good idea or not, I decided to make 100k my aim goal for the month on day four. I was just over 2000 words behind pace for 100k, which I managed to make up by the end of day five. All that did was put me back on pace, and the pace daily goal for 100k is 3,334 words a day – every day. Why did I think that was a good idea again?

At this point I still hadn’t completed my outline. I’d filled in a couple of holes and added a few more scenes to give me another couple of days. However, on day six I was coming to the end of what I had and really wishing I’d taken care of this before the month began.

Nothing like an outline problem
My outline problems continued. I had reached 20k by this point and that’s when I always start to run into problems. I don’t know why but there is something about the 20k mark. It’s the point where I start to loathe my draft, it’s the point where I stopped on those two failed NaNo’s. I guess it’s because I’ve gone past the beginning and I’ve reached the muddy middle. I’m still a long way from the end so there’s no light at the end of the tunnel to make things easier.

The last time I went into NaNo without a finished concrete outline was 2013. It was by far my most painful and worst NaNo – ever. I didn’t live up to my own standards for the first time since I crossed the 50k finishing line. While 2013 was useful in a number of ways, for instance the raw material it provided which I’ve cannibalized for a number of other stories, it was an absolute nightmare. I resolved to never put myself in that position again. If I didn’t know the answer before the month started, how would I know it after the month began?

I didn’t purposefully go into this NaNo without a finished outline. I was ill, I ran out of time, excuses and more excuses. However, the point is that’s the situation I’m in and that’s the one I have to deal with.

I fixed half of my outline problems on day eight but it wasn’t all good news. I really should have done all this work before the month began but because I hadn’t, that meant I had some rewriting to do. The beginning needed an overhaul as did a couple of other scenes further on into the draft. However, now I was on much firmer ground, with a strong foundation, I hoped I could finish the outline.

Given I was already behind on my word count, though admittedly only be a couple of thousands words, I opted not to complete the outline on day eight. Instead I fixed it, filling in all the gaps between all the scenes I already had outlined. There is a large gap between the last scene I have outlined, and the finale scenes but I’m hoping I can fill that gap very soon and then I’ll know everything that happens in this book.

Wrapping this post up. Day Eight to Day Seventeen
For four days, so day eight, nine, ten and eleven I went back through the draft I had already written. I pulled out a couple of the beginning scenes, rewrote and replaced and added in new ones. The beginning expanded, it was a lot longer and hopefully a lot better than the first attempt. In the end there was about 2500 words I had to consign to the bin. I managed to re-purpose about 1250 and I was a lot happier about how it went.

Then on day twelve I started continuing on from where I had left off on day seven. At some point about this time, or maybe a day later, (to be honest I forget as I didn’t write this part at the time), I added on a few scenes onto the outline.

I was supposed to make 50k for the month (not the draft due to the 2500 slashed words) on the 15th but I actually made it on the 16th. That was a day off pace for the 100k, it was about this time that I started to doubt that I would make 100k. Keeping up the 3.3k required daily was more difficult than it sounded.

On the 17th I didn’t really write anything because I still hadn’t finished the outline. The day before I’d started writing the last scene I had outlined, I knew that I had to finish up and decide what happened in the last 1/3 of the book. It took me a few hours and then thankfully inspiration struck and I finally! finally! completed the outline.

The book itself is going to wind up being the longest thing I have ever written. I suspect it will end up about 70k, maybe a little more, only time will tell. My real goal is always to have a completed first draft by the end of the month. I am determined that will happen. Ideally I will finish the draft, have time to spare and then I can write some flash fiction which I’ve been meaning to do for months. Have to see how it goes.

I will write another post in the beginning of December to say how everything ended. I’ll also likely outline some goals, so that next October I can look back and see how I did over the year. I know I sort of did some in my previous pre-NaNo post but I’ll probably add more.

2 thoughts on “NaNo 2015: Midseason Update

  1. I’m glad to hear it’s going (at least went, at the time of writing the post) well and wow, that 100k goal seems ambitious. I hope that has panned out as well w/o you hitting the wall ^^ As you said, the main goal should be a finished first draft, but I do hope you reach the 100k as well. Setting goals and then reaching them gives, at least me, such a good feeling ^^ Although if it was me, I would’ve chickened out and set the goal a lot lower, like 60-70k =P

    Have you been watching Jessica Jones btw? Just yesterday I remembered it was coming out around the 20th so I’ve only seen the first 2, about to watch the third, but so far I’ve enjoyed them a lot. Same as the DD series it’s ‘dark and gritty’ (feels like that’s being said about a lot of stuff made nowadays though, but maybe it’s just me and what I’ve been watching =P) but even darker due to JJ’s backstory. If you haven’t watched it, I assume that the full backstory will be revealed in part throughout the first season, because so far we’ve not heard a lot, and only rather vague comments.

    I won’t reveal it either in case you, like me, don’t know her story. First I’ve seen of JJ was in MH after all, and there she just gave you one quest during the story iirc, or maybe even that she was just standing around quest givers.. Either way, if you have time (and OUaT taking a break might be what gives you that time) it’s a show I’d recommend at least giving a try 😉

    Good luck with the last days on NaNo and I look forward to the update post of how it went! =D

    • I’ll answer your NaNo questions in the post I’m writing now.

      In regards to Jessica Jones I’ve watched episode one and that’s it so far. However, I have finally finished Daredevil and man was that a slog. I didn’t like Daredevil, I found it repetitive with the constant “I feel guilty but I’m doing it anyway” self-doubt and self-loathing. Jessica Jones started much stronger but by the end .. well let’s just say I’m not at all sure about the series plot. I will probably make myself watch it because it’s Marvel but not a big fan.

      To be honest I wonder if it’s the “dark and gritty” thing that they are going for, it just doesn’t feel like Marvel. There’s none of that Marvel magic, I think maybe it’s taking itself too seriously or trying too hard to tick certain boxes. Not that I’m against dark and gritty, I just think I have a different definition of what that should be than these shows do.

      Yeah I hadn’t really heard much of Jessica Jones either. I’m glad that it sounds like you are enjoying it though, that’s cool!

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