November writing wrapup

At a few min­utes before mid­night I am declar­ing NaNoW­riMo over, and I did not make it to 50,000 words.

In the mid­dle of the month I had a bunch of work that need­ed to be done for mon­ey, and a par­tic­u­lar­ly amaz­ing week­end work­shop led by the incom­pa­ra­ble Jason McClain. So after get­ting to 19,478 words by day 10 I plateaued and and did­n’t start rack­ing the word count up for 13 days. On day 23 I’d got­ten to 22,205 words, which means, well you can do the math your­self but that was almost two weeks of not much writ­ing. But then I put togeth­er what I think was an admirable ral­ly. In the last sev­en days I brought the total up to 42,515.

That means that for the month of Novem­ber I aver­aged a lit­tle over 1,400 words per day, even count­ing the thir­teen days when I did­n’t get much done.

One thing sig­nif­i­cant to me is that even in those 13 days of lit­tle progress there were on five days when I made no progress at all. On all but five days in Novem­ber I sat down and got at least a cou­ple hun­dred words writ­ten. There were a cou­ple of big push­es includ­ing the final 6,646 word day.

My NaNoW­riMo page con­tains a bar graph that more clear­ly illus­trates the progress.

The real open ques­tion is how much more I’ll need to write in order to fin­ish this sto­ry. I nev­er thought that a 50,000 word month would be any more than a good sol­id start, and I do feel pret­ty good about it. My 42,515 words is a sol­id start. It’s much more expo­si­tion-heavy than I intend­ed, and I may need to rearrange some of the chap­ters to make the time­line fit right, but it’s stuff that I have com­mit­ted to Scriven­er. The mate­r­i­al I have writ­ten hints at the scope of the sto­ry but I haven’t yet done much more than intro­duce my char­ac­ters. They have had very lit­tle chance to devel­op and there are only two plot arcs that are at all well defined. So ask me again in anoth­er 42,000 words how much more I’ll need to have writ­ten before this sto­ry is done.

I’m not sold on the idea that dai­ly or month­ly word tar­gets are a good way to struc­ture writ­ing, but I am cer­tain that accept­ing this chal­lenge kicked my ass, and I am cer­tain that I’ll dive in to NaNoW­riMo next year. Per­haps dai­ly or month­ly word tar­gets aren’t use­ful in the larg­er pic­ture, but it was a good exer­cise for Novem­ber. I’m remind­ed of train­ing for a race: the impor­tant thing is to get out on the road reg­u­lar­ly and to put the miles behind. But some­times one real­ly ought to push for speed in addi­tion to devel­op­ing a slow­er, main­tain­able pace. That’s part of what makes the slow­er main­tain­able pace turn into a faster main­tain­able pace. The goal isn’t to become a bet­ter sprint­er (at least not for most peo­ple) but to build the strength and speed to make the slow, main­tain­able pace not so slow.

There is some­thing to be said for split­ting a task into man­age­able frag­ments. One of the next things I’ll be doing on the nov­el will be return­ing to the struc­ture and look­ing for sec­tions I can focus on. I’m not plan­ning on set­ting a month­ly word count again until next Novem­ber, but I might well set oth­er kinds of goals, such as the com­ple­tion of a sec­tion of a sto­ry, or per­haps the short sto­ry that is sup­posed to come between book 1 and book 2.

I need to do some of the afore­men­tioned rearrange­ments but at some point I like­ly will post an excerpt of what I wrote dur­ing November.

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