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NaNoWriMo Complete! Sort of…

Well, this is awkward.

Technically, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write at least 50,000 words during the month of November. Well, I just typed THE END on the first draft of my book. A first draft which is 40,861 words in length. So, technically speaking, I have not won NaNoWriMo.

Go on. Ask me if I care.

Over the course of 25 days, I produced a complete first draft of a middle grade fantasy novel. Like most of my first drafts, this one is an utter mess. (My son is disappointed I won’t read this version to him, and he has to wait until at least draft two.) But it has a lot of fun ideas, and is just begging to be rewritten and cleaned up into what I hope will be a publishable novel.

I’m thrilled. This is exactly what I hoped I’d be able to accomplish. There were several days I wasn’t sure I’d make it. We had some family issues, and I had to scramble to get the page proofs done and turned back on Revisionary. There were also times I think I might have pushed myself a little too hard. I felt myself skirting depression once or twice as I struggled to get things done in the real world while also chiseling away at the word count.

Lessons learned:

  • I’m not the 25-year-old kid with no life who can do 80,000 words in a month. But I can do 40,000 in just under a month, and that’s pretty damn sweet.
  • First drafts are allowed to be broken. Stop beating yourself up for not being perfect the first time. (I have to relearn this one with every book, but I had to learn it harder this time.)
  • Have fun.
  • Goblins make everything better. So do chainsaws.
  • Concrete wordcount goals and public accountability (like the word count meter) work really well for me, but also increase stress.
  • Don’t neglect self-care.
  • First drafts, for me, are about throwing in every idea you can. Revision is for pruning some of those ideas and developing the ones you keep.
  • Next book: chainsaw-wielding goblins…

For my fellow NaNo writers, whatever your goals this month, whatever your triumphs and setbacks, whether you “won” or not, I hope you had fun. I hope you discovered something new. I hope you grew as a writer, and I hope you feel good about the work you’ve done.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go print out a manuscript.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.



( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 25th, 2015 08:28 pm (UTC)
Huzzah! I'm not doing NaNO, but I am trying to get a fairly polished chunk of the current manuscript done. I starred with 34K and I'm trying to reach 80K by the end of the month. I don't think I'm *quite* going to make it, but I'm already at 64K and that's something.

Off to write more words...
Nov. 26th, 2015 02:56 am (UTC)
30K in less than a month ain't nothing to sneer at!
Nov. 26th, 2015 03:22 am (UTC)
67,780 as of tonight :-)
Nov. 25th, 2015 08:37 pm (UTC)
I think you won! Isn't there an alternate goal of "finish a draft of a book in 30 days"? And you did that.
Nov. 25th, 2015 09:13 pm (UTC)
Officially, I don't know, but that's what I'm going with :-)
Nov. 25th, 2015 08:55 pm (UTC)

Great job. I'll count you a winner, no matter what the official WC meter thing says. Is 40K around what you expect the novel to be? Or are you the kind of writer that tends to under write and then fill in more details, etc during subsequent drafts?

Now, I'm ready to dive back in. I'm still behind, but 17K in 5 days is possible, if not probable for me.
Nov. 25th, 2015 09:12 pm (UTC)
My revisions are usually significantly longer than the first draft. No idea what the final word count is going to look like on this thing yet...

Good luck!
Nov. 25th, 2015 09:59 pm (UTC)
Congrats on the finished draft.

I have the opposite problem. I just 'won' Nano (I had not thought I would manage this year until I got the 25K two days early, and then I took the bite and ran, lol) but that monster of a story is far from finished.
Nov. 26th, 2015 02:56 am (UTC)
Congrats! Whatever else happens, that's 50K of the story done in less than a month. Go you!
Nov. 25th, 2015 10:33 pm (UTC)
Middle Grade fantasy novel is a phrase that warms my heart ... though my kids will probably have moved on to YA by the time it is out, with typical publishing schedules. There really isn't enough genre MG out there.
Nov. 26th, 2015 02:55 am (UTC)
Heck, I'm 41 years old, and I'll still read YA and middle grade stuff :-)
Nov. 25th, 2015 11:23 pm (UTC)

i didn't do NaNo this year for the biggest reason that i had no plot... ;)
Nov. 26th, 2015 01:54 am (UTC)
Mazel tov!
Nov. 26th, 2015 05:13 am (UTC)
I wrote 14617 and 23880 words respectively on two different projects, each of which wrapped at just over 70K. I'm now working on my Yuletide gift fic, as well as MLing, moderating, and working almost full-time hours.

Yet one of my Wrimos said I was bragging today when I said I'd done an hour of housework. Sigh.
Nov. 26th, 2015 05:16 pm (UTC)
Have you scheduled any time to sit down and breathe for a few minutes?
Nov. 28th, 2015 03:08 am (UTC)
Breathing and sleeping are for December!

(I'm actually hanging out at Ikea now at a write-in, reading webcomics instead of writing, and eating meatballs. I don't know how I fit self-care into the month, but apparently I do.)
Nov. 26th, 2015 05:58 pm (UTC)
So, if revision is about pruning, and sometimes actual pruning is done with chainsaws, does that mean that you should hire a chainsaw-weilding goblin for your next editor? Have I now spawned a plot-bunny for a short story about a goblin trying his hand at editing, perhaps editing a book about goblins?
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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