50,000 Words Done: NaNoWriMo complete.

It’s the 22nd of November. A few weeks ago, I got stuck in to drafting the manuscript for NaNoWriMo and let everything else slide. On the plus side, I’ve finished drafting the 50,000 words. Here’s a quick rundown of what the month has been like, and what I’ve learned so far …

Three days planning = fried brain.

It took one day more than I thought to plan out my plot and characters. Day one was tough, because I had to go to work. Then I had four days off in a row – Monday through Thursday.
I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday planning everything out. This was a new experience for me. Normally I plan a story up to a point, but there will always be fuzzy bits – parts that aren’t clear to me exactly what might happen or how they might resolve. In the past, I just figured that the story will work itself out in the draft.

This time, though, I didn’t let myself start writing until I knew what was going to happen in every scene. This lead to quite a lot of sitting around and thinking. On the second day I threw out what plot I had but kept the characters. On the third day I spent hours trying to figure out how to make this one story element work (the solution was to just remove the element to make the story work). I had some solid characters, a good plot and a fried brain. So I took the fourth day off.

Different Work Habits.

Sitting for a long time, staring and thinking. Working for hours without a break. Working long into the night. Once I had set the deadline of three days to plan, it all became about getting it done. Up until that point, I’d normally stop a days writing at 11:30 am, figuring that my creativity was done for the day. Guess I proved myself wrong there – turns out I can be ‘creative’ for more than four hours.

Luckily the same thing happened when it came to drafting. I was able to draft in the afternoons as well as mornings. Late at night, however, is a struggle for me. I just can’t seem to engage the part of my brain that drafts come from past around 7pm.

50,000 words done, but the story isn’t over.

At the 50,000 word mark, the narrative is about three quarters of the way through. However, I’m stopping the drafting now and starting to edit.

The drafting process has slowed down – words aren’t flowing as fast as they used to, and this is my indicator that it’s time to revise the story to make sure I know the characters and plot. I actually would have done this a while ago, but wanted to hit the 50,000.

Hand Writing is Not For Me.

So after the first full day of work on the outline, I gave up on the whole handwriting thing. It’s not for me. I realised pretty soon that not being able to instantly search your notes for what you wrote about a certain person or location wastes too much time. Also, it hurts my fingers after clutching a pen for seven hours straight. So no, it’s back to using the computer for everything, and I’m fine with that.

And finally, returning to an old friend, asking for forgiveness.

Ulysses is pretty. It was okay to work with. But you know what? It turns out there were some things that I missed with Scrivener, or had forgotten about until I reached for them and saw they weren’t there. So as refreshing as it was to try something different, I’m back on Scrivener and loving it just fine.

Don’t forget the Blog.

This article started as a six day update, then a two week update, and now here I am, 22 days in. I never got around to finalising and publishing an article while I was in the middle of drafting. It’s a small thing, but it would have been nice to have a record of my thoughts and processes over the month, instead of this summary based on a few lines and what I vaguely remember thinking at the time.