Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Joys of the Writing Life

So far for 2010, I have managed to write around 2,000 words per day. Naturally, this makes me EXTREMELY happy.

NaNo was a really good idea for '09, and I can't wait for November of this year to roll around. In fact, it turned out so well (even though I failed miserably), I've decided to attempt a personal NaNo every other month in 2010, starting January. Conveniently, my "personal" NaNo schedule includes November, so I'll be doing the official NaNo this year, too.

For those not in the know: NaNo is short for National Novel Writing Month. Long story short: you write 50,000 words in 30 days, for about 1667 words a day.

I can write fast, as I discovered during NaNo. I can pound out 2k in an hour and a half, easy--assuming that I'm not having trouble stringing sentences together, which happens more than I'd like. Of course, the stuff I write doesn't turn out to be the best quality, but considering that the NaNo pace (for me) isn't different from my taking-the-time-to-consider-the-options pace, the first-draft quality of both turns out roughly the same.

So, NaNo taught me the value of backing up. Sometime around the seventeenth--I forget the exact date--I had a really bad writing day. Like, REALLY bad. It took me an hour to write a hundred words, and I ended up scrapping those. In desperation, since I had no idea where to take the plot next and I had not quite accepted the NaNoer's philosophy of "it doesn't have to make sense," I printed out what I had to show to my brother, who usually serves as my first reader, to get his take on it. Luckily, I had a good 2k extra words from better writing days in the past, so I'd still be on track if I didn't write that day. My computer had some problems when I took the flash drive out, but I thought nothing of it. My ONLY copy of the 30k or so words I'd written was on that flash drive.

The next day, I found that my file was corrupted.

I tried everything to fix it. I even downloaded some freeware off the Internet that promised to save the file (stupid, stupid, stupid--the freeware gave my computer a very annoying Trojan virus), though that didn't work. Nothing worked. If it weren't for the fact that I'd printed out everything I had up to that point, I'd have lost everything.

The whole thing upset me so much that I quit NaNo at that point. It didn't help that it fell right in the middle of my school play drama. So I completely failed NaNo in '09.

But I discovered something: when I set a regular writing schedule (as in words per day), my writing output increases dramatically. I'm less likely to put off writing, and when I write so many words a day, eventually I have to finish something. Thus, the personal NaNo goal was born.

At the moment, I'm somewhere between 12k and 14k in the novel I'm working on this month, and I haven't fallen behind even once. I like the story, I have a fair idea what's going to happen that should last me to at least 30k, and I also have some things that happened before the point I started the story at that I can work on if I hit a plot block once I run out of chronological material. (And it's saved to four different files in several different physical locations, so hopefully I won't lose it this time.) I AM going to "win" this personal NaNo, even if it kills me!

...well, maybe not quite. But it's the thought that counts.


  1. Ugh! I have done the overwriting thing, which is similar, but caused no less panic and anger. In other words, I feel for you.

    Kudos to you for learning a hard lesson. And holy smokes, I'm so, so jealous of your wordage.

  2. That sucks about what happened to you in 09.
    I also find that having a writing schedule helps (and not just for word output for me), it's taken me awhile to realize that November was my best month both for my mental health and for the novel I was writing. I'm so wishy-washy with writing right now, but having that goal of 50k in a month now has me wanting to write.

    Here's to your succcess ^.^