Rinse and repeat

This always happens. All year I plug away at various writing projects, averaging about 2000 words a day. Then at the end of October, people start talking about Nanowrimo and suddenly I think it’s a great idea.

I mean, I know 50,000 words is not a novel, and the 1,667 words per day required for Nano is actually less than my minimum daily wordcount anyway. So even though the friends who start talking about Nanowrimo are mostly writers anyway (one of the criticisms of Nano, certainly, that those most excited about it are writing more than 50,000 per month anyway), there is a certain spirit of camaraderie that crops up.

And why not use this chatter to get a nice start on a new project, right? Fifty thou is half a novel, and, well, if I was going to write it anyway, why not add a few people on the Nano website and have a bit of an online party.

And then it all goes wrong. In fact, it’s gone wrong the last three years at least that I can remember. I’m going to call this the NaNoCurse. Check it out. This is a snapshot of my progress chart for Hang Wire, my superhero novel about an exploding fortune cookie and a serial killer stalking the San Francisco night:

It started well. Three days above 2k. One day a huge 4,091. And then… a big string of zeroes. So, what happened? What’s my excuse this time?

Actually, it’s the same as every year. November is a busy time for my day job, and this year was no exception. I didn’t even start until a week into November, and on my fourth day I was flown to Vienna for a meeting. When I got back I was flooded with post-meeting work, and then after a brief return to writing on the 18th, I came down with a cold and it all ground to a halt.

Depressing, right? Right. You better believe it. Yet another NanoFailMo. And I’ve blogged about that before.

However, I wasn’t as idle as that chart suggests. I wrote a 1,000 word Christmas-themed short story (more on that later) and wrote a 3,000 word chapter for The Gospel of the Godless Stars, my horror Western collaboration. I also plotted a long-short (novellette? novellina? short novella?) I need to write by the end of January (and more on that), and worked on outlines for two more shorts (and that too!). So not quite as disasterous as my Nano stats tell me.

Periods like this suck, but I need to accept they happen a few times a year. No biggie.

So Hang Wire is at 10,065 words. Theoretically that’s 10% of the book, but nothing much has happened yet except for a fortune cookie exploding, a superhero sizing up his new city from a rooftop at midnight (a cliche, but I had to do it), and a brawl between a Celtic dance troop and the operators of the fairground rides at a travelling circus.

The Gospel of the Godless Stars is now at 8,500 words exactly, with three chapters (two of mine and one of Kate’s) and a prologue down (also Kate). This is turning into quite a fun ride, which I’ll talk about later this week.

  • Jennifer Williams

    Cool post! Glad to hear you’re getting so much done. πŸ™‚ I’m curious though:

    “one of the criticisms of Nano, certainly, that those most excited about it are writing more than 50,000 per month anyway”

    Why would this be a criticism of Nano? And I’m not so sure that’s true…

  • Gosh, that’s terrible. I started a week early and wrote 2 books, both 50 K, in 16 days. My total count for both books was 101 K, and I started on the fifth the give my friends a head start. I still finished early on the 20th for one book, and on the 21st for the other.

    As easy as it was, next year, I’m not doing NaNo. The only way to challenge myself now would be to write 3 books at the same time. And that’s just crazy.

  • I think they are saying that the purpose of NaNoWriMo is to encourage people to start writing, and to challenge them with the task of 50,000 in one month (1,667 a day). For new writers this is pretty formidable.

    However, people like us who are writers anyway, 1,667 words a day is really a very bare minimum, and if things are running smoothly we should/could/would be writing more like 60,000 words a month. But suddenly NaNoWriMo comes around and we’re all jumping in and signing up like it’s a big thing, when we’re doing more than that all year round, with no fanfare.

    If you take that view, and I can see their point, then NaNoWriMo doesn’t quite make sense, unless it is the team spirit and fun times it engenders. That’s certainly how I see it.

    Personally my biggest problem with NaNoWriMo is the name itself – 50,000 is not a novel, and after a month’s hard slog to reach the goal it’s a little unfair on those who are new to this to make them think they’ve written a novel. Which they haven’t.

    But that’s not an argument I’m going to get into. Some people feel very strongly for and against Nano for a variety of reasons. I’m somewhere in the middle.

  • Hehheh. That’s very impressive, but I’d say unusual. Two thousand words a day is about average for most fiction writers I think.

    Of course Nano can get very strange indeed – I remember following the adventures of one writer who was claiming 35,000 words a day. At one point they were posting hourly updates as the clock ticked towards the deadline. If they were telling the truth I would imagine their prose was near-on unreadable.

    I’m not saying that you’re crazy like that, but it just reminded me that there are some unusual writing habits around πŸ˜€

  • Jennifer Williams

    Ah, now, I’m not so sure about 1,667 words being a bare minimum… that much every day is quite a lot. And I know proper writerly types who don’t write that much daily and they don’t have a day job to squeeze in as well. I suppose my feelings are that I don’t impose a minimum wordcount on myself because I would just get bummed and depressed when I inevitably can’t do that consistently. As long as I can get a bit of writing down as often as possible, that’s alright with me. But all writers approach it differently, don’t they? What works for you might not work for me.

    It’s worth remembering that the vast majority of people who sign up for Nano are taking it as an opportunity to do something they’ve always wanted to do but have never quite taken the chance ; in the end it’s about a personal challenge and whether you enter into the spirit of it or not. πŸ™‚