Easier Said than Done – A reflection on NaNoWriMo

As I said in this post, I was going to try to write 50,000 words about a telepath running around the US from the government and a terrorist organization. I only wrote…23,262.

In my defense, I also wrote at least 2,000 words on one novel, at least 5,000 words on another novel, plus a total of over 10,000 words for this blog during this past month. That’s a lot closer. Still, that’s all only almost there, and there was two other reasons that I don’t think I finished (which may be a good thing).

First, and most importantly, was real life. As a college student coming quickly on finals week, there was a lot to do that involved leaving the computer off and going to classes and doing homework. All those things I wish I didn’t have to deal with so that I could just write for all eternity. Sigh.

The other issue was only a little less warranted. It largely included the internet, and while I could argue that I occasionally needed some mindless, relaxing entertainment, there is also something to be said about excessive entertainment, which I’m sure I crossed into on a few occasions.

That being said, I’d like my family to know that I have been putting my homework before my writing, and there’s been a lot of that to do.

On the other hand, even when I was writing, I was running into brick walls. This was a particularly difficult story for me to write, largely because of what I’d like to christen “The Middle Gap”.

Simply put, this is the tendency for a writer to create the beginning and the ending of a story – and then leave the middle till they get there. This is something that happens to me a lot, and “Psychic” was no exception. The only problem was that that I never reached the ending, and the fact that I really didn’t know what would happen in the middle caught up with me rather quickly.

Now, generally there’s nothing wrong with not knowing the next step. The problem, for plotters like me, is what to fill in for the time between Point A and Point B, especially in the chapters that contribute less to the main plot.

When people ask me how fast I write, I usually tell them about a thousand words per hour. Honestly, I think this is perhaps the only way of accurately measuring type speed. Words per minute is only for people who know each and every word they will type, five sentences ahead. But that’s generally not how a first draft goes. Generally, word speed changes from a thousand words per hour when the writer knows what’s going on or when it’s a particularly fast paced scene, to around two hundred words per hour when the writer has no clue where to go next. And I found myself in the latter position far too often.

All that being said, I don’t think I’ll participate in NaNoWriMo next year. Even if I did put a gratuitous amount of planning into a story three months beforehand. I had far too many other things to spend my time on this month, and I don’t think that will be any different this time next year.

Not that I’ll stop writing, of course, or even put anything on hiatus. I love putting words on a page too much for that. I did enjoy doing NaNoWriMo, and getting significantly farther in this story than I’ve ever written or thought up before. While I didn’t get to write the most beautiful words of writing, “the end”, I still loved discovering the story.

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2 thoughts on “Easier Said than Done – A reflection on NaNoWriMo

  1. virginia meyer says:

    Adam, it is great to know that you are concentrating on your studies.
    Have fun with your finals. Can it really be that time already.

  2. Rob says:

    The problem is now finding time to go back to the story and finish it. Mine only got to 35,000 words but it is just barely beginning. And it needs lots and lots of editing, since it is nearly all dialog (owing to the fact that I was also directing a stage musical at the same time). Perhaps we’ll both find some time during the Christmas holidays, when we aren’t snacking…

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