Final NaNo Update and Post-Mortem

exhausted woman with head on keyboard
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

Final Update – 11.30.20

Well, folks, it’s finally over. I actually stopped adding my word count to the NaNo site on the 25th, as it is basically all a lie now. Getting rid of a POV knocked a substantial amount off my story and there were some worldbuilding words included as well, so it’s not an accurate count of what I have.

I’m not too concerned with that, though. 

Today was weird, attention span-wise until I got something to eat. My brain just could not sit still. “Oh, a cat! I’m cold. Now I’m too hot. Now hungr–CATS CATS CATS.” But sipping on some Soylent calmed everything down and I managed to bang out a little over a thousand words. I’m almost to the end of the outline I started, so there’s going to be a lot of discovery writing after that. I still have my major landmarks to get to, and I was already allowing myself to change or add scenes however I felt like it, so it won’t be too different. I just feel a little nervous again now that I’ll be flying mostly blind once I get there. Will I freeze? Will I hate everything? Will I fuck it all up? We’ll see!

Soon this blog will return to it’s regularly scheduled programming. Which is starting to feel a little disingenuous. I don’t know. I feel like I should write something other than writing tips for noobs, but I have no idea what that would be. Hence the Tuesday posts where I kinda just babble on about whatever. I have a feeling it’s going to turn into something like Chuck Wendig’s blog, which is essentially just a diary, except he’s actually a famous author and so people actually care what he thinks about things? 

I don’t know, maybe that’s just my self-consciousness peeking through again. That’s fine, I’ll figure something out. Or I won’t and I’ll just quietly sneak away and try to finish a couple of books first. 


NaNoWriMo Post Mortem

This year was quite the learning experience for me. The first year that I won, I didn’t really learn too much as I was far too busy writing down a ridiculous amount of words for a story I already knew inside and out. I knew it inside and out because I had been continuously imagining it in my daydreams for months before then. All of the other years, I started with an idea I knew quite a bit about, but ran out of time or energy or “give-a-fuck-ness” for any of it, and so not much learning happened there, either.

This year, however, I had a lot of pressure to get this story written and win NaNo. Plus I wasn’t sure how I wanted to actually tell this story and I didn’t know the characters as well. I’m not quite sure what made this so different as far as understanding the people, places, and things, but it did end up making me think really hard about what I was doing and why. I was also determined to not leave behind a mess like I did in 2009 when I “won.” 

Honestly, it’s not that bad of a mess, I just never approached it with the right mindset. I was still at the “first draft = final draft” stage in thought, so every time I realized I needed to rewrite a chapter or found a poorly written paragraph I felt like a failure. Now that I am older and wiser (ha!), I realize that writing is rewriting, so I’m not as afraid of the big bad scary first draft.

Anyhow, my point is that I didn’t want to write another pile of garbage for me to sort through later. I wanted it to be legible and organized at least a little, so that I can tear it a part and rewrite it anyway. 

My general process during NaNo this year:

  1. Come up with the general idea for the novel.
  2. Gather materials that will assist with designing the world/afterlife/nature of existence (relevant, I swear!).
  3. Read many of the materials, skim through some that weren’t as useful as I’d hoped, discard the rest.
  4. Plan to do write ups for different things that I learned because it’s all so neat.
  5. Don’t.
  6. Try to write up character sheets for each character.
  7. Try to write up information on each location that is planned in the story.
  8. Try to write up a detailed outline in stages, starting with basic “beginning, middle, end” and then expanding each of these sections until a complete understand is reached for each character in each scene so that all that needs to happen during NaNo is writing the prose.
  9. Don’t manage to do any of these things.
  10. Try to do worldbuilding, character creation, plotting, and writing every day for 30 days, writing a total of 1,667 each day at least, to end with 50,000 words on November 30th.
  11. Have illnesses, burnout, doubt, imagined stress, and existential crises get in the way.
  12. Say “fuck it” and do whatever the hell I want for the rest of the month, taking breaks on the weekends to keep my sanity.
  13. ???
  14. Profit!

What’s next?

I am going to continue to write this novel until it’s done. This is an official commitment to that. I have no idea how long it’s going to take, but I’ll make sure to get it all the way to beta readers, so that I have experience in doing so. 

What this means is that I will write THE END on this first draft, doing any sort of worldbuilding, etc. as needed along the way. Then I will let it rest. After that, I’ll go through and write a detailed outline of what I have, doing the “scene work” I had planned to do before I started in order to better understand the plot holes I have and any sort of motivations I need to sort out or make obvious. From there, I’ll work out tone, character voice, descriptions, etc. and finally go through and do a proofread – looking for grammatical errors, spelling errors, etc. etc. 

Then I’ll need people to read it! It’s a diverse cast of characters, so I’ll need some sensitivity readers, as well as just regular “is this good?” readers. So I guess if you’re up for that and you like urban fantasy with a touch of horror, hit me up!

How did your NaNoWriMo go? Any better than mine?


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