Haha, truer words, eh?
If this crumby seems a little harsh to you, it’ll make more sense next update.
In other news, here’s almost 1,000 words on my National Novel Writing Month attempt:
Mike’s Thoughts on NaNoWriMo
So I didn’t succeed at NaNoWriMo this year, which is disappointing, but also kind of okay. Disappointing because I would have liked to hit 50,000 words, but okay because I learned a lot, have become a better writer, and am coming out with 1/4 of a book draft. (I expect my book to be around 100,000 words long, and finished the month at 30,000 or so.)
I made some mistakes early in the planning phases that ended up slowing me down a lot. I didn’t spend enough time in the planning pre-writing phase, maybe only two weeks, which wasn’t nearly enough time given the scope of the book I was planning. I chose to write a fantasy book, which I thought would be something low-key and easy, compared to an attempt at a high literary piece like “Rabbit, Run” or whatever. Turns out I was hilariously, super-duper, all-the-way wrong.
The plot outline I worked up in the planning phases was okay, if a little sparse, but my writing time got killed on a ton of world building details required for the fantasy setting I was creating that I didn’t think of until I had started the November writing sprint. How does magic work in my world? What’s the government structure? What’s the map look like? What about this specific dungeon? How does the economy work? It’s language? Social demographics?
Some of these questions might seem dumb and ridiculous (*cough cough economy cough cough), but for the topics and themes I wanted to work into my book, they were necessary for lining up details and having things make sense. A lot of them ended up being necessary for just for basic descriptive details.
Example: I wanted my characters to be from different places in the world. When I need to relate that information to readers, I don’t want to just say, “He’s from the south someplace,” I want to tell them where exactly in the south, in a way that’s interesting and informs their understanding of the character. To do this, I had to make a world map, and making a crude world map took me four or so hours. Not a ton of time to lose overall, but meaningful when nearly all of your free time has to be spent writing. And I had a ton of other world building questions to answer besides what the world map looked like.
I think some of these details are supposed to be the kind left until NaNoWriMo was done, then filled in after the fact, but a lot of the time I spent on world building helped inform and shape the story a ton, often on major plot points. So, I think taking the time to answer world building now will save me revision time later on, plus help keep the story from feeling too fantasy-generic, two things I think are super-important.
The world building wasn’t the only thing that held be back though. The premise I chose for the book also proved to be kind of complicated . Without giving too much away, the book is going to be about a whole world built around the economics and power harvested from this special dungeon, so there’s a lot in there about how magic has shaped society, how the dungeon has shaped the culture and politics of the world, and how wealth flows out of the dungeon and into society. So, lot of practical background details, which I think will be interesting if written well, but it’s a lot of detail work to keep straight. Plus there are two different timelines woven throughout the book, and a third quasi-storyline also jammed in there, so there’s a lot to knot together.
Around when I got to starting the second timeline, I started to lose steam on working on the book. I’d kept a solid pace on hitting my word goals for the first half of the month, but around the 26,000 word mark, I realized that my book was going to be way longer than 50,000 words. Not even being an eighth done with what I wanted to include in the book, that was kind of the beginning of losing interest on pounding out 50,000 words in a month. Knowing that I wasn’t going to end the month with a complete first draft, it seemed much less worthwhile to write so frantically for a month.
Planning problems and complexity issues aside though, I definitely learned a lot attempting NaNoWriMo, and would encourage anyone thinking about trying it to go for it. Attempting to write something 50,000-plus words long, you just learn so much. About how to outline and build your world, about writing just to write and worrying about revision later, about how to push yourself to write even when you’re tired because you need to hit your word count for the day. Even though I didn’t complete a novel draft this month, I’m more confident that I’ll be able to finish a book day. Any time you can come out of something like this feeling like a better, more confident writer, that’s definitely a net positive, right?
I’m definitely going to finish the book, chipping away at it as I can.. Not sure when I’ll be done, but I’ll knock it out someday.
All in all, although it was stressful and insane amount of work, but it was also a lot of fun and put me way closer to completing my life’s goal of writing a book. Very glad that I did it! Next year is out since I’ll be getting married (woo!), but maybe I’ll try again the year afterward?
<3 <3 <3 and sorry for the long post,
“Immaculate Crucifixion” –Juno Reactor