Monday, December 3, 2012

My NaNoWriMo Autopsy

Just as I suspected earlier, I did not succeed at National Novel Writing Month this month. Based on the numbers in my Excel spreadsheet, I wrote approximately 7,660 words, around 15 percent of the 50,000 words those who set out to climb the NaNoWriMo mountain must write.

Now it's time to conduct an autopsy, to see why I did not succeed and what lessons can be learned:

*Work was one of the biggest causes. Although I've made some money with my personal writing, that which makes most of my money should take the top priority.

*For my NaNoWriMo project, I picked a hard SF novel I had already begun writing. That genre is more difficult to write and requires more pre-existing knowledge than, say, a sword-and-sorcery or "New Pulp" novel. My friend Jamie, who "made" NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row, said my not succeeding at NaNoWriMo was understandable if I chose hard SF. I'd written most of the first chapter of a pulp adventure novel in an hour or so at DragonCon this year and that would have been a better NaNoWriMo project.

*If you look at my November blog-posting list, I found a lot of stuff to comment on. Although some of that was very time-sensitive and necessary (like the Starcraft novel review), others perhaps could have been held off on. Part of the issue is that if I run into a block, I often find something easier to do, like post on the blog or message-board. Good for bringing in blog traffic (November was one of the most-trafficked months this year), but not good for finishing a novel.

*I brought the first four chapters to my writing group and spent time revising them rather than simply writing new content. I have reason for this--one of my writing group's more active members is a former petty officer on a submarine who knows significantly more about the Navy than I do and his comments lead to large re-writes. It's better to get problems in earlier chapters fixed to minimize the amount of rewriting later. However good that might be more for the novel as a whole, that contributed to my not making the 50,000.

Oh well. Better luck next year.


  1. The damned internets caught you!

    They don't call it the World Wide Waste-of-time for nothing.

    NANO will only work if you just put your head down and write straight through, no research, no fact checking, no second guessing. All of that can be saved for December.

    Actually for me and a lot of writers, this is the way to make it through first drafts of any kind, NANO or not. Head down, make words.
    You rely on all the reading you have done before to get you through and then you can go in and add the details.

    You'll get 'em next time.

  2. Figures. I went into NaNoWriMo in the first place on impulse. I could have gotten the research and other stuff done in advance.

    Oh well. I now have four chapters when I once had just a prologue, although I'm going to need to severely revised Chapter Three for realism purposes.