NaNoWriMo 2015 Retrospective

I did it, I won NaNoWriMo this year! I believe reflection is a part of good practice, so here it is, a look back on NaNoWriMo 2015.

First, let’s look at the numbers. I started writing on November 1st, and met my 50,000 word goal on the 28th. I continued to log my word count after that, but I’m just going to focus on the 28 days leading up to victory.

Par for a day in NaNoWriMo is 1667 words. Based on that, I made or exceeded par 22/28 days, or 79% of the time. I wrote 2000 words or more on 12 days, and one day I wrote more than double the par for that day. This was the last day, and I was pushing hard for the finish.

Most importantly, I had only 1 zero word day in those 28 days. That’s phenomenal. That means I was writing at least something 96% of the time. I had 3 days in which I wrote less than 1000 words, one of which was the zero word day. This leads me to believe that a 1000 word/day goal in general is reasonable for me.

Outside of the numbers, how did I feel? If you look, I had a solid wall of 2000+ word days in the beginning, which was very stressful but ultimately worth it. I really feel that I had to start out strong in order to get the momentum that carried me through the dreaded middle. The stress was worse at the beginning. Once I broke 25k everything got a lot easier. I don’t know if I just felt that it was an achievable goal once I was halfway there or if my body had gotten used to the stress, but after 25k everything clicked.

Interestingly enough, coming off NaNoWriMo, I set a goal of 1000 words a day for December to finish my first draft, and I had a hard time stopping at 1000. Even if I’d met my goal and was at a good stopping point, I felt a nagging feeling at the back of my head, like I had left important work undone. After a few days, I’ve settled into a comfortable 1000-1200 words per day, and I think that’s a good pace, especially around the holidays.

Overall, this was a success, and a process I think I’m going to emulate going forward. I’m just not the kind of person that can write a little here and a little there when it comes to a longer work. I need that short, sustained momentum to get the words on paper. To generate the clay I’m going to make my sculpture with. Plus, two months to a first draft is too tempting to pass up.

So, what’s next? I’m at 62,000 on the current draft, and based on where I am in the story, I think it’s going to come in at 70k. Then it’s going to need serious rewrites – I improv wrote this on a whim and major changes need to be made. Once I’m done adding material, I think we’ll be around 80-90k, a respectable length for a low-magic fantasy story. (I want to call this dark fantasy, or romance, or borderline horror, but I’m just not sure where it falls genre-wise yet).

And when it’s ready? I start sending it out. I’d like to sell this to trad publishers before I self publish (I have an urban fantasy series in my to-write queue that I think will make a nice self-publishing venture), but if I can’t in the traditional way, I may very well go the Kindle route.

In general, I don’t know what happened in the last two years, but something just clicked, and now I’m confident that I can write and publish a novel. 2016 is going to be a pretty bad-ass year, so stay tuned!

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