Just wanted to post a quick update to say I'm doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, though it should be interNational) this November, so haven't really had any time to post on the blog. Hopefully I'll get more time in December.

Here you can see my progress -- green days show when I made the 1667 word target for that day; red days I think means zero words, and yellow and orange, well you get the drift.

I was doing really well until my grandmother sadly passed away and I had to travel to her funeral. Definitely one of those times when life comes first.

My NaNo Project Is My Current Project (Starfighters: Infection)

The rules for NaNo have been relaxed since the old days, so you're allowed to write 50,000 new words towards any project; it doesn't have to be a brand new story. So I'm using it to continue the first draft of Starfighters, which was at about 55K words on November 1. (I'm guessing the first draft will finish around 150K, so I'll still have a lot to go after NaNo.)

Thoughts On NaNo

For me, NaNo has been absolutely awesome, as writing for me is a constant struggle against a perfectionism that often cripples me from getting any words on the page, or cunningly convinces me to procrastinate. Realizing that I absolutely cannot sit there and ruminate on things -- whether the prose itself, or what should happen next -- has allowed me to make and often surpass the daily goal quite regularly. I've had to give myself permission to just "write crap" to see where the story goes, and that's been very freeing.

One thing NaNo does is let you experience your story in a similar way to how you might read it (if reading fairly slow, 5-8 pages a day). The benefit is that you get to ride that wave of excitement and anticipation as you progress through your story, the same way a reader does. Except instead of needing to turn the pages, you're carried through in writing them.

Weirdly, I've actually found more balance in my life since November began. I think the sense of accomplishment that comes with making constant progress on the story is making it easier for me to enjoy my work, family time, and all my relationships. Even chores around the house seem more fun without the burden of "you aren't doing enough writing" weighing me down.

Not that NaNo isn't a struggle sometimes. Lack of sleep can be the worst thing, when you know what you want to write but are just so tired you can't form the words. At that point I've learned it's just best to quit and get some sleep, even if you don't make the target that day.

NaNo And Dramatica

With the blistering pace of writing for NaNo, I haven't been looking at my storyform that much. When normally I might be questioning whether my scene fits the current Signpost or a Variation from the Plot Sequence Report, I just haven't had time to worry about it! (But strangely, I have a feeling a lot of the scenes probably do. I'm just shying away from thinking about it.)

That said, I have been finding the storyform super helpful in all my scenes, as I can really feel it when a particular story point crops up. Especially things like the throughlines' Symptom and Response, and Issue, seem to be coming up all the time. And of course the OS Problem is driving everything.

Going Forward

I really like what NaNo has done for my experience of writing -- I'm enjoying it far more than before. It's hard to say what it's done for the writing itself; I know the prose is sometimes really clunky and will need a lot of editing, prettying up, or rewriting. But that's okay. And in some cases NaNo has probably improved the prose -- helped me let loose and write some passages fueled by a level of emotion or imagination that I might not otherwise have had.

Continue Daily Goals
Because of that, I want to try and keep up something similar to NaNo for the rest of my first draft. Maybe relax the daily goals a bit (1000 or 1200 words/day?), or make it weekly instead of daily targets? One of the keys though is keeping up the same writing pace -- aiming for around 300 words every fifteen minutes, giving me time to take a few breaks and still hit 1000 words/hour. I think that pace is what makes the writing more fun and inspiring, keeps me "in" the story instead of in my head.

Scene Planning
It's important to remember the importance of scene planning for hitting that pace though. Before I start the actual writing, I need to have a sense of what's happening and where it's taking place (setting) in order to make things flow. And I've learned it's paramount for the setting to somehow inspire me; even when the dialog is awesome and should carry the scene, I struggle unless I can ground everything in some interesting setting. (I recently tried a scene in a biochem lab, and even though the conversation was crucial and awesome, I really struggled. I guess it reminded me too much of university chem labs which I hated. Moving the scene outdoors, to a billionaire's gorgeous backyard at night and the woods where he's built a shrine to his wife, made all the difference.)