NaNoWriMo is over, and I managed to complete my 50,000 words, though it was a pretty hard drive to the finish. Here’s my stats for the month, as lifted from the site. As you can see, I had a late start, a slow start, and a steep climb at the end.
This one was tough. I went into the month not knowing what I was going to be writing and it slowed me down quite a bit. I learned a long time ago that I’m an outliner, and I was really worried about not having an outline by the end of October. By November 20th I was 13,000 words behind pace and I had to find all kinds of new writing time in order to make it up. I surprised myself by writing several thousand words on my way to and from SFContario. Taking the bus saved me cash, and was more comfortable than expected. Plus it freed me from driving my own car, so I gained about 10 hours of writing time. It wasn’t great progress, but it kept me from falling further behind than I already was. If I had elected to take my car, I would have probably failed to reach my 50,000 words.
That’s part of the point of NaNoWriMo. To rearrange your life so that you find writing time you never thought you had. I struggled through the first three weeks, then I put things on hold and spent as much time as possible writing. I’m not a particularly fast writer, and I’m easily distracted, so it was a question of finding bits of time in which I could write a couple of hundred words, and to try and snatch those snippets of time wherever I could. I spent the last 10 days closing the gap by about 8,000 words, and managed roughly 5500 on November 30th to finish with about 9 minutes to spare.
Honestly, after a really rough summer, I wanted to use Nano as a reason to force myself into writing through the judicious use of a deadline. I needed to kick myself back into writing, and this allowed me to do it by focusing on an easy target (not that 50,000 words is easy, just that it gives you one single thing to target. X words in a month, X words in a day, X words in a sitting, write write write…) and by surrounding myself with people doing the same thing. Mission accomplished, writing doesn’t feel like the impossible thing it was two or three months ago.
So what did I get out of all this? Mostly, a bunch of words which will need to be killed, but that’s okay. I also reinforced what I already knew about my need to outline. With a partial outline on day five, I found myself needing to start or risk not being able to finish, and I found myself with many new ideas midway through a chapter and writing things which I knew would make me choose later on. I’d write two chapters, both taking the novel in different directions, knowing that one would have to go eventually but not knowing which. Normally this is the sort of thing I fix while outlining, bouncing ideas around until I have something relatively solid from start to finish. It’s much easier to toss one third of an outline and to rewrite, than to toss one third of a novel and rewrite. Call it laziness, but I think it’s just logical. I do, however, have a good grasp of where this story is going now, so from here on in I should be able to detail the rest of the novel and write it properly.
Another thing I learned is that my netbook ins’t as great as expected. I love the portability and the 8-hour battery life, but the real estate leaves a lot to be desired. I use a large screen at work, and my old laptop had a decent widescreen display, but this netbook only has 10.1 inches diagonally and it doesn’t show very much. Worse is the keyboard. I was worried at the beginning that I’d have issues adjusting to touch-typing on the smaller keyboard layout, but it’s been more of a literal pain. My hands are in a fairly cramped position on the smaller keyboard, and it causes me joint pains and swelling after extended periods of writing. Part of me knows that some of that is increasing age and 25+ years of mousing and keying, but I didn’t have this much pain before I started using the netbook, so I’m starting to think it’s the main culprit. When I eventually replace my deceased laptop, keyboard size will definitely be more of a factor than I’d anticipated. Also, when all I expected to run on my netbook was Scrivener and the occasional browser window, it was fine. Now that I’m using it more and more to replace the functions of my laptop, I’m realizing that 1GB of RAM is pretty damned pitiful. Scrivener plus Chrome was fine. Scrivener plus Chrome with 7-8 tabs open (some websites are worse than others), andLibreOffice for a tracking sheet, and things start to get bogged down. Gods help me if I ever try to run iTunes from this thing. Doing the character search and replace for the NaNoWriMo word validation took several minutes, during which I couldn’t do anything else at all with the netbook. So I might keep the Acer as a supplementary device, but it’s never going to cut it as my primary machine.
So there. For now, I will continue this novel. I expect I’ll be finished somewhere in March, at a slower pace than Nano, and leaving time for other projects. I’ll be writing it on the netbook since that’s all I’ve really got at the moment. And I’ll be writing it with a much better idea of where I want to take the whole thing, which will make for only a painful, as opposed to excruciating, time of hammering this rough draft into a second, more coherent work. I’ll certainly keep posting about my progress.