NaNoWriMo 2014 Update — Week 4

Well, NaNoWriMo is over. It’s December 1, 2014, and I have written 42,027 words that I had not written precisely 30 days ago. How crazy is that?

42,000 words. Less than one thousand fewer words than there are in The Giver. Four thousand words shy of Fahrenheit 451, five thousand words shy of The Great Gatsby. More words than The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

That’s insane.

I’m not saying that my words are necessarily good. Many of them are not. A small number of them (less than 500) are parenthetical notes to myself that need to be removed. There are at least five scenes that need to go (not least because some are duplicates written in different tenses).

But I wrote almost 170 pages of a novel. In thirty days.

Did you catch that? Thirty days.

Eighteen of those days, I had my regular job to go to. Three of those days, I worked from home. Eight of those days, I had to pick up my daughter from daycare after work.  The remaining twelve days, I was not working but was primarily in charge of my daughter the entire day.

And I still wrote an average of more than five pages of text per day. One thousand four hundred words per day. Even though I had a life to live, and I lived it.

During that month, I also edited seventy-five pages of literary fiction and heavily edited 150 pages of a middle grade adventure novel. In addition to writing every single day. There wasn’t a single day in November that I didn’t write something, even though my low was 76 words. Those were 76 words I wouldn’t have written otherwise, and I hit my low after I reached 40,000 words, which was my goal for NaNo this year.

Some observations:

  • I met the 1,667-word goal on 10 days, a solid 1/3.
  • I had an abysmal writing day (less than 500 words) 4 times.
  • The other 16 days were somewhere in between.
  • Pantsing this novel worked really well for me, to my surprise.
  • Some of my best work came when I was in competition for something.
  • I will always find a way to distract myself from what really matters.
  • The work tends to get done anyway.

Some expansion on my observations:

Pantsing my novel only worked well because I spent months absorbing a plot and structure plan that would work for me. Like I mentioned before, I read and highlighted and re-read a book about how theme should inform the whole story. I used Scrivener to make notes of the plot points I wanted to hit, and put the scenes inside each area as subfolders (some, like “things get worse”, have a ton of scenes, while others, like “relational midpoint” have only one scene).

I knew when I would hit writer’s block, and didn’t let that stop me from writing. My worst days were at the 30k and 40k marks. I expected to hit a wall at 30k, so with some brainstorming help with a CP, I was able to get through it. And I only stopped writing at 40k because I could, and I was exhausted, and I wanted to enjoy Thanksgiving. (which I did. It was wonderful.)

I was wrong when I told myself I could only write by planning. And by forcing myself into word battles (with the lovely @seekellytse and @sarahrgleason, and with my wonderful husband as he did dishes, etc.), I forced my plot to move forward, one 30-minute segment at a time. I’m starting to understand what Stephen King meant when he called himself a pantser. He understands story structure, so he can know what he’s aiming for at certain word counts as far as emotions and upset are concerned. That style, surprisingly, worked for me this round. (at least I think so. We’ll see on revision if the structure holds up.)

It’s amazing what happens when you put your butt in a chair, your hands on a keyboard, and let the story unfold in thousand-word segments. (Thanks, Sooz!) You get somewhere. Slowly, but surely, you get somewhere. The characters came to life. Side characters showed up that I hadn’t planned on. I wrote some of my best work. I wrote some of my worst work. I banged my head against the wall for one weekend. But I wrote. (and watched too much TV. But I wrote!) Romances piece together. The bad guy gets his deeper motivation. The plot thickens.

All in all, I loved writing my novel, and I hope I don’t have to slow down too much in December while my freelance work picks up. Then, a break in January, and to work editing in February. I can’t wait. I’m already pleased as punch with this story, and with revision, it should only get better.

(Oh, and for an excerpt? You don’t get one this week. I’m too late in the MS and too far from my laptop to make it happen. Plus, I’m beginning to forget which words I wrote when. But know this: I’m very happy with it. Maybe not as happy as I am with the opening scene, but once again, all together this time: that’s what revision is for.)

How did NaNo go for everyone else? Was it better than you expected? Worse?


  1. That. is. awesome. This is good inspiration for me. I’m trying to finish a MG novel this month. I’m at 12K and want to end up around 35K. So far I’m waffling between- I can do this! And- Yeah, right. It’s not gonna happen. Tomorrow my goal is 2000 words. Eep…

    • Thanks, Leandra! I’m glad it’s inspiration for you. I imagine the 12k point in a MG novel is similar to the 30k block that I hit, since you’re about 1/3 through. You can do it though! I have complete faith in you. Good luck with your 2k today. 🙂

  2. High five! You kicked butt! I only lasted about a week or so. It turned out my WIP only needed 15K to reach the end, and then after that i got another edit letter, so NaNo went on the backburner. But that is okay. I finished my WIP which was important to me, so my goals were met

    • Thank you! I’m still kind of in awe that I met my personal goal during my first “real” NaNo, while working, freelancing, and caring for my daughter. I guess it just proves to me how much time I typically waste.

      Hey, finishing your WIP is more important than an arbitrary NaNo win. 🙂 Is that your Masters WIP? And I imagine that working on your edit letter is more important, too. After all, that book has a tentative pub date. 🙂

    • Thanks! I just finished re-reading and I’m really pleased with the first draft as far as first drafts go.

      It’s so hard to think that 74 words in a MS that will be 74,000 is worthwhile, but it definitely is. 🙂 Glad you’re learning that hard lesson, too.

  3. wow, good on you for getting so far!! was interesting reading about your experience – it was my first one so I really struggled – I had never attacked a novel before! if you’re interested, my experience is written right here:

    love your blog – will give it a follow! 🙂

    have a great day! and good luck with your blogging endeavours (and the actual writing bit of course 😉 )

    • Thank you! It was my first official NaNo, but my second attempt at writing a novel in a month. I also had the idea for a year, so it had been germinating for a long time. I took a look at your story and left a comment. I think your tenacity is awesome. Thanks for the follow and the comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *