Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Four Steps to NaNoWriMo Success So Far

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 7, 2017

My word count is going to the novel rather than the blog, so I apologize. It has also been a surprisingly busy couple of weeks.

A little under a week into NaNoWriMo, and I’ve added about 15,000 words to the novel. This is possibly my most productive week ever. It probably helps that we finished binging Stranger Things 2 on Halloween, so that hasn’t been a temptation. (It was great BTW).

Tonight, before midnight, I expect to add at least 1000 more words to the total to finish out the week. So we’re talking around 2200 words per day. Not quite “Pulp Speed,” but nice.  There have been a couple of nights when I have been REALLY tired when I wrote, and while that has caused me to have some really funky ideas when I found myself dozing off at the keyboard, I’m not looking forward to editing what I wrote. While it’s not stream-of-consciousness or anything like that, it has included some extraneous details or some baffling sentence structures. Then again, I sometimes write that when I’m fully awake and alert, so who knows?

I had about 55K words left to finish the novel when the the month began (I’m shooting for around 80k total length). However, I am also expecting to get edits back on the first novel within a couple of weeks, so the more I can front-load the writing, the better.

A few things that have worked better for me so far this time around:

#1 – Following Rachel Aaron’s “2K to 10K” concept, I take a few minutes at the beginning of a session or before a sprint to map out in my head what is going to be happening in what I’m about to write. Sometimes this is easy, because I’m just going off my outline and I haven’t deviated too far from it yet. Sometimes this doesn’t happen, and I end up discovery writing a bit (which is usually slower but leads to some very interesting places), but I still have to have a good start point and some general goals for what is supposed to be happening.

#2 – I do writing sprints. It’s how things get done. It’s hard to say, “I’m going to write for three hours straight” and just go for it. But going for 30 minutes with a ten minute break afterwards? That’s easy. It usually doesn’t take me too long to get “into the zone,” either, surprisingly. Maybe five minutes. It also proved to be a really great way to measure development time. I find that I can generally write between 450 – 750 words in a 30-minute sprint, generally centering on around 600 words. That’s pretty measurable. I know about what it will take to write 2K words per night (about 4 sprints, or 3 sprints plus some non-sprint writing time), or to finish a chapter. And I can actually try different processes to try and improve my averages.

#3 – I found a night-owl writing partner. I have a writer friend who keeps kind of the same freaky schedule I do, and we just use an online chat to talk about what we are doing, cheer each other on, pace each other, and do our sprints together. It’s motivating, both to get started (“Hey, let’s quit fiddling around and start SPRINTING!”) and to keep going for ONE MORE SPRINT.

#4 – Tying these all together is the idea of schedule. I’ve got hours that I work. Breaks between the sprints are critical, but only so far as they make the sprints work. I find the hours that work for me in my schedule, which may be a little scattered (especially on weekends), but those are work hours. Treating them that way means helps reduce the temptation to do other things.

Anyway, these steps, plus having a day job that is only half as insane as it was last year, plus having another years’ worth of experience under my belt, probably all contributed to having a solid start this time around. The real trick is sustaining it, improving on it, and making it more of a long-term habit. I’ve got a lot of really cool games and stories to write, yet, so I really need to be efficient!

(The cover is from StoryHack #1, in which you can find my story, “Retrieving Abe”)

Filed Under: Writing - Comments: 3 Comments to Read

  • Modran said,

    Yeah. For the first year since 2009, I haven’t even STARTED the NaNoWriMo. Each year had been worse in terms of word count, I think we’re going on 0 this year :(. I’m so braindead after work I can’t doing anything more taxing than reading or… Watching Stranger THings season 2. And even then, no more than 2 episodes.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    It can be HARD when real life is taking its toll, no question about it. Since I’m a programmer as a day job, I find its easier to write at night after a long day of coding than it is to program, but only somewhat. It’s hard to do ANYTHING productive after a 12+ hour day.

  • A NaNoWriMo Winner is Me. But… said,

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