Sunday, 30 November 2014

National Novel Writing Month 2014 - The NaNo Diaries!

Obviously I haven't been particularly active on here this month... but it's because I have been typing frantically away, working on my project for NaNoWriMo 2014 - the same old story, adding on to 'The Great Couch Happening of 1969'. And while the blog and my Facebook page have been kinda quiet, I've been keeping track of my progress in my little purple notebook. Nonexistent readers, I present to you...

(Thanks to my brother Nathan for scanning this header in while my laptop is dead. Oh yeah, I don't even mention in the following diaries that I had no laptop at all this month. Tried to turn it on on the night of October 31st and it never booted up.)

I didn't kick off right away at midnight - because when midnight rolled around I was still reassembling Doppler's cage! But I got a good 600 words in before going to bed at around 1:30am, which establishes the beginnings of my 'Last Day' arc and the beginning of my [REDACTED BECAUSE SPOILERS] short story.
Today being a Saturday and me being off work, I was able to go to the write-in! Jason and I had lunch at Maggie May's after bumping into Mike (good pal from the college days!) and his dad. I had the nicest veggie burger ever, and then we headed on to Costa Tithebarn.
My little Kindle served me excellently - in the table on page 47 of my journal you can see my word count progress as the write-in went on. We had two sprints and I managed about 800-900 words between those.
So far I'm feeling okay about NaNo, but still unsure as to where I'm going; definitely beats last year's day one feeling of uncertainty and despair, when my laptop was broken and I had no idea what I was even doing.
Tomorrow I would like to start on my Clarietta and Iestyn arcs. It would help to have two more storylines on the go for when the wind threatens to leave my sails. Onwards, into Day Two!

Day Two of NaNo, and this is the first day of the month where I haven't had to go out, meet anybody etc - I've been able to stay in and just write.
Of course, this is after I cleaned out Archie's cage. I put him in his newly cleaned cage on the bed to free up my desk, sat down at about 3pm and then worked on and off until about 10pm.
I was gonna try and stick to my NaNo calendar by making today a 10k day - but it's early NaNo, and I haven't really planned much plot wise, and the plot is going just a tiny bit slow as a result.
However, I now have another plot line underway; my Iestyn and co sub arc is catching up now in length to the "Last Day" arc, which really should be the shorter of the five. Spenser Spencer has taken the opportunity to bolt from these strange men (Iestyn, Jeremiah and The Clock) who have abducted him, and is now lost in Edinburgh, 1666.
I would really like to start my Clarietta and maybe my Sanctuary arcs tomorrow. I just really need to flick through the novel, figure out what's been written so far and from there decide where to go next.
And this is the main pitfall of not planning anything!

Okay! I've finally started work on the Clarietta arc, as you can see from the above table.
I had a few things to do in town today, so I went in early and when I had finished my shopping, set up my Kindle in Cafe Nero and got in a good 1k!
Obviously it's been slow going, being that this is one of the least developed arcs I have so far, but I've plodded on and managed a respectable word count today. I'm currently second on NaNo Faces, just behind Dawn! That's never happened before!
(A later addition to this diary: That 1k came from a lovely little addition I made to a crucial scene I had previously written, appropriately titled "the awkward scene". I was in Nero, headphones in and listening to Barclay James Harvest's debut album when I decided to write the aftermath of that awkward scene to the tune of two of their very lovely songs, titled "Need You Oh So Bad" and "I Can't Go On Without You". I think those songs capture the characters' feelings pretty well!)

Things continue to go well, and I now have something written for all of my intended story arcs! I wrote a decent amount across all of them yesterday and only fell short of my goal of 13336 words by a couple of hundred.
Tomorrow is Pottsy's write-in at Starbucks; I'll be getting there at around 3 so I'm confident that I'll be able to catch up and hopefully exceed my goal.
To be honest, one more word sprint would have seen me on target today, but I'd written about 3900 words and I was tired and I didn't want to burn myself out like I usually do when I write a lot of words.
Tell you what, though, the NaNo site must be inundated with a lot of traffic because there are error 404s right now wherever you look. Oh yeah, and Timmy died a couple of times in the chat tonight - I noticed it had gone eerily quiet and there was a distinct lack of foofings and defenestrations. I tried to take over but - meh, I'm a crap chat bot.
I'm still listed as second on NaNo Faces, but if Hannah wasn't doing her 500 drabbles challenge I would probably be third. By now she would easily have surpassed at least 20k but with her plan she could probably only do 55k before some of her pieces no longer constitute as drabbles?? Is that how drabbles work?? I dunno, I'm too verbose to write them most of the time!
(Later: Nope, according to Hannah in a more recent conversation, a drabble has to be exactly 100 words! So I have never written a successful drabble :P)

I can't be bothered working out how many words I've written today (I'm on the train, away from the luxury of WiFi and the super handy NaNo calculator that does all of that stuff for me), but I'm pretty sure that I managed to write about 4000 words, probably more. I actually made my quota for the day with a few word sprints to go so I thought what the hell, may as well get ahead while I still had the energy to do so.
Pottsy's write-in was great as usual. I kinda overestimated the time it would take for me to get there so I was there 2nd earliest, even though my journey is probably one of the most time consuming. After Pottsy arrived at half three, we had about two sprints an hour, starting at 4pm. So that was eight sprints by the time we left at eight, and I managed just about five hundred words per sprint.
After that, we headed through the misty bonfire night air and to the Shipping Forecast pub. Me, Pottsy and John had a drink and a chat and then Pottsy updated me on the RP session that I had missed while we walked to our respective means of getting home. The train was delayed by like half an hour while the driver was still coming in from Manchester Vic, but that's okay because we're on the move now and I'm in no great rush to get home. I would like to cuddle Boffin though.

I didn't write much at all on Day Seven, and the day before that managed just over the basic daily goal for NaNo by getting 1700 words written.
Apart from the things on the "Work Needed" list, my Laz and co arc is pretty much written I think! [YET MORE DETAILS REDACTED BECAUSE SPOILERS]
So, it's just my other arcs and my "Work Needed" list to cross off now!

My finishing count for yesterday after the (Saturday) write-in was 23188 words. It's crazy how close to 25k I am!
Of course, I had a few not so productive days on the sixth and seventh, but they were totally worth it because I still wrote something, and 500 words a day is still good progress, and also it was while lying in bed on the night of Day Seven and wondering where to go next with my storyline that I came up with a brilliant idea for where to go next with my Iestyn and co storyline, involving an unexpected new antagonist! I just had to make a note of it in my NaNo journal, there was no way I was gonna let that one escape me!
But yes, the write-in was a lot of fun today. I was the first there so I got a lot of work done while waiting for the others, then Anna and Rhi came, and then Megan. After that, people gradually filled up our usual writing space and there was a decent attendance in the end. I managed about 3k at the write-in and another 700ish at home after Doctor Who. Would have done more but Nathan wanted to watch The Mighty Boosh while his PC is still in for upgrades, so we binged that for a while.
So yeah, after an uncertain couple of days, I'm feeling confident about my novel again! It's usually the case; in the first week of NaNo I'm still "easing into" what I'm writing, and then I get excited all over again and things really take off.
I just wish I had my laptop back so I could see how many pages I've done across the whole thing. That would be awesome.

I didn't count my words in one of the little tables I've been using but today's finishing count was 25010. I hit my quota for the day, realised I'd also hit 25k, and then decided to go to bed.
It's been another tough day for writing, so I put my headphones in and really knuckled down. Doing a couple of word sprints in the chat helped massively as well.
Quite a bit of my work today has been on my Clarietta and Sanctuary arcs, which are definitely the two that need the most work. Maggie is currently seeing broken reality for herself, and in the Sanctuary, Specimens 23912129113 and 451426512 have gathered everybody together because they know that something lies beyond that strange, clinical realm...

I haven't written anything on here for a good few days but things are going okay. Gonna admit, I'm definitely not on track for 100k because it's been kinda on and off for me lately, but I finished Day Twelve with only 200 words to go until 30k and my next star off Pottsy, so things are still going well. I could probably manage 75k this year, which is definitely a good amount.
My week off work ended on the ninth, so I haven't been able to make it to any of the write-ins this week. I should be at the write-in next Wednesday (19th November), so hopefully I will have earned my star for 40k by then.
And I have another week off at the end of this month! From the 24th to the 30th I have all the time in the world to write, so 75k is definitely doable.

So... obviously I haven't added to my NaNo diary much this week. I've had a few tough writing days during week two and I'm currently not even on target to reach 75k. I'll still definitely hit 50k though.
Laura and I have gotten together twice to write, which has been great and really helpful. We've been doing some much-needed sprints and she's doing excellently; at her current pace I reckon she'll smash past 50k on the 25th, maybe before?
It's great because it's her first NaNo and she's doing so well! I'm so glad she finally decided to give it a go :)

As you can tell from my Day Nineteen progress table, I am on a roll again!
Today was a Wednesday, and mercifully I had an earlier shift so even though I had to get up stupidly early (boo), I was actually able to get to Pottsy's write-in.
I've only really been working on my Stan spin-off story today, and I've progressed the plot pretty well. I think that tomorrow, I shall give my Clarietta arc some much-needed love and attention. It's been a few days since I worked on it but thankfully I left it in a pretty good place, mid-scene where I like it so it'll be easier for me to start and get a good flow going.
Today, I've written a total of 3873 words and my average per day has crept up to 2298. I would really love to push that average up to 2500 so I'll be on track for 75k so I might even churn another couple hundred words out - maybe I'll even try and cross some stuff off the "Work Needed" list. It would be nice to have the story feeling more complete.
Some great banter at the write-in today, though. Being metaphorically reborn by Yoko Ono, sleep paralysis and freaky faceless crones on the edge of your vision, and snapping people's shoes when they steal your drink at the bar. Afterwards me, Jason and Pottsy went to get noodles at a place called Wok&Go; never been there before but the veggie boxes are brilliant!

Today was my day off, and I was determined to write at least 3100 words - the daily average I will henceforth need to hit 75k.
At first I decided to ain for 500 words an hour - a manageable goal that I could do by adding little 100 word chunks onto every arc. But eventually that plan went to pot (in hindsight, dribbling out bits of plot like that probably meant I wasn't able to get a good flow going) - I still ended up with a good 3.3k written across all but my "Stan" short story though. I finished a lot earlier than I intended and my word count is currently at 47k. Not long to go now before I can call NaNoWriMo 2014 a win!
I've been adding to my Laz and Co story arc today, working on some of the items from the "Work Needed" list. Specifically I've been working on the city of gentlemen zombies, filling in that gap in the manuscript before I move on to the next. Gotta be honest, though, I don't think this book will be finished at the end of November, once again. I'll be closer to the end at least, and the main arc is definitely done except for the aforementioned gaps.

I didn't write much today. I'm only about 2k away from passing the 50k mark and I've had a busy few days for writing, so I thought I would take it easy today, especially while it was also quite a tough day at the day job.
So far, my NaNo experience has been pretty good. Progress has been off and on, and those "on" days have been vital so that I could have days like today. I've accepted that I probably won't make 100k, possibly not even 75k, and that's fine - because I've made some pretty good progress on my book. I'll be working on the damn thing into 2015, most likely, but what the heck. I'm young, I have plenty of time to get it done. The writing process is one best enjoyed anyway, not rushed in the sake of money or prestige or fame.

Today was a creeping start for me. I began on the brink of that last one thousand words, determined that today would be the day where I finally crossed the finish line.
It was tough going in the beginning. I kept obsessively counting my words to find I'd only written fifty when it felt like I'd done paragraphs and paragraphs. The end crept closer, and closer still, and then finally, at three to four in the afternoon, I checked my word count again and it stood at 50118.
Tell you what, though, I love my little Kindle to bits and it has been a godsend this month, but when it comes to selecting larger bits of text, it doesn't half take ages. It took me about ten minutes to select five chunks of text, paste into my validation document, and then copy and paste the lot into the word count validator on the NaNo site. And one of my rats, Erza, decided to walk across my keyboard while I was doing it; it's amazing that she didn't step on the backspace and erase the whole thing.
The on and off progress has been tough. Obviously it can be easily remedied by just putting words on the page, but my plan is pretty vague and I don't like writing incredulous nonsense simply to progress the plot. At the same time, I still want my book to be funny and freewheeling, so it's frustrating.
I'm also getting pangs of sadness when I think about how every word brings me closer to the end of the book. Another 50k will probably see it done and that's not all that long to go, considering I've just done that in 23 days. These characters might be complete idiots but I love them and I've really enjoyed writing them.
Well, all the more reason to write some short stories and spin-offs!

I've decided that I'm not going to beat myself up for only writing 600ish words today. I wrote the 50k needed, made some decent progress on my novel, and I think I can just take it easy now, write at my own pace.
One thing I've finally learned after all these years of doing NaNoWriMo is that I do better when I don't try and commit to what is, for me, an extreme goal (i.e. 100k). I'm probably better going for the 50k - a doable yet respectable goal that won't stress me the hell out. In the past when I've aimed for 50k, I've often surprised myself and managed to write way more.
Obviously I can manage 75k in a month as I've done it a few times before, and I think that if I had a good month and planned my novel well I could easily manage 100k, but I would rather keep NaNoWriMo manageable and fun.
My sub arcs are beginning to feel like they take up a decent chunk of the plot! The Clarietta arc is probably about 25k words long now - maybe about the same for the Iestyn arc, but I'm not so sure as I would need to add the words up.
... okay, the Iestyn arc is 39281 words long. I had a file with all the scenes sitting around. The Clarietta arc is 28209 words long, obviously because I started it a lot more recently. All in all I would say the non-Laz stuff accounts for almost a quarter of my novel.
So... if I could round Iestyn off in another 25k, Clarietta in another 32k, Sanctuary in another 7k maybe...
Or even less, to be honest. I wouldn't want to stretch the plot out pointlessly with the book being huge as it is.

I managed a good 1200ish words today and began work on a "Work Needed" item that somehow evaded my proper list - [REDACTED BECAUSE YET MORE SPOILERS!]. The arc felt a bit patchy for a while but now I'm working on filling in the gaps, it feels like it's all starting to come together.
Tell you what, though, this book is getting awfully long. It's going on 900 pages, maybe 1000 depending on the font size. Trimming it down is going to be fun. Like how do I make this monstrosity a reasonable length without losing any of the heart or humour of the novel?
I dunno. It can be done. There's just gonna be a lot of heavy editing involved, and a lot of wrangling to avoid totally losing my intended vision.

Aw man, just realised that today is my last write-in of NaNo 2014. Me and those of us who are in the RP group have decided to do the RP session next Saturday after all. It's been a tough decision because I want to do the write-in as well, but I would really like to get to an RP session while I have this week off - I missed the last one due to work and I'm not sure what we're doing next month with the last Saturday of December being the 27th...
ANYWAY. The write-in. Me and Laura went today, and it was her first ever write-in! Between sprints we played Story War since Pottsy had yet to test out his new Volume Two set, and it was hilarious - but difficult; I couldn't argue my way out of a paper bag. My definite highlights were my hero gems attempting to take Pottsy's journalist mutant to court for slander regarding his smear articles slamming germs and Laura's monster truck, and when Laura's therapist had my arsonist fox detective sectioned. Setting everything on fire in an effort to kill the therapist and Hannah's sexy blob only helped Laura's case on my firestarting lunacy.
I didn't get as much done at this write-in as I would normally do, but I still got in a decent amount of words and discovered that I know sweet bugger all about nineteenth century Belfast and gaols in nineteenth century Belfast. But I wrote a good ol' tavern brawl!
It's weird because I wrote loads today, but nothing of it was particularly memorable. Some filling in the gaps, some bridging scenes, some pretty linear and forgettable stuff. Hopefully tomorrow the words will feel better.
After the write-in we popped into Wok&Go (NOM) and then chatted a bit before going our separate ways. Laura and I got our 9:20 train just as the whistle was blowing, and now I'm home. Shared some of my noodles with the rats because I can never finish a Wok&Go regular box, and now I'm in bed with Boffin and Burrito running about.

Most of the work I've done today has been typing up these NaNo Diaries so they'll be ready to post on my blog, but I got a good 600 words done today on the Iestyn arc.
I was doing a bit of research for the novel today and realised yet again how awkward it would be if the police ever seized any of my devices. Today I've been Googling 'undetectable poisons', 'cyanide' and 'Irish names', so clearly I want to murder someone, run away to Dublin and change my name to something so stereotypically Irish that they'll have to believe that my name is Patrick McLeprechaun, I've lived there my whole life and murdered nobody at all. Also, I've reached page 100 in my NaNo notebook! Wow!

After the 27th, with a good 60k under my belt, I decided to give myself a couple of days to just chill and enjoy the remainder of my week off.
So, now that NaNoWriMo is basically done and my first ever winner's shirt is on the way, it's time to look to the future, to formulate a plan and charge on towards finishing my novel.
See, another thing I've learned from my many years of doing NaNoWriMo is that I tend to burn myself out and then barely work for the rest of the year. I would like to end that habit now and carry on writing at a more relaxed pace. Maybe if I aim for 1k a day, which would be 500 words on each of the main arcs...
When those are finished, I would polish off the 'Sanctuary' arc, then take a break from "Couch" to finish my "Stan" short story, and after that, I would go back to heavily edit "Couch".
This month has been a lot of fun. I've gotten out of the house a lot more than I would normally do, got to write alongside old friends and encourage the new. As always, I've met some wonderful people - and I hope that they'll all be back for next year! Oh, and I also hope that next year when people ask what I'm writing, the answer won't be "the same bloody book that I've been writing since 2009"!
But anyway, farewell NaNo 2014. You were fun, you were stressful, you expanded my book in ways I never expected. You taught me a lot as usual about myself, about discipline and my habits both good and bad. Same time next year?