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NaNoWriMo or Bust?

September 12, 2012

This is a first for me, so I thought I’d share this.

I like to set up deadlines and goals in my writing to give myself an idea of when I might finish a particular stage of a project. These goals can be word counts, (500 words a day on the work-in-progress, 50k words in a month) or number of scenes planned, or pages and scenes of revision.  The thing is, this being my first revision ever, it has been really hard to set goals because I have no idea how long things take. I’m tearing my story into scenes, reordering them, keeping old ones, writing new ones, all while doing research and critiques. I’ve had some scenes take me almost a week to get through after I wrote and rewrote them several times until I finally had them close to where I wanted them.

In other words, it’s hard to know when I’ll arrive if I don’t know how fast I’m going.

But now that I am more than halfway through this revision pass I had decided that 15k words per month was a realistic goal. With this in mind, my goal for September 30 was to get to 85k words edited, then by October 31 reach 100k, and by November 30 finish all 115k. I even gave up on NaNoWriMo so that I could finish this pass of my revision.

Well, guess what?

Today I crossed the 85k mark! Check your calendars, folks. It’s September 12!

So, now what? I guess I can reconfigure the goals, but in some ways that doesn’t feel like much of an incentive. I could take a few days off, but I love working on this, so that’s not much of a reward either.

I’ve settled on shooting for 90k by the end of September. And getting eight hours of sleep once in a while.

After that? Not sure, maybe, just maybe … NaNoWriMo?

How about you? Do you set intermediate goals for your writing? How do you reward yourself for achieving them?

  1. September 13, 2012 11:44 am

    Congratulations! 🙂

    Hope you’ll be joining us on Nano 🙂


    • September 13, 2012 8:21 pm

      I really hope I can join the Nano insanity, because not only will I get to write another first draft (which seems to be becoming a specialty of mine) but it will mean I have moved on to the next stage of this revision!

      You are going to be a great ML. 🙂

  2. September 14, 2012 1:59 am

    I won’t ever do a Nano, I think, but I am *seriously* impressed by you making and achieving all these goals…. nice one 🙂

    Good luck in November, you *know* you’re going to do it :)~

    • September 15, 2012 5:00 pm

      Thanks, Mark!
      Lots of words are something I seem to have a knack for. The revision part is much harder, but using the words as incentive seems to work.

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed–that is when I’m not using them to type. 😉

  3. September 14, 2012 4:26 pm

    Usually, I plan according to what is coming up in my non-writing life. I know now that my output is around 1000 words per sitting. Most times, the writing is reward enough, but when I need something more tangible I head to HBO for some guilty pleasure tv or to the store for tasty chocolate treats!

    • September 15, 2012 5:07 pm

      Hi Nancy,
      You’re so right. I need to account for the realities of my ‘non-writing’ life in my plans!

      Good idea about watching HBO. I like to have a Netflix movie ready for those times I just can’t write anymore. Nothing like a movie–a story that wraps up in less than two hours–to soothe my frazzled revision nerves.

  4. September 14, 2012 4:47 pm

    Congratulations! That’s very awesome 🙂

    When I was writing my first draft, I was pretty good about maintaining a quota of 1050 words a day. These days my writing habits are kinda messed up. I’m currently reassessing how I intend to learn how to do the revision because my progress with HTRYN has been so slow, so I’ll be reading a couple of books about editing and revision in the near future to see if I can get some new insight. In the meantime, I have some worldbuilding issues to straighten out, and I also need to do some pretty serious maintenance on a ton of notes I’ve been storing in several places and on several mediums.

    In the meantime, I try to do a little writing on most days just to keep the muscles going, and my current scribblings have given me sort of a proto-draft of a new short story set in the world of my WIP and using the same characters. I also have a couple other ideas for short story projects, so I might turn some attention to them to get some revision practice in on a smaller scale in case the experience would be helpful for a larger project.

    • September 15, 2012 5:13 pm

      That’s so cool that you’re writing a short story set in your story world.

      HTRYN is a long slog, but now that I’m nearing the end of it, I have to say it was worth it. I have read other approaches to story construction and revision, and all of them contain much the same concepts as we go through in HTRYN.
      Perhaps, if you find other revision approaches easier, you’ll come to HTRYN with fresh understanding, and probably make a much quicker trip through it.

      Revision progress is so much harder to track, which is why I was so excited to see that I’ve actually hit a target!

      • September 16, 2012 12:38 pm

        That’s awesome you’re nearing the end of your revision. I’m looking forward to reading your book 🙂

        Yeah, my WIP actually kicks off a series, and its premise lends itself really well to episodic content. My original plan was to create a series with a beginning and an end, with all the stuff in the middle being episodic so that the reading order didn’t really matter. Within that loose structure, I thought I might occasionally have a larger, more epic story arc split up into two or three books, and of course the reading order within those would be more important.

        I’m not sure if that’s ultimately going to be a good way to go, since I’ve come up with some plot threads in my WIP that might be great to pick up with in a direct sequel. But it’s still early. A good compromise might be writing a traditional series with a beginning, middle, and end, but with the episodic content sprinkled over it in the form of optional side-stories.

        But it doesn’t look like I actually need to figure that out to finish my first book, so it can wait 🙂

        • September 17, 2012 10:14 am

          Okay, now I’m really intrigued! It sounds like you have quite the story world planned, and I’m excited to read some tidbits from it.

          • September 17, 2012 5:41 pm

            Thanks 🙂 It’s certainly an awful lot of work to get things off the ground, but I’m learning a lot and still excited about everything, so I’m sure it’ll be worth all the effort I’ve been putting into it…someday 🙂

  5. September 18, 2012 7:49 am

    I love meeting goals. It feels so good. Congrats! 🙂

    • September 24, 2012 9:27 pm

      Thanks! The trick seems to be setting goals I can actually meet. 😉

  6. September 24, 2012 1:59 pm

    I tend to set daily goals for my writing, because I don’t have enough routine in my life to know what I will be doing Wednesday of next week. Which is how I like it. I am planning to do NaNoWriMo again, and I hope to add you to my buddy list! The most helpful tool they had for me was the daily graph, it really kept me going. Maybe I will have my husband make a graph for my revision in Excel…

    • September 24, 2012 9:31 pm

      That’s the tough thing about revising for me. It’s more like Chutes and Ladders than climbing up a daily graph. The good news is that I’m looking at possibly getting up to 95k revised by the end of the month! Yay!
      Yes, definitely, buddy me over at Nano. My handle is ‘Larkk’ (with an extra ‘k’ because, oddly enough, ‘lark’ was taken 😉 ) I haven’t been in there in awhile so I suppose I should go dust off the cobwebs!

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