By Dan Wells | November 10, 2008 - 9:07 am - Posted in Uncategorized

We’ve had just over a week of work: how’s it going? Week two is a lot harder than week 1, and might actually be the hardest of all, because the fun stuff is over and the work has begun, and you’re still thousands of words away from finishing. Tell us all about your victories, your setbacks, and your grandiose plans for the coming days of writing.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 10th, 2008 at 9:07 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

47 Comments

  1. November 10, 2008 @ 9:31 am


    I’m just shy of 13,000 words after last night’s session. I hit a wall a couple of days ago but made it through and am chugging along. On a good night I can get in 2,500-3,000 words before bed. I’m confident that I can get to 50K by the end of the month. I’m chronicling my progress on my blog each night after I write, so feel free to click my link and check in and see how I’m doing from time to time during the month.

    Posted by Sam
  2. November 10, 2008 @ 10:53 am


    Getting there! Just over 21,000 words so far, and still going strong. For now, at least.

    I hope to finish before Thanksgiving weekend… we’ll see.

    So far I’ve discovered that in any given scene, other people make far more interesting obstacles for my heroes than do inanimate objects like locked doors and hidden rooms. I’ll have to take advantage of this for the rest of the novel.

    Posted by Sean
  3. November 10, 2008 @ 11:25 am


    I’m plugging away much like the Tortise Who Waited Eagerly for Thanksgiving Break.

    Hmm, might be mixing my metaphors. Or fables. Whatever.

    Anyway, my idea is that novelling is like riding a bike: You can know all you want about the workings of the inner ear, central nervous system and Newtonian mechanics, but until you get on the bike and do it, you don’t know how to ride. Similarly, I’ve been building up my writing ‘fluency'; my hourly word counts are rising literaly every day, and although I’m not yet on pace to make 50k, if I keep improving, I might just make it yet.

    And, while I’d love to ‘win’, my real goal is to get all the way through a rough draft in one month, which, as I think I’ve posted before, tend to be ridiculously short.

    I prefer to think of them as ‘streamlined’.

    And in any case, I’m very glad for the experience! (I had a first last night: A character made a plot-altering suggestion on her own, with no help from me. They grow up so fast!)

    Posted by Jen
  4. November 10, 2008 @ 11:46 am


    People who don’t write never understand how independent characters can be–how can something that you created, who can neither do nor say anything unless you write it, do anything you don’t intend? And there’s no way to describe it; you just have to start writing and see for yourself. I don’t know how they do it or why, but they do it all the time.

    Posted by Dan Wells
  5. November 10, 2008 @ 11:47 am


    I’ve done so well so far – now at 39k and will hit 40 tonight – that my grandiose plan is to go for the 100k this year (I’ve reached 62k and 77k in the past.) I believe I get a NaNo Effect making me write faster than at any other time. It’s the deadline and the competition. My guesstimate for the story length is 100k, so I’m hoping I’ll also have The End by November 30th.

    Posted by junkfoodmonkey
  6. November 10, 2008 @ 11:57 am


    Btw, where’s this week’s podcast?

    Posted by Jen
  7. November 10, 2008 @ 12:11 pm


    Someone on a dutch forum posted the following link.
    http://lab.drwicked.com/writeordie.html
    It’s a system which annoys you as soon as you stop writing. It took a few minutes of getting used to but it helped me increase my productivity from 2000 words per day to 5000 today. I’m at 23k now, ready to hit the midway point tomorrow.
    The one for Nano that is, since my final goal is 150/200k by feb 1st.

    Posted by Chris
  8. November 10, 2008 @ 12:19 pm


    Where is this weeks podcast!? It’s like heroine for me! I need it! I need it!

    Posted by M
  9. November 10, 2008 @ 12:39 pm


    @ Dan:

    I know what you mean. I have a character who is supposed to be a calculating, heartless villain but he keeps hinting around that he’s conflicted internally about the villany that he’s being asked to perpetrate. He doesn’t think he’s as heartless and evil as he’s supposed to be, and he keeps trying to be respectful to the people I want him to act against. He acts against them, don’t get me wrong, just not in the exact way I expected him to.

    Posted by Sam
  10. November 10, 2008 @ 12:55 pm


    @Dan

    I know how it feels to lose control of characters, when I started writing I thought I had complete control, until I realised that two characters who weren’t supposed to had built up a relationship from a single action I had written months before hand. I couldn’t understand how their relationship had gotten away from me at all.

    When I’m telling people how I write I tell people that I put my characters into the scene and let them handle it just nudging them here and there to make sure that they stay on the main plot and achieve what the scene needed to.

    Then I get confused looks and asked for more detail on how it should work.

    Posted by Bluedarky
  11. November 10, 2008 @ 1:33 pm


    I’ve got a character who I thought was dead but surprised me by coming back to life!!! that bastard…

    Posted by S.M.
  12. November 10, 2008 @ 1:50 pm


    I have characters do stuff I don’t expect them to all the time. And sometimes stuff that I don’t want them to.

    When that happens I always end up scrambling for a way to make whatever they want to do work, because that’s when the best and most engaging writing gets done.

    You people and your high word counts are making me look bad! I’ve barely gotten started. What little time I’ve had so far to write has been devoted to filling plot holes as much as to actual writing (so I do have slightly more to show for it than the thousand words I’ve written since the start of November. It’s just invisible).

    I have the next two days off, though. Time to go see what I can do with those. Best of luck to everyone in week two.

    Posted by Raethe
  13. November 10, 2008 @ 1:59 pm


    @ S.M.:

    So is it a zombie story, a vampire story, or an “oops! he was supposed to be dead!” story?

    Posted by Sam
  14. November 10, 2008 @ 2:53 pm


    This just had to come right about the same time as finals and projects didn’t it. Ack senior year is college is not supposed to be this inconvenient!

    Posted by Jake
  15. November 10, 2008 @ 3:44 pm


    Jake, I feel you’re pain. I was originally gonna try to do nanowrimo, but i am way to busy this semester with my senior seminar and other classes.

    Posted by Peter
  16. November 10, 2008 @ 4:31 pm


    I’ve barely broken 7000. But hey, in that time I’ve but eight rather substantial smoking craters in the ground as well as deliver close to sixty tons of explosives to customers.
    As well, I have had to acquire a new computer, (peace be with you little brain box, you will be missed, even if your replacement is five times the computer you were) and get it set up, (still ongoing). Also I am dealing with a three year old with a broken arm.

    I’m sorry to sound like I’m offering up excuses, but I’m going out of my mind right now and for over an hour last night I was typing like mad before I realized I was one key off and everything I had written was garbage. STUPID NEW KEYBOARD!
    And YES! I do know I should be looking at the screen to see what I’m typing, YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW I’M SUPPOSED TO BE LOOKING AT THE SCREEN?!?! I already told you, I’m loosing my mind right now and I’m only making it worse!

    Breath, relax, think calming thoughts…
    Aw screw it, I’m gonna go shoot something. Blasting stinking soda bottles right now sounds like just the thing. Where did I put that shotgun….

    AND WHERE IS THIS WEEK’S PODCAST?!?!

    Posted by WEKM
  17. November 10, 2008 @ 4:53 pm


    @ Sam:
    It’s more of a “Divine Intervention” story. jk its more of a thing where my villain steals magic from his victims. I had thought that meant his victims died until I realized, well, they didn’t.

    @ WEKM: Don’t feel bad for offering excuses; that’s what we’re here for.

    Posted by S.M.
  18. November 10, 2008 @ 4:58 pm


    Actually, this week is when I finally dug in and got *started*.

    Work picked up last week and ate into my “real life” time, and as a result I wound up only pecking out about 1,000 words. On the heels of Philip Pullman’s pep talk, though, I decided I needed to create some structured writing time. So this morning, I got up an hour early and wrote for that hour. That was painful for me (sticky note on the snooze button said “GO WRITE 1 HR”). I plan to keep it up. We’ll see if I can pull it off.

    3,600-ish, now, though :-)

    Posted by Tim Keating
  19. November 10, 2008 @ 5:24 pm


    Good, but I keep getting side tracked by polishing Book 1 lol

    Posted by Bitter
  20. November 10, 2008 @ 5:50 pm


    No podcast makes Jame angry! You no want Jame angry!

    Posted by Jame
  21. November 10, 2008 @ 5:53 pm


    Oh god, I can’t believe I set up a pun like that. Now I know I’m losing my mind.

    Posted by WEKM
  22. November 10, 2008 @ 6:07 pm


    @Jake: I’m impressed you’re trying it your senior year. Last year I was too cowardly; I used my thesis as an excuse.

    I’m at just over 10k now, which is not far enough along to make me happy. It’s one thing when characters run off in their own direction, but it’s something entirely different when they refuse to move forward at all. I think I need to call a conference with them… get a few things sorted out.

    After I go get some pizza. I need brainfood!

    Posted by Ruthann
  23. November 10, 2008 @ 7:54 pm


    I’m just over 22k so far. I’m feeling a little winded, but happy I have Veteran’s day off for writing.

    I think the third week is a little harder for me than the second, followed by the sheer determination and last minure panicking of the fourth week.

    I’m also so glad I went into this with an outline. It helps soothe the “too tired to write” voices.

    Posted by 42
  24. November 10, 2008 @ 8:15 pm


    Jake – I’m in exactly the same boat. I’m in my fourth year of university too (we don’t use terms like senior and freshmen or whatever else in this country, but hey). I’ve got a ridiculous amount of not-novel related projects on the go, too…

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that they actually scheduled NaNo in November (ie, busy month for EVERYONE) deliberately. The moral of the story seems to be that people work better under pressure. Or something.

    Posted by Raethe
  25. November 10, 2008 @ 10:30 pm


    I procrastinated signing up until the 6th, and then I’ve written every other day. I got a nice big chunk in tonight though, and am now sitting just under 5K. I’m glad I’m not the only one working to catch up to the pace. We can do it!

    Posted by Mark
  26. November 11, 2008 @ 12:05 am


    I’ve hit 15,307. O-M-G! I thought at one point I was doing good then see that, nope, I’m not. I’ve really had to break my goals down (going for 25k by the 15th) so I don’t get too discouraged, but it’s been a lot harder than I had thought it could be. I only have 5-days to get 10k! 2000 might not seem like much but I only have 3-4 hours a day to do it in and I’m avg. 400 wds/hr (Yeah, I don’t type fast) so I’m trying to make up word cout on weekends and I don’t know if I’ll make it there at The End.

    Ok, now that’s off my chest…

    I’m loven’ it. This is great, I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun working. Of course, this could just be from lack of sleep, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Now if only I could get paid for it… Ha!

    Congratulations to everyone giving it there best!

    Posted by Ben
  27. November 11, 2008 @ 12:31 am


    @ Ben (and anybody else who worries about missing the 50,000 mark by December 1): Push for November. Do everything you can to make it work. Then, come December, whether or not you “win,” keep writing.

    Because I promise you that if you win in November, and then don’t write any more, you lose in the long run. :-)

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  28. November 11, 2008 @ 12:52 am


    Howard makes an excellent point.

    Ben – five days is plenty of time to write 10k words. Last year I wrote 11k in four days, around a full time university schedule – during midterm season.

    It can be done. ;)

    Posted by Raethe
  29. November 11, 2008 @ 7:18 am


    I wrote 4K in three hours last Friday morning while home from work with a sick kid. I haven’t gotten much done since then, but I still have time to get caught up and win.

    I have three different motivations to finish, whether in November or beyond. One is that I’ve promised myself that if I get to 50K during the contest preiod I’m going to buy a NaNoWriMo t-shirt. That way I can show it to my friends and family and say, “Look! I did it!”

    The second is the thought of maybe getting the free proof copy from CreateSpace. Is anyone planning on doing this? I think it would be really neat to have but I can’t decide if it’s too pretentious or not.

    The most important motivation for me to finish is that this novel has real impact on my future writing plans. I have an idea for a series that I want to write and the novel I’m working on here has come straight out of my world-building. It’s sort of a test drive for the world I’m creating so I want to get through it and see how it looks and what my alpha readers/writing group/whatever they are (see my comment on the Writing Groups podcast) think of it.

    Posted by Sam
  30. November 11, 2008 @ 9:26 am


    So far my original idea for a sci-fi novel with a male lead has become a fantasy novel with a female lead. Talk about characters doing whatever they want!

    I started out this year, my first, with some vague idea of what i wanted to happen in the story. I usually write with a detailed outline so NanoWriMo has tested me in a few ways.

    First, I realize that I definitely write more and consistently when I have a deadline. No big revelation there, eh?

    Second, writing without an outline is way more fun and less scary than I thought it would be.

    And third, even though I used to laugh when I read anyone say that their characters do whatever they want to instead of what the author intended, It is true none-the-less.

    If my opening line above didn’t prove it I don’t know what does. I have whole scenes that I hadn’t written notes for. Characters keep changing sex (by that I mean that they start out one as an idea but become the other when written). Characters that I hadn’t planned on inviting to the party just show up and no one kicks them out.

    It’s been crazy and its been crazy fun.

    Last night though I thought i had finally hit a wall. I couldn’t think of what to write next. No matter how hard I tried, it just wouldn’t come. And then I decided to let go and listen to my characters and ended up getting in my word count for the day. Barely, and it was 3am, but I got there.

    I’m currently at 21,727k and hope to have 25k by the end of tonight. My goal is to decide as I write whether this will turn out to be one big stand alone novel or a trilogy of smaller books. Though so far I have no idea what to call this book I do have and idea for naming the series. It would be a shame no to use it if I could. But as in all things this month, I’ll let my characters tell me what to do.

    Posted by Carlos
  31. November 11, 2008 @ 9:30 am


    I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo, but to all of you noble and brave souls out there who are, I wish you the best of luck. Now get off the internet and go to it! ^_^

    Posted by Callisto
  32. November 11, 2008 @ 10:18 am


    Haha! Callisto’s got it right, really. Getting off the Internet in two… three… one…

    Sam – I don’t think it’s pretentious, unless you wander around acting.. um… pretentious with your copy in your hand. In fact, I think it’s a really cool idea. I don’t know if I’m going to get one, though, because once I’m done with mine it will probably be nearer to 120k than 50k, which is probably more than their sponsers have bargained for.

    My motivation is that I’ve already been working on this thing for three darn years. Well, and I have to have it finished by the end of the school year anyway. And I have to start a new novel for another class over the December break, and it’d be nice to have this one fairly close to done.

    Right. Getting offing of the Internet now.

    Posted by Raethe
  33. November 11, 2008 @ 11:05 am


    After ten days, I’m at 14603 words, and while I know I’m behind, I’m encouraged by the fact that this means I’ve written more in the last ten days than I did in pretty much the year prior on another project.

    By almost double.

    It’s shocking to see this story come out. But I’m at the scary point in the story when all of a sudden I’m not sure what happens next. I know where the end is, I can see where everything that led up to this point is, but how to get there is a bit of a mystery. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a political assassination plot showed up in the middle of my Fantasy / Sci-Fi / Hong Kong Kung Fu Matinee piece, and I’ve got religion and churches and conspiracies all piling around. And homicidial femme fatales. And I was really anticipating having a love story in there until that particular character turned out to be a total psycho killer. Help!

    And frankly, the only thing that’s keeping me going is the refusal to go back and edit. It’s down, it has to stay, it’s just a first draft, I can fix it in post, I keep telling myself. I think it’ll be fun, once I get it written, and polished, and maybe a little better researched and fixed, but right now, it’s so much fun being able to add in whatever I want. My wife is a great cook because she cooks what she likes. Here’s hoping there an element of that in writing.

    Posted by Zach
  34. November 11, 2008 @ 3:20 pm


    I was also mugged by a supporting character and forced to write about them instead. I remember once writing over 15000 words in a day (and a single sitting). The writing was s#!&, but it’s numbers that count, right? Okay, I’ll admit that I actually printed it out, deleted the file, and burned the manuscript, but let’s keep this positive!

    Posted by sortitus
  35. November 11, 2008 @ 6:47 pm


    I am probably going to have Friday off, and if so, I am promising myself that I will double what I have to date. If possible I am going to try for at least 20,000 by the end of the weekend. No more gaming for me until I at least break that mark.
    I am currently working on three different spots in the story, so if I get stuck in one spot, I can move to another. If I get stuck in all three, I have a fourth spot that I am bouncing around in the back of my head that will probably have me doing a lot of retconing anyway.
    While I have a slow week with work, I must attack! Barring that, I am at least going to give myself a dandy case of carpel tunnel syndrome. YEA!

    Posted by WEKM
  36. November 11, 2008 @ 7:14 pm


    Much to my pleasure, I took advantage of good old Veterans Day to finish the rough draft of my novel.

    I started the world building and background development at LTUE, on February 14. On June 9 I started writing the actual book. On August 22 I was at the halfway point, according to the outline I’d created. At that point, the book was 122k words long and I thought, “I’m gonna have to change this.” So, I re-worked all that content, paring it down to 66k words and cutting out a whole week of book time and a crapload of “not a lot going on.”

    So, today I finished the rough draft. It totals about 196k. Much to my surprise, what I consider the “climax” section of the book is about 66k words. I’m probably going to have to cut that down a lot.

    Anyway, I’m pretty thrilled.

    During the next month I’m going to revise and edit, fix up a lot of stuff. Hopefully by the middle of December I’ll be done and can print out a bunch of copies and give them to my “writing group.” At that point, I’ll let it sit for 6 weeks, and probably start the worldbuilding and background on my next book. (Sadly, at this point, I don’t have many ideas for that.) Near the end of January I’ll get back together with my writing group and get their input, and then go through and do the third draft. I’ll probably keep doing drafts as long as I feel like I’m making significant improvements, up to the sixth draft. So, maybe by the end of April or May I’ll be done.

    That means about 14-16 months on the project (including the 6 weeks taken off). That’s the longest it’s taken me to write a book. Hopefully that means it’s the best one, yet.

    It’s great to see such progress.

    Posted by Hezekiah
  37. November 11, 2008 @ 9:26 pm


    Congratulations! It’s always good to see someone finish what they started!

    Posted by Sam
  38. November 11, 2008 @ 10:19 pm


    My NaNo writing has been really slow so far, but that’s mostly because I’m stuck going through a copy edit from my publisher, which has to be back by the end of the week. I remember being a regular old wannabe, slaving away on my novel, and listening to Brandon complain about how he was stuck doing a copy edit wnad would way rather be writing, and I thought “oh come on, I’d KILL to have a real contract and a real copy edit to work on.” And yes, I’m very happy to now have a real contract, but still…I now know exactly how he felt. Writing is the fun part, and I really want to get back to it. All the rest of this stuff is just getting in the way.

    Posted by Dan Wells
  39. November 11, 2008 @ 11:43 pm


    “oh come on, we’d all KILL to have a real contract and a real copy edit to work on.”

    :-)

    I got some good writing done tonight. Added 3K to my NaNovel. I’m up to 16K now overall.

    Posted by Sam
  40. November 12, 2008 @ 1:34 am


    Congratulations, Hezekiah.

    Hmm. I wonder how well it would go over with my creative writing proffs if I told them that all the other assignments they keep giving me just get in the way of actual writing. (Probably about as well as it would go over if one told one’s editor that revisions were getting in the way of them writing their next book.)

    Dan – I feel your pain. Okay, no I don’t because I’ve never actually had a contract, but revisions are a bugger. And at some point this month I’m going to have to stop and revise some short stories I wrote for class, and I already don’t want to.

    Posted by Raethe
  41. November 12, 2008 @ 5:54 pm


    I found out about this contest yesterday (today is the 12th). So I started writing like mad! At the moment, I have 3499 words written, and for me, it’s only day two. I need to write 801 words before I’m done for the day. I’m even going to have time to edit and polish it up a bit (if I remove words, I have to write more though). I can’t believe the pace this is getting me on. I’m a competitive show off, so if I know myself, I’ll probably finish early, and go over the 50,000 word goal. love this contest, I wish I’d known about it last year.

    Posted by Legacyblade
  42. November 12, 2008 @ 9:57 pm


    Since Dan, you write horror, and I (try to) write horror, let me let share with you my trick for not getting bored by revisions. Maybe your editor won’t like it, but you will.

    Every time I revise, I give myself permission to add one more horrific detail. Like a good disembowelment.

    It’s sort of like how Brandon says he gets to watch his favorite TV show when he makes his goal.

    Only with more blood.

    Posted by Eliyanna
  43. November 12, 2008 @ 10:23 pm


    I’m at 20,000 words, and I know that if I ever use it for the basis for another story, this first draft will look absolutely nothing like the next one. I can probably cut out almost all of my beginning. I should save rewriting until after I’m done reading the Wheel of Time series; I find that his pacing is rubbing off on me.

    Posted by spejoku
  44. November 13, 2008 @ 9:13 am


    Reviewing a copy edit is not nearly as exciting as doing a revision: it’s me sitting with a huge of stack of papers, going through the entire book line by line to read and approve the typesetter’s marks. Which is exciting in its own weird way, because it’s my chance to really get a feel for the book’s final form. There’s one problem that just surfaced last night, however, which I think will require an actual revision, which will be very tricky at this stage.

    Posted by Dan Wells
  45. November 13, 2008 @ 10:10 am


    This is my first NaNoWriMo and two things have helped me stay on track with word count (I just broke 20K!):

    1) I hammered out an outline in October by brainstorming a list of events that I wanted to have happen, then dragging them into rough chronological order (and noticing how some could be wonderfully connected).

    Having that outline has kept me moving, because there are parts coming up that I’m excited about writing, so I slog through the intervening stuff to get there.

    2) The sheer energy emanating from other WriMos is infectious. Reading threads like this one and visiting local write-ins helps get my blood pumping. So thanks to everyone for the success/struggle stories!

    Posted by wes_hardee
  46. November 14, 2008 @ 6:39 am


    I wnet over 20K last night. Hoping to be at 25K sometime tonight or tomorrow. I’ll then be caught up to the “official” word count pace.

    Posted by Sam
  47. November 14, 2008 @ 10:34 am


    I’m on 33k today, heading for at least 34.5 today, hopefully 35k. By the end of the weekend, I plan to have at least 40k. Oh… and if you’re in Utah, drop by Dragon’s Keep on Tuesday nights. I run a NaNoWriMo writein there. :)

    Posted by Utoxin