How did everyone’s NaNo project go this year?
Mine was down to the wire, making updates literally up to the last half hour before midnight. Despite intending to blog more about the experience while NaNo is still going on, I’ve been finding each year that I have less and less time to devote to blog posts. I may have to change my approach for the next year.
Why did I have so little time? A couple of reasons. Life in general is busier this year, but I also failed to realize ahead of time how much more work I was giving myself with the amount of content I wanted to put into the story.
The minimum requirement for NaNoWriMo, traditionally, is 50,000 words. I always go over as I come up with a bit more story to tell, but this year was a new record with over 58,000 words.
The culprit? – Fight scenes.
I had decided to take a specific approach to the narrative for this project, which ended up having a more anime feel in some areas. As a result, there were a lot more individual fights in this story rather than the large group battles that take up most of the action in other novels I’ve written.
The problem is, I can easily get caught up in fight choreography, and once I started certain fights I didn’t know when to stop for my own good. Hopefully people have as much fun reading it as I did writing it (but without the stress).
1. Year-long inspiration intake. Once again I ran out of time to complete all of the planned inspiration intake, so I think what I’m going to do this next year is actually do inspiration intake year-round (assuming I know what I’m going to write about, which I believe I do), and then just take special note of anything I feel would be worth a second look, or good for mood setting, closer to the actual time of the project.
2. Fewer fights. The importance of experimentation and learning from the experience has once again proven itself. I tried writing a more duel-heavy story and the results speak for themselves as far as the time crunch.
I’ve learned the Five Fight system of storytelling actually helps me to stay on track with knowing how much of the story there still is to go – The Introductory Fight (to let the audience see what kind of action normally happens in this world), The **** Hits the Fan Fight (where the first thing goes horribly wrong and sets up the events for the rest of the story), The Bulk Fight (representing the kind of action you want the audience to think of when they think of the majority of the story; this is also usually where the protagonist has their first real battle with whatever new circumstances are in their life, whatever group they’ve just teamed up with, or whatever new ability they’ve gained), The Prelude (where normally some sort of **** hits the fan again, setting up the scenario for the final battle), and at last The Final Battle (often consisting of one large scale conflict between two massive groups, with other individual battles happening within it – this is also where any personal conflicts generally get resolved before closing the story).
Yeah, I completely threw that formula out the window for this year’s project, and the struggle to know my place in the story was real as a result of that.
3. The importance of stepping away from the project to give it some stress-free thought. It sounds contradictory, since I felt so busy and so short on time, but most of my best ideas for this project came to me either long before November, or during breaks where I was able to step away from the computer for a bit, get my fingers out of reach of the keyboard and go for a walk.
I ended up being sick for the first three weeks, and even in my down time I didn’t feel like going for walks as often as I normally would. On rare occasions I couldn’t walk at all without discomfort, and ended up practically glued to the computer. It’s one thing to be focused on just getting the writing done, but without allowing my brain to change tracks now and then my creative side couldn’t get the exercise it sorely needed.
4. Staying ahead of quota relieves pressure. I think I already knew this, and tried to implement it as often as I could, but with starting the month sick it wasn’t always easy. But once I could make a day’s quota, I did find that the rest of my writing for the day was freer and therefore more open to my brain’s creative input.
5. Pacing by Chapters instead of Word Count when the story gets away from me. Sometimes during NaNo I find that I’m on track with my word count but behind with how much story I have left to tell. Dividing the story into chapters, knowing what story beats I want to hit in each chapter, helped me get a sense of how much more work I needed to do each day to catch up. (This only matters if you have a deadline to finish the project, like I do, but it’s not part of the standard NaNoWriMo experience.)
How was your experience this year? Did you learn any good lessons for future projects? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you 🙂