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More Progress

While I’ve already technically “won” NaNoWriMo 2022, the book itself isn’t done. I’ve crossed the 60,000 word threshold now. I’m working toward completing one of the other achievements, which is updating my writing progress every day for the month.

Ease Off The Throttle

I don’t expect to work on writing seven days a week. Like any task, breaks are a good thing. It keeps you fresh, and it helps you focus. Starting in December, I expect to focus on writing at least five days a week. The big lesson for me was understanding how productive I was (or wasn’t) going to be, and how much time do I need in a day for writing. I seem to be able to get a fair bit done in about an hour or two, hitting my personal goal of 2,000 words in a day.

Those words are, right now, first draft words. I’m working on getting the story told, knowing I have to go back and revise and revisit what I’ve created. The idea that I can create the “perfect” work on the first try is beyond optimistic. Moreso, since I’m still new to becoming a novelist. Writing itself isn’t hard for me. Writing well is where the challenge lies.

It’s Encouraging

This novel, so far, plus the one I drafted a few years ago, are proving to be encouraging. I enjoy the act of creation, whether it’s crafting a story, building a piece of software, or taking wood and making something. Building is part of who I am, not just what I do. Being able to build entire worlds is fun and a challenge.

I’m into the next section of the novel. One of the big events has now passed, but we’re building toward the finale. Sure, I’ve already planned generally how the story is going to end. But there’s an element of mystery, since I don’t know exactly how it will turn out. And the story has already morphed a bit from my initial vision. Here’s to the final few chapters!


I reached the NaNoWriMo goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, making me a “winner”, in that I was able to reach the goal. The story itself is a long way from finished. I estimate that I’m about 2/3rds of the way through the first draft of the story. I consider myself lucky that I haven’t hit any real bumps in the road to building out the novel. It would be tempting to say this is fairly easy, but of course, I’m nowhere near done, and I don’t really know if the story itself is all that good or compelling. I think it is, but I’m obviously biased.

Easing Off, A Little

While I might take my foot off the gas a little (in that I may not do much writing on weekends, and focus on writing during the week only), the story’s not done. I’ve finished one of the main turning points in the plot, and now the story shifts in focus and purpose. I’m hoping that the different layers in the story, which feature theme’s I’m exploring, are coming through.

Tools and Rituals That Help

Part of what has helped in meeting this goal, and now knowing how much time writing will take for me during the day, is how I’ve used used technology, but also some “process” if you will. I’ve been using the focus feature available on the Mac and iDevices to remove the distractions that come from new emails, text messages, and news alerts. I make sure to hide all the other apps I have on my Mac, so I’m not tempted to glance over at Twitter, my texts, and other information sources.

The only thing I have up is Scrivener (the tool I use for writing), a Google search page in case I need to look something up, the NaNoWriMo page with my stats and the running stopwatch (which I start when I’m writing) and the app I’m working on, Writer’s Assistant, which helps me with things like generating made-up character names.

I have a playlist I’ve built that sets the tone for the story (this one features music from Andor, Blade Runner, The Expanse, and The Martian) that I kick off at the start of each writing session. All of the steps I need to take before I start writing are on a little checklist I have in front of me. I don’t want to forget to do something (like start the music or the stopwatch) in my eagerness to get words on the page.

Just Write The Story

Part of this first pass on the novel is concentrating on getting the story down, even though it is rough, there are gaps, and there are times where I’m sure I’ve written way too much, and need to be more succinct. But I’m avoiding any meaningful editing at this point. That’s the next step, to go through the work and start to sort through what I’ve created. It’s then I will focus on fixing any issues with inconsistency, culling parts that aren’t adding to the story, or putting some parts of the story on a diet, say what needs to be said in a more compact way. This is unlike writing software, even though both are creative endeavours. This is a topic I will explore in further pieces down the road.

I’m also going to write up some thoughts on technology and writing, although obviously being a rookie at this type of creative writing, I’m not exactly speaking with any authority. But that has never stopped me before from expressing an opinion.

To those still working away on their own NaNoWriMo projects: keep at it. If this is your first time, like it is mine, you’ll find it satisfying to reach your goal.

NaNoWriMo and the Halfway Point

I just passed the halfway point for NaNoWriMo 2022, and as with the previous week, so far so good. I’ve been able to meet or slightly exceed my personal objective of at least 2,000 words per day, and I’ve managed to write over 37,000 words so far. My story continues to grow, and I’m making notes to review when I go back to edit. The NaNoWriMo tool for tracking writing history and word counts estimates I’ll hit 50,000 words by the 21st. The actual first draft will certainly be a lot longer than that, and while I will probably stop trying to write every single day (maybe take a break on weekends), the work doesn’t stop at 50,000 words.

Just Write Something

For now, I’m focused on just getting something out, even though I know it needs a lot of work. The point is to get the first draft, rough as it will be, down. I have a bunch of ideas on how I want to mold and shape the finished story, and I’m making sure to write those down so I don’t forget. My main character has also transformed some, and some of the supporting cast are now getting their own stories, their own perspectives. They still don’t have enough of a unique voice. Their words and dialog are rather generic. But I feel good about having something to build on.

The story itself is growing deeper and more complex, more nuanced in a way. I feel pretty good about where it is, and where I think it will go.

The Writer’s Assistant

I’m glad I started working on an app I’m calling Writer’s Assistant. I’m using it as a way to collect some tools that will be useful to me for writing science fiction. I do expect that some of the features will eventually (and hopefully) be useful for other genres. I’ll also be adding to it as I find new features I think will help me or other writers. I haven’t decided if I’m going to charge for the app or give it away for free, assuming it goes on the Mac App Store at all.

The main feature I’m using is one that generates random strings of vowels and consonants (using simple, configurable rules) to help generate names for characters. There are other features that will follow, but having something that I can use to generate names that aren’t variants of “Bob” and “Jane”, to give the story a truly other-worldly vibe, has allowed me to focus on the story, instead of spending time trying to dream up names (and making sure they don’t all start with “Z” or some other pattern).

The Work Carries On

I’m going to keep on keeping on. I haven’t hit any bumps, or found myself stuck, and for that I consider myself fortunate. It helps that I have a sense of the story I want to tell, and that’s the planning side of me. But I keep my ‘plan’ just open-ended enough that the ‘seat of the pants’ writer can still blossom. I’m definitely in the middle of the “planner” vs. “panster” debate (which I had never heard of until I started this thing). This works for me. Other approaches work for other people. You do you. I’m going to carry on, happy with my approach so far.