Monday, December 2, 2013

National Writing Month Results: I Crossed the Finish Line but Have a Way to Go

Done. Done. And not quite Done!

That's how I felt on November 28 when I exceeded the 50K word count for my novel in progress.

My official ending count on November 30 was 51,428 words. I still can't believe it!

I'm now about three-quarters of the way finished with a very rough first draft of a novel I've been wanting to write for years.

The next step is pulling it out and finishing the first draft early next year. Then the revising, rewriting, and editing starts. My plan is to have a decent manuscript by the spring, unless life gets in the way of my plans.

November was not without its bumps and bruises, but at least now I can say I wrote 50K+ words in a month. Of course many of those words are crappy, but what the heck. They're still words.

Congratulations to anyone else who has ever taken on this daunting task.

Here are my lessons learned:
Write every day.
Early morning or late at night worked best for me.
Limit social media time.
Limit editing. I could not turn off my internal editor; I just toned her down.
Outline ahead of time.
Don't feel compelled to stick to the outline.
Map out characters ahead of time. (I kept changing their names and descriptions)
Listen to your characters.
Go with the flow. (cliché, I know)
Spreadsheets are your friend. (I kept one with the chapter number, title, word count, and a brief synopsis.) This was extra work but helped keep me focused and on task.
Put the WIP away for at least a month before picking it up again.


  1. Good for you, Donna! I am so in awe of all you gals who worked on this during November...don't think I could do it.

  2. Whew! Just the thought of it exhausts me. Congrats. Now I have to go take a recliner nap.

  3. Donna--Your comment that this was a book you have wanted to write for years is quite intriguing.

    Congratulations. I will stand in line to buy it WHEN (not if) it gets published.

    Those who lost bow down...

  4. This is great news! Finally some dedicated time to that novel. Good for you! Your lessons are very valid too. Don't lose heart during the edit/revision process. You'll get it finished in record time I'll wager.

  5. Hi Claudia,
    Thanks. And I'm mailing the book to you soon. Just got busy and has been delayed.

    Hi Val,
    A nap sounds good to me.

    Hi Sioux,
    Thanks. Now that I've announced I'm going to revise in Jan and hope to finish in the spring I need to follow through.

    Hi Marcia,
    Thanks. I hope you're right.

  6. Yeh, Donna! Good for you! I like the idea of toning down the internal editor if you can't get rid of him/her altogether. And I'm letting my draft sit until January, too.

  7. Hi, Donna. Congratulations on making it to the 50,000+ mark. I got past 22,000 and then gave in to the internal pressure to create a timeline and organize my characters. When I submitted pages to my critique group, they gave me a few wonderful suggestions that I decided to implement right away. So I rewrote the beginning. All NaNo No Nos for those who truly wish to get to 50,000 words. You did great, so keep up that wonderful practice of writing each day and you'll have that first draft in no time.

  8. It is so exhilarating to successfully cross the NaNo finish line. Congrats, Donna! Sadly, I have yet to do anything with the 3 NaNo manuscripts I've created, but maybe someday...

    Critter Alley

  9. Donna, congrats! I'm sure you'll finish it and hopefully in the time frame planned! My favorite lesson you learned: 'Limit editing. I could not turn off my internal editor; I just toned her down." I LOVE that! I've never been able to turn off my internal editor, and I'm so glad to know you didn't, either!

  10. Congratulations, Donna! And I really loved your "things learned." I agree with all of them. Here's hoping that life doesn't interfere and that you'll get that novel done by spring!

  11. Congratulations Donna! Your list is spot on. I had trouble with my internal editor too. I'm an edit-as-I-go girl, so NaNo with its necessity for pushing through was tough for me. I'm glad you managed to keep your internal editor locked down. :)

  12. Congratulations on digging in and letting the words flow. I have been busy at the sewing machine and doing much more reading. We are working through this arctic blast with some frozen pipes...eek! We should be thawed out soon but it is taking some time. Hope your Thanksgiving was great and you are ready for a wonderful Christmas. Many blessings!

  13. Hi Madeline, Patricia, Pat, Becky, Theresa, Lisa, and Sally,
    Thank you for your kind words of support and encouragement.

    Merry Christmas to you all!

  14. Congrats to you! I agree about writing in the early morning or late at night. The same works for me, more so late at night! Mapping out characters is a problem for me because I get mired in the different directions I think a character should take. I have to work on that.

    Good for you for sticking with it and crossing the finish line! Be well.

  15. Hi Janette,
    Thanks for your kind words. So true about getting mired in different directions. My characters seem to have minds of their own.


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