Tuesday, December 1, 2015

NaNo 2015: Aftermath

Fun, I said.
Nice experience, I said.
What in the hell was I thinking?

Guys, I'm not gonna lie here. This turned out to be the hardest, most stressful, teeth grinding and hair-pulling NaNo year ever. So many thing kept going wrong, so many distractions, so many doubts. I questioned my abilities as a writer because just a month before I'd finished a 42k novel without breaking a sweat! How could I go from that gloriousness to spending hours staring at the screen and barely writing a thing?

Good question.

Week 1: I was only able to meet and surpass the Reverse NaNo wordcount goal on the second day and fourth. By the end of this week, I felt something wasn't right. After taking a minute (or an hour) to rant about it to my writer friends, I sucked it up, adjusted my fabulous new glasses, and continued writing.

Week 2: Even worse! The depths of my frustration and disappointment at not being able to do this as smoothly as the year before ate away at me with each wordcount goal I couldn't meet. Again, I stopped to think. What was holding me back? It wasn't the story. I loved the characters and was pretty happy with the overall plot (though I could've done a bit more work on the outline). It wasn't a lack of desire to write the thing, because even with all the frustration of barely keeping up with, I did want to keep writing Milo's Café!

So what was it? The pressure? Well, I was putting too much pressure on myself, especially after failing the wordcount goals. So, the first thing I did was let go of Reverse Nano and print out a new calendar with regular NaNo wordcount goals. Not the total expected count for each day, just the word goal per day. That sweet 1,667. Notice that up to that point I'd met the goals on each day I wrote. Great! The calendar no longer stressed me out.

Total of 49, 830 even with Scrivener telling me I had 50,024...

Week 3: Things went smoother this week. I could look at the calendar and not choke back a sob. It still took me all day long to hit the goals, but the guilt and doubt were kept at bay. I kept thinking about what I'd done before with my other projectthe glorious 42k oneand why things were so different this time around. At the end of that week, the light bulb went off in my head.

The reason why the 42k went smoother is because I took my time with each chapter. I would write the skeleton of a scene, then go back over it again and again, editing, fleshing it out, slowly but surely. And every new chapter was a sure step forward because I knew that what I'd written before was pretty solid.

This layering process, this mix of writing/editing, is a luxury NaNo does not allow time for. And that's fine. But not for me. It seems like the most ridiculous oversight, not remembering this is how I work best. This is my process.

Week 4 & 5: Even with two zeroes in there, I still did way better than in previous weeks. I allowed myself a little bit of revision, not on what I'd already written, but on each new scene. I found the words flowing easier and that wordcount bar filling faster.

I still had to write until the very last day, something that had never happened to me before, but this NaNo had already turned out to be the wackiest I'd ever done, so whatever! I finished, validated the novel, and it told me I only had 49,830 words. I groaned over the 170 missing words and wrote them anew, plus an extra 107 for a total of...

Fun? No so much.
Nice experience? Not particularly.
Worth it? Yes!

In taking the time to think about the process of writing, I was able to pinpoint exactly how I approach a story: how I  build a scene, what I do as I build it, how I set up chapters, how I get into character. Becoming aware of my process helped me understand why I had so much trouble getting used to the NaNo process. Even more fascinating, I didn't have trouble in NaNo 2014 because I hadn't settled on a personal writing process yet!

I might've graduated from SHU already with  my writing voice, but I spent all of 2015 trying to find my writing style. It's been a long year of experimenting, changing styles, and working different genres, and I'm very excited to see that my efforts have paid off.

One last thing.

When writing is going to hell? Don't panic.
Find the root of the problem.
Keep on writing!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

NaNo 2015

It's that time of the year!

Since Reverse NaNo worked so well last year, I'll be following the same technique againhigher wordcounts during the first two weeks, but then I can 'relax' the last two.

This year I'm working on a Romance, something quite different for me since I tend to lean more towards adventure/action than to the swoon/feels side. Also, it's not a YA...It's an M/M Romance...Which means I'll have to fix the blog's subtitle. LOL.

Anyways, it'll be a nice experience to try this new thing. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaNoWriMo - Reverse Mode

I finished NaNo in three weeks and this is how I did it:

In reverse.

I first heard about this method when a friend of mine shared the link over Facebook. The title was intriguing enough that I clicked Reverse NaNoWrimo and it was just one of those light bulb in the head moments.

The ‘rules’ of NaNo say that you write 1,667 words everyday for a month and at the end, lo and behold, you’ve got yourself a 50k novel. That 1.6k daily goal is very easy during the first week or two, when you’re all excited, words are pouring out, and you’re not only meeting the goal, you’re destroying it. But somewhere along the third week your words start to dry out as if the idea faucet has suddenly been turned off, and it becomes an uphill battle to even get 1k. NaNo troopers know this, and for years I've been reading how 'you just have to push through and keep writing.' It's too bad that  pushing doesn't always work.

This is where Reverse Mode comes in. It takes into account this shift in ‘writing mood’ by making use of those first two weeks when we’re all pumped up and ready to type/write until our fingers fall off to get most of the words out. By doing this, it leaves the remaining two weeks with word goals lower than 1.6k, effectively helping out the dry spell that comes on when we reach that stage in NaNo.

It totally worked for me.

Week 1
The word goals were between 3.3k-2.6k. The story was still shinny and fresh in mind, so I reached the goals easily, sometimes even going over by a couple of hundred words.

Week 2
The word goals were from 2.5k-1.8k. Again, I had no trouble achieving this since the muse was still going strong. I sometimes started more than one scene in one day, leaving half of one to work on the next day.

Week 3
The word goals were between 1.7k-1k. Even with fewer words, it's when I started to struggle. Mostly because I decided to play pantser this time around and had no outline whatsoever of my story. I’m a manic plotter by nature, so I fumbled in the end to come up with scenes. But I simply started writing random scenes that came to mind, even if I didn't know where they fit yet. Even when I skipped two days of writing, I recovered quickly and kept on writing.

Week 4
Goals were less than 1k, but I didn’t need them.

I finished NaNo in three weeks!

The NaNo word counter said 50,550 for final count.

After this year, I'm recommending the Reverse Method to any NaNo trooper/writer I come across. I'll definitely be using this to set my own deadline for future projects.