Sunday, November 15, 2009

NaNo: Start of week three

Hey gang! Sorry I missed a couple days there. Go ahead and post your word count here, and I’ll add your name in the drawing for the days I didn’t post as well.
So, I asked for questions, and I’m very pleased to have received quite a few. I’ll answer them all in the next couple posts, so don’t worry if I don’t get to yours today.

Demon Hunter asked: “What's your word count goal every day? Does your daily goal vary depending on real life, or do you just make that goal every day no matters what happens?”

My answer: I have had all kinds of goals worked out in the past. At different times I’ve had daily page goals, word goals, and chapter goals. I’ll be honest, I prefer chapter/scene goals to word goals. If I’m tired and aiming for say 3k a day, I’m more likely to write filler-garbage just so that I feel better about hitting that number of words. If my goal is to write so many scenes (or specific scenes) or so many chapters, the writing tends to be of better quality, though at the end of the day, I might end up with less words than I’d like.
I do try to hit my goals—no point in setting them otherwise. That said, I plan in breaks and such when I know there will be conflicts because guilt can only motivate a person so far before they stop caring.

Kitt asked: “What do you do to ease the burnout? And how long (or short) is the optimal break from writing on a very long, focused day? How many words does it take for you to warm up and after how many is it just time to stop and come back to it later?”

My answer: If time allows, I usually read when I’m feeling the edge of burn out. Getting out of my own head and living in someone else’s can really help revitalize me. Exercise is also a great release. It gets all those endorphins moving. Watching movies might also give your brain a bit of a break. The trick is to not take too much time off. They say it takes about three weeks to establish a habit, but only a couple days to start to dissolve that habit. My suggestion is that if you are feeling a little burnt out, do take some time off, but make sure you spend at least a little time in front of the keyboard each day.

As for the second part of the question about warming up and time to stop. That is hard to say. Sometimes you really have to force yourself to be at the keyboard. I remember one day nothing was working. Every word a I wrote fell flat, my characters were acting like marionette with loose string, and I just wasn’t ‘seeing’ anything. But I had to move forward. I’d been scratching out only a few hundred words a day, and I needed to make the story move or give up on it. It was a Saturday, and I’d blocked out the whole day to write. I think I wrote maybe a thousand words in the first three or four hours. Then it was like the dam broke, and I wrote and wrote (and wrote through dinner and on way past I’d planned to) and had like a 7k word day. It was amazing, but if I had given up in the first couple hours, it never would have happened, and I would have been just as stuck the next day.

Typically I don’t force myself to stop if the words are coming unless I have to. As in, I have some obligation I can’t break or it is so late at night I wouldn’t be able to function at work the next day unless I go to sleep now. It rarely burns me out to write that way, and I’m always afraid the words will disappear if I don’t capture them while they are available. If the words aren’t coming and I’ve been at it a long time, I usually take a break and hope getting away from the pressure of the keyboard helps. I read a short story, take a walk, hoop, talk to friends—that type of thing—but I try to make sure I come back. If there are still no words after that, I tend to write out in narrative summery where I think the story should go next. Lots of times as I am writing the worst ‘synopsis’ of events to come, I’ll suddenly start seeing details again or hearing dialogue. If nothing else, this method at least lets me know where I’m going when I come back to it the next day.

Okay, this post is getting ridiculously long, so I’ll end it there for the day. I’ll answer more questions tomorrow, and feel free to keep asking them. I will get to everyone. I haven’t posted my word count for a while, so here is the current meter:

20175 / 50000 words. 40% done!

How are you doing? We are about to head into the third week, which Chris warns is when the ‘slump’ tends to occur. How are you feeling about your story right now? About your words?


Demon Hunter said...

I didn't write tonight-Saturday20023, but I'll make up for it tomorrow. :-D Hopefully. I've been doing so well and got distracted by life today. :-D I'll get it done though.

Nicki Salcedo said...

I had to travel for work so I did get to write at night this week, but I wrote all day Saturday! And I'm doing it again all day today. Maybe those few days off will keep me out of my slump.

Ginger said...

I haven't finished writing for day 15 yet.

My day 14 total: 24,054/50,000

I had two bad days where I only managed to write about 300 total both days. Ouch! Yesterday I caught back up.

Kailia Sage said...

Saturday-- 1,115 words
i got on writer block b/c i was writing a seemingly boring part of my story but i'm making it up today. my goal is at least 23,000 words total!

Greg said...

Working from my day 14 totals, I ended just short of 20K, which is terrible for my personal goal, but I'm using all of the weekend and Monday to play catch up, which is great as I finally started the mystery part of the plot.

Kailia Sage said...

i got 123 more words than my goal for today ending me at....23,123 words...gonna get all the rest of the words in 2morrow

Ginger said...

I'm at 25,960 now an I'm done witing for day 15. Just where I shoudl be for the NaNoWriMo 50K...but I think I have to give up on the 75K. I completely am failing to make that amount of progress.

Why can I write (and spell check!) 1700 words in less than 90 minutes easily but can't write 2500 in twice that amount of time?

Demon Hunter said...

22061 as of 2:30 a.m. Yay me. Now time for sleep. Must. Have. Sleep. ;-D

Susan said...

I'm doing NaNo for the first time. So happy to find out you are doing it. I'm having a blast. My word count is 38,324, Thanks for the encouragement!

Cher Green said...

I took the weekend off. My head was about to explode. Word count as of Sunday was 21439.

Kitt said...

I had a very unfortunate series of events eat my word count. First, my plot exploded and took my brain with it. Second, I got sick and felt awful for a couple of days. Third, three derby days in a row because I played an Invitational on Saturday. Fourth, my grandfather fell on concrete and fractured several bones in his face, fractured his skull, broke a bone in his neck, and had bleeding in his brain. He's doing better now *phew* but it was all very insane and draining, and it made my second week my slump week. On Monday I was looking at a little over 20K.