A note for Lucie

This year’s NaNoWriMo has ended three days ago, and surprisingly enough I’ve made it. Even though I started late and without a proper outline, I’ve written50,232 words and finished (the first draft of) the story I had set myself to write.

Reaching the line was a relief, but there’s still a lot to do. I don’t like most of what I wrote, and there are probably a lot of things that need to be changed. The whole experience allowed me to realise at least two things, though.

The outline is important

I started the NaNo quite badly, so to speak. Three days late, with only a faint idea of what I wanted to write about. No precise outline, not even a real idea of how I wanted the story to begin and to end. So I made up one during the first few days of the month.

An outline isn’t a strict rule: I drifted away, sometime coming back to it, sometime not. But having it at hand is more than helpful when you’re stuck and you still have to write a thousand words before the end of the day.

Sticking to a daily goal

When I really started writing, on the third of November, I decided to write two thousand words. With twenty-seven days left, it gave me a margin. I was happy to have it, as I knew I wouldn’t write on the 23rd.

If I had to give only one piece of advice, it would be to always stick to this daily goal. I tried once stopping five hundreds words before, thinking I would catch back on the next day. I didn’t. Once you’re in the habit of writing a certain amount each day, it’s hard to do more, especially if you’re in one of those “off” days.

The Aftermath

This month has been weird. There were days I struggled like never before. Each word was hard to find, and I suspect the part I wrote those days are the ones that need the most editing.

But there were also awesome days. Days I knew what I wanted to write about, where I could write two thousand words in an hour and a half. That felt good, and more than made up for the “off” days.

I decided to let myself a month before even opening my novel. Take a step back, clear my head. Then i’ll try to read it through, taking notes, before editing it1. And, who knows, I might release it, if I get something satisfactory enough.

  1. For this, I plan to use iBooks: since my novel is a collection of text files, generating an epub file takes one command with pandoc. And since annotations are synchronised between my iPad and my Mac, I’m sure to have them at hand when I’ll be editing in iA Writer