Thursday, December 01, 2011

Why I failed #NaNoWriMo 2011 (13,825 words)

I was cruising.  It was day 13 and I was already past 13,000 words keeping pace with my 1,000 words a day goal (note: NaNoWriMo officially encourages 1,400 words a day).  And then it all stopped.  I finished on day 14 with 13,835 words in the middle of what I feel was turning into a good story.

The main problem I had was that the time I was allotting to write was during my breaks at work (an hour lunch + two 15 minute breaks).  When work got a bit crazy I had to switch over to using up free time at home each night.  With a family (especially the 2 year old) and games like League of Legends and Battlefield 3 to play, I just couldn't focus on writing at home.  However, there were a couple other things that derailed me as well.

I really screwed up the geography of my world building.  The story is supposed to be taking place in the east, but I ended up calling the land mass the "western key".  Then the nation of Alb I put in the east only to later realize it made more sense for Alb to be in the midlands.  Which means I should of had the ruling Kingdom of the midlands in the east.  The only group I placed correctly it seems was the foreigners from the islands of the west.

At first this mix up didn't really bother me.  NaNoWriMo is about getting words on paper which can be edited and fixed up later.  Rewriting should be the second step to a story, not a part of the process of the first draft, so I pressed on with the bad geography in the idea that I'd clean it up in editing.  However, I ran into some problems with what I wanted to do with the story.  This forced me to think far too much about what I was writing each day and lead to the writers block that ended my NaNoWriMo attempt for 2011.

When the initial writers block set in, I looked into working on just editing my 13,000+ words and getting the geography together.  As I went through the text I started getting really good ideas and started adding in large sections and more descriptive language to previous chapters.  Before long the writers block collided with the changes I was making and I was finding myself creating gaps faster than I was filling them.  So instead of pushing into the second half of the month, I put the work down.

Oh and at some point I realized I really disliked some of the main characters names: Enlil and Orten specifically.  I literally picked the name Orten based on the NFL quarterback Kyle Orten.  And with Enlil, I am not even sure how you would pronounce it.  In Orten's case I have a new name picked out that I really like.  In Enlil's case I am aiming to change up the history of his nation of Alb which will result in some pretty unique names (moving it more towards the naming conventions of the Native Americans).

I still have plans to clean this story up.  It's a story I didn't outline, but I have had the general plot in my mind for some time.  It's a dark story, but a fun one in my opinion.  And it's all aimed at a pretty climatic ending.  I actually started on the story a while ago, but had only written a single chapter.  Even though I failed to hit the full month word count, I feel like NaNoWriMo was still a useful experience for me.  It did get me writing and it did force me to think about this story a bit more.  Even if I don't finish this story I should still be able to use the lessons learned for future story writing.

For anyone interested, here are all the posts tagged for my NaNoWriMo 2011 writing.

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