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What was the biggest obstacle between you and 50k this year?

External circumstances (family, school, work, etc.) 0.5 50.0% [ 27 ]
Technical issues such as crappy software, pencils, or laptop batteries 0.092592592592593 9.3% [ 5 ]
Carpal tunnel or any other writing-related injury (excluding acute writing-related mental illness) 0.074074074074074 7.4% [ 4 ]
Acute writing-related mental illness (e.g., self-loathing, delusions) 0.16666666666667 16.7% [ 9 ]
Willfullness and impertinence on the part of your characters 0.16666666666667 16.7% [ 9 ]
Total Votes:[ 54 ]
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Waltzkrieg's avatar

Smitten Businessman

It's not quite the end of the month yet, but most of us are deep enough into this by now to have acquired some of that special variety of perspective known as "hindsight". With the validators over at the NaNo official site fully operational, it is time, now, to reflect, and over-think the sometimes regrettable creative choices we made this month.

For those who know you aren't going to be able to finish: Aside from external circumstances, was there anything process or craft-related that contributed to your falling behind? Did you plan too much? Not enough? Did one of your characters cooperate with you for half of the novel only to scream, "I DO WHAT I WANT!" at you at a critical moment, thereafter taking the story into a completely unworkable direction that made all your planning moot anyway?

For those who are already winners, and those who can see themselves making the grade in the next week or so: What went right? Did you pick up some habits that helped you get the writing done? Did you rely on pure butt-in-chair determination? Was it the practice of giving yourself treats, as if you were a particularly verbose family pet? Maybe you have the coffee to thank, or perhaps your dear friend Jack Daniels, or your habit of giving anyone who interrupted you an uncomfortably drawn-out Clint Eastwood-like death glare and saying nothing at all until they went away and left you to your writing. Share, please.

Bonus question: You can probably already name a few things that are going to be a huge pain in the neck when you go back through to edit. Let's talk about how these things screwed us over so we can all at least attempt to not do them again next time.
Byte Bandit's avatar

Lucky Millionaire

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Shout, shout, let it all out!
These are the things I can do without,
Come on, I'm talking to you, come on!


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I'm making 50k tonight, come Hell or high water. But I suppose I can reflect.

I think that my passion for Bully (in particular, Gary Smith) and the support of my younger sister and father are what made my first NaNoWriMo turn out as it will.

Once I explained why I lock myself up in my room to my dad (I was an Internet addict, so he thought it was that), he was cheering me on. My sister edits for me and helps give input on the story in progress.

As for Bully, it really did help knowing the fandom as well as I do. I can roleplay Gary and that made things flow out naturally. I liked to kick Gary's butt in game if I got writer's block, because that made my blood pump and got rid of my aggression because of his nasty personality.

I must say, though, that if it weren't for my idea to write a fanfiction, I would have spent another year not doing NaNoWriMo. I started a week late thanks to the fact that I always forget that NaNoWriMo is in November. I need to mark it on my calendar. -_-'


And when you've taken down your guard...
If I could change your mind, I'd really love to break your heart.
I'd really love to break your heart!
whimsicaldreamer's avatar

Revered Nerd

I was able to finish and do so well because I had plenty of ideas and had clear goals. I am very driven when I have goals.
I had the second idea planned out which helped immensely, I did not have to stop to figure out the plot.
I also discovered words wars are very productive and I had plenty of people to war with.

As for having others bug me, I went and did whatever it was they asked quickly then ran back to type. If it was not something I could do quickly I took the time to work out ideas in my head while I did it.

My editing though is going to be a nightmare.
Because I just went with whatever came into my head I am going to have to wade through over 100k of rambling tangents. Most of it will more than likely end up deleted. But since I use nano to just write whatever without having to over think it, I will do the same thing next year and subject myself to the insanity of editing.
Waltzkrieg's avatar

Smitten Businessman

Bullworthian Fuehrer
I'm making 50k tonight, come Hell or high water. But I suppose I can reflect.

I think that my passion for Bully (in particular, Gary Smith) and the support of my younger sister and father are what made my first NaNoWriMo turn out as it will.

Once I explained why I lock myself up in my room to my dad (I was an Internet addict, so he thought it was that), he was cheering me on. My sister edits for me and helps give input on the story in progress.

As for Bully, it really did help knowing the fandom as well as I do. I can roleplay Gary and that made things flow out naturally. I liked to kick Gary's butt in game if I got writer's block, because that made my blood pump and got rid of my aggression because of his nasty personality.

I must say, though, that if it weren't for my idea to write a fanfiction, I would have spent another year not doing NaNoWriMo. I started a week late thanks to the fact that I always forget that NaNoWriMo is in November. I need to mark it on my calendar. -_-'

Well, I can understand why you wouldn't want to do it again, but starting a week late and still making the deadline is quite an accomplishment. For my part, I always remember NaNo because I have the site forward my NaNo mail to my e-mail, so I get messages from them throughout the year. It keeps the challenge on my mind in the months leading up to it.

I can see how doing fic for NaNo would be easier in some ways, too. I usually get blocked when I have to stop and do a bunch of world-building stuff; if I had an existing universe to draw from, I would probably get hung up on the details less.

I think it's just good that you're writing, no matter what the content is. Right now it's fan fiction, but writing 100 pages worth of anything does some good stuff for your confidence as a writer, IMO. Maybe you'll work on your own projects later. When I first began writing seriously a loooong time ago, I wrote nothing but fanfiction, but later moved on to original stuff. I still dash fan things off but none of them are finished; I just consider it an exercise.

whimsicaldreamer
I was able to finish and do so well because I had plenty of ideas and had clear goals. I am very driven when I have goals.
I had the second idea planned out which helped immensely, I did not have to stop to figure out the plot.
I also discovered words wars are very productive and I had plenty of people to war with.

My editing though is going to be a nightmare.
Because I just went with whatever came into my head I am going to have to wade through over 100k of rambling tangents. Most of it will more than likely end up deleted. But since I use nano to just write whatever without having to over think it, I will do the same thing next year and subject myself to the insanity of editing.

You are mad driven, man. Every time I see your word count in your sig my jaw drops.

I tend to do poorly on word wards because I spend more time watching the clock than I do typing sometimes. xP

Oh lord, the tangents. Yeah, I re-read my previous NaNo effort and I will think, "Hm, yes, this is not so ba-- WAIT WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT" and just stare at the pages and pages of superfluous internal monologues and the reminiscences about, like, the trees in the main character's home town when he was three, and it makes me sad.
rabbit and coyote's avatar

Tricky Roisterer

Fifty thousand words wasn't much of a problem for me, as I'm naturally...verbose. I was at 50,000 a few days ago. My problem is that at 50,000 words, my novel is maybe halfway done. Two-thirds at most.

My biggest problems I'm going to have in editing are watching for repetitious words and actions (I already know that there is entirely too much grinning and turning and flapping of wrists), taking out extraneous adverbs and adjectives that my subconscious stuck in there to get my word count up, working on my formatting, making the story more stream-lined, etc.

Good luck to everyone still working on finishing! You can do it!
Waltzkrieg's avatar

Smitten Businessman

rabbit and coyote
Fifty thousand words wasn't much of a problem for me, as I'm naturally...verbose. I was at 50,000 a few days ago. My problem is that at 50,000 words, my novel is maybe halfway done. Two-thirds at most.

My biggest problems I'm going to have in editing are watching for repetitious words and actions (I already know that there is entirely too much grinning and turning and flapping of wrists), taking out extraneous adverbs and adjectives that my subconscious stuck in there to get my word count up, working on my formatting, making the story more stream-lined, etc.

Good luck to everyone still working on finishing! You can do it!

I'm gonna have the same problem re: a finished NaNo challenge and an unfinished novel. Grats on making your 50k, though! It's still an accomplishment.

I can type up a storm when it's just general rambling (obviously), but for some reason prose can be really tough for me, in large quantities. I tend to think in terms of dialogue, so sometimes descriptions of places-- and buildings in particular-- are hard to get past.

The great thing about repetitious words is that you can use find and replace to hunt them down without too much squinting. Ah, the digital age.
Morigale's avatar

Apocalyptic Lovergirl

I've basically given up...

Mostly it was that I got tension headaches almost nonstop for most of the month, which I finally traced back to my general stress level and the way I sit when using my laptop. Unfortunately when I corrected my posture the muscles in my shoulders and neck went 'WHY ARE WE IN A DIFFERENT POSITION' and spent a while being burning ropes of hatred and hurt. Things are better now... but it still ate too much of my writing time.

It's partly also from knowing 'how' these characters met but not actually WHY. They've shown up, much later in their careers, in other stories and I have a vague grasp of how they interacted when they first met up but... why?

I had one plot that I dropped because I wanted to strangle the antagonist/one of the main characters for being a boring waste of breath.

The second, I just... eh. Partly I didn't work out the antagonist's motives well enough and partly I spent so much time writing the characters apart from each other that I got sick of it since the entire fun in it was the character interactions.

The third didn't even get off the ground because I had no idea where I was going with it and... yyyeah. Also headaches.

The final plot mostly fell victim to my headaches and shoulder pain but also... it doesn't quite fit into the mostly-lighthearted setting where I've established the stories are all set. I can work with a haunted book, or a character who can't control his psy-vamp-esque abilities, or even a vengeful ghost attacking dollmakers, but this last one was too Silent Hill.

It's a real pity because I kind of like it and I can really see it being the way they met if it fit into the damn setting. Why does Gaia have a heart emoticon but not a heartbroken one?
Chouryou's avatar

Wheezing Lunatic

I am not yet done.
>>>>>>>>>>

It's my first time to join NaNoWriMo, and my very first to attempt a novel-length work as well. I'm happy that I managed 60k in less than a month.

I set a goal of 2000 words per day, and I tried to slow down the pace by making my characters do some travelling and thinking about lots of things. So I typed a lot, abused the thesaurus... and I looked at my stat chart in the website, too. That was some motivation. biggrin Still not done with my story, though.

FreeCell and Towns helped some, especially when I'm stuck on a scene and I don't know how to proceed. They distracted me a bit, kept me from worrying too much.

Gods, editing. I may have to brush up on some history, and geography, and I need to make my characters more interesting. Ugh how I suck at characterization. Also, what the hell is that scientist with the microscope doing in my story, when it's about magic and monsters and tribals in a pre-colonial Philippine setting?

<<<<<<<<<<

WITNESS.
Waltzkrieg's avatar

Smitten Businessman

Morigale
I've basically given up...

...

The final plot mostly fell victim to my headaches and shoulder pain but also... it doesn't quite fit into the mostly-lighthearted setting where I've established the stories are all set. I can work with a haunted book, or a character who can't control his psy-vamp-esque abilities, or even a vengeful ghost attacking dollmakers, but this last one was too Silent Hill.

It's a real pity because I kind of like it and I can really see it being the way they met if it fit into the damn setting. Why does Gaia have a heart emoticon but not a heartbroken one?

I'm sorry about the headaches. There aren't many things that can take down your creative output more reliably.

I really get what you mean about the WHY of things. I have one character who is very important to the later progression of the story, but getting him to meet and stay with my other characters has been a constant battle of searching for his motivation. I'm trying to do more freewriting, and I find that's helping a little, but sometimes it's hard to work that sort of stuff out on the fly while you're trying to write a damn novel.

Character interaction is what got me through this time. I have to get my characters away from lonely places and stick them together, because bickering dialogue is my salvation. Tone is an issue, though, especially if it affects the world of the story itself. It sounds like you've thought it through pretty well, though-- even if you can't use the whole story, maybe you can work parts of it back into your other stuff!

And I dunno why there's no broken heart, but I think this one's pretty appropriate:

emotion_8c

Chouryou
I am not yet done.
>>>>>>>>>>

It's my first time to join NaNoWriMo, and my very first to attempt a novel-length work as well. I'm happy that I managed 60k in less than a month.

I set a goal of 2000 words per day, and I tried to slow down the pace by making my characters do some travelling and thinking about lots of things. So I typed a lot, abused the thesaurus... and I looked at my stat chart in the website, too. That was some motivation. biggrin Still not done with my story, though.

FreeCell and Towns helped some, especially when I'm stuck on a scene and I don't know how to proceed. They distracted me a bit, kept me from worrying too much.

Gods, editing. I may have to brush up on some history, and geography, and I need to make my characters more interesting. Ugh how I suck at characterization. Also, what the hell is that scientist with the microscope doing in my story, when it's about magic and monsters and tribals in a pre-colonial Philippine setting?

<<<<<<<<<<

WITNESS.

Congrats on your first win! Now that you know you've got it in you, I bet you'll be writing even more.

Distractions can make all the difference either way. Sometimes you just need to recharge. Personally, I found that drawing stuff helped me visualize some things in my story AND do something that wasn't all words for a little while.

Research is no big, and characterization is just craft-- you can learn to do it better! I know not everyone is into writing instruction books, but I found them really helpful for stuff like that, myself.
rabbit and coyote's avatar

Tricky Roisterer

Chouryou
I am not yet done.
>>>>>>>>>>

It's my first time to join NaNoWriMo, and my very first to attempt a novel-length work as well. I'm happy that I managed 60k in less than a month.

I set a goal of 2000 words per day, and I tried to slow down the pace by making my characters do some travelling and thinking about lots of things. So I typed a lot, abused the thesaurus... and I looked at my stat chart in the website, too. That was some motivation. biggrin Still not done with my story, though.

FreeCell and Towns helped some, especially when I'm stuck on a scene and I don't know how to proceed. They distracted me a bit, kept me from worrying too much.

Gods, editing. I may have to brush up on some history, and geography, and I need to make my characters more interesting. Ugh how I suck at characterization. Also, what the hell is that scientist with the microscope doing in my story, when it's about magic and monsters and tribals in a pre-colonial Philippine setting?

<<<<<<<<<<

WITNESS.


Like Waltzkrieg said, if you need help with characterization, there are all sorts of books about how to develop your characters/how to get into their heads. A few that I can think of off the top of my head are Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress, The Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Building Believable Characters by Marc McCutcheon, What Would Your Character Do? by Eric Maisel and Ann Maisel, and 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. (At least, these are the ones one of my local library systems has.) I especially liked the last two - What Would Your Character Do? has all sorts of interesting scenarios to throw your character in to see how he or she would react, and 45 Master Characters presents character archetypes for both male and female characters as well as male and female hero journeys.
Waltzkrieg's avatar

Smitten Businessman

And rabbit and coyote swoops in with a fabulous reading list!

One thing I like to do is to take an inventory of what the character is carrying with him, then ask myself why he has each thing. Every object is going to have its own history; I think it's a fun way to get around inside a character's head, and I find deciding a character's reactions is much easier for me if I have a sense of their history. Then I can take the two or three of the best details I came up with from my inventory and add them into the story proper.
rabbit and coyote's avatar

Tricky Roisterer

Waltzkrieg
And rabbit and coyote swoops in with a fabulous reading list!

One thing I like to do is to take an inventory of what the character is carrying with him, then ask myself why he has each thing. Every object is going to have its own history; I think it's a fun way to get around inside a character's head, and I find deciding a character's reactions is much easier for me if I have a sense of their history. Then I can take the two or three of the best details I came up with from my inventory and add them into the story proper.


Character is the one thing I almost never have trouble with, but I still love reading character books all the same. xd

I can provide more titles of writing books if anyone is interested. (This is a side effect of being a librarian.)
I with there was an "other" option!

I did not write 50k this month. I decided to be a rebel instead, and work on finishing/editing my novel from last year.

Last year, I met the 50k goak and had about 55k or so done by the end of november, but I was very dissatisfied because I was not able to finish my story. "winning" felt meaningless to me because the story wasn't finished. I know that's not the point of the whole personal challenge, but it was hard for me to feel proud of myself without a finished work that I could hold above my head and say "SEE WHAT I DID?!?!"

So this year, I decided to finish the last two chapters or so of the book, then go back and edit. I was able to do a first pass over the manuscript and correct changes by thanksgiving. I ended up adding a few chapters for character development, editing out a TON of redundancies, etc.
(In some cases, I said the same thing three different ways in one paragraph. NaNo is not good for that. haha)

I'm happy with what I've done, but I have a little bit of rebel regret for not starting a new project and doing the 50k. There's something exciting about working on a new story and figuring it all out.

Still, I'm done with what I challenged myself to do this month, and I'm happy about it. Now I feel like a winner, but I don't count as one! Maybe next year, if I decide to do it, I can get everything together all at once so that I finish a story, AND the word count, AND I feel good about it.
Chouryou's avatar

Wheezing Lunatic

Waltzkrieg
Congrats on your first win! Now that you know you've got it in you, I bet you'll be writing even more.

Distractions can make all the difference either way. Sometimes you just need to recharge. Personally, I found that drawing stuff helped me visualize some things in my story AND do something that wasn't all words for a little while.

Research is no big, and characterization is just craft-- you can learn to do it better! I know not everyone is into writing instruction books, but I found them really helpful for stuff like that, myself.

rabbit and coyote
Like Waltzkrieg said, if you need help with characterization, there are all sorts of books about how to develop your characters/how to get into their heads. A few that I can think of off the top of my head are Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress, The Writer's Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Building Believable Characters by Marc McCutcheon, What Would Your Character Do? by Eric Maisel and Ann Maisel, and 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. (At least, these are the ones one of my local library systems has.) I especially liked the last two - What Would Your Character Do? has all sorts of interesting scenarios to throw your character in to see how he or she would react, and 45 Master Characters presents character archetypes for both male and female characters as well as male and female hero journeys.
Thank you, both of you! *blushes*
I wasn't really too keen on instruction books myself, but I realize now they're going to help me a lot, especially since I've never had any creative writing classes.
Thanks again for the titles, rabbit and coyote. Will look them up. smile
The Illusionist 1993's avatar

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My characters just decided it was time to hate me and made my brain go "...WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING?!!?!?!??!"

So now I'm stuck for a bit. It's sad.

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