28 November 2016 - 6:23 pm

The easy 50

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winnerWriting 50,000 words in one month is always a challenge. Every year presents different hurdles, and I have to say that this year’s ones have been smaller than usual.

This year, I didn’t want to only achieve the 50k goal; I wanted to get back in touch with my writing, re-settle the habits, and get back into the rhythm of writing.

After such a long break from regular writing, I knew that the choice of project would be important if I was going to do any of what I wanted to achieve. So I agonised a lot about what project I should write for this year’s NaNoWriMo.

On the one hand, I have a whole book of Starwalker to write (#5, for those keeping count). I promised to get back to it, and I will; I know I have readers waiting for it. On the other, my head is still not in the right place to write it.

I have other projects that have also been languishing. The one that has been nudging me most insistently lately has been Vampire Electric, the steampunk story that started off as a foray into the realms of paranormal romance and became… something else.

This particular story has been the main project for two previous NaNos. It’s currently in its second draft, as I got far enough through the first draft to know how I really wanted to write it and started again. What that means is that I have a solid base and a clear idea of where it’s going. The characters have been living in my head for years, and the ideas around the plot and its progression have been percolating for longer.

The second draft of VE had around 100,000 words at the start of November, and was about halfway through the story (it’s going to need some severe paring or splitting when I’m finally done with this draft). In many ways, VE is easy mode for me, because I’ve got so much to build on.

And it itches. It’s the one story that has been bugging me to write it. I’ve been neglecting it for far too long, sidelining it for other projects.

For all of those reasons, I decided that that would be my NaNo project for this year. Knock out another 50,000 words of it, get back into the groove of writing, get back into the habit of writing on the train: all of it.

I’m pleased to say that it has gone well. I’ve managed to write at least a little every day, and enough most days to get ahead. I finished the goal word count almost a week ahead of time. The story is still moving along well enough that I think I can keep it going; I’m not feeling burnt out or like I’ve been overstretching myself at all.

Part of it is that I’ve managed to be very productive on my train journeys. I have an hour’s commute, and that used to mean about a thousand words. This NaNo, I’ve been doing between 1,200 and 1,800 per trip (most often just once in a day, because I often nap on the way to work in the mornings). This story just seems to flow so well: like I said, easy mode!

This is also the first NaNo in a while where I haven’t needed to have a break in the latter half of the challenge. In the last few years, I’ve switched to a different project or written something short in the middle of NaNoWriMo, because I’ve needed to take a break from whatever the main project was. This year, that hasn’t been the case at all: it has been all VE, all the time, in one continuous flow. I haven’t even dipped into the historical flashbacks that I need to write for this story.

Right now, I’m loving it. I’m reaching the end of the material I wrote for the first draft and about to foray into the last sequence of the novel (which will not be short; I fully think that 100,000 was only half of what this draft will end up being, so I have another 50,000 words to go). I mean to keep going until I reach the end.

One of the dangers with NaNo is that once the goal is reached, it’s time to take a break. Put the project down for a while. That’s a good thing! But it can be very hard to pick it up again. This year, I got to the goal on the first day of my break from the day job. I have over a week off, some things I want to achieve, and a break of a different kind. I mean to keep writing through it all though.

The truth is that I don’t feel like I need to have a break. I’m at an awkward part of the story, in that I’m trying to coordinate a few factors in the plot, but I know exactly what’s coming just after this phase so it’s not like I’m groping in the dark. I’m looking forward to getting to scenes that I’ve had in my head for years. I’m looking forward to the pay-offs to elements I set up 100,000 words ago.

And I’m really looking forward to having a completed draft that I can start showing to people (for feedback, so I can fix it up).

I’m feeling more positive about my writing than I have for a while. Enthused. Optimistic. Hopeful.

On I write, to finish this novel and get this story out. I can’t wait to get it into a state where I can share it with you all. Don’t hold your breath, but do watch this space!

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