NaNoWriMo winner - what next?

NaNoWriMo winner 2011Last night I finally hit 50,000 words for the month of November!  I say "finally" even though it's a little early, because I probably could have made 50k a week ago, if it weren't for all the yellow, orange, and red days you see in my calendar widget in the sidebar.  I had a period of about a week when my word count really started flagging — I had a good lead, so I never actually fell behind, but there were a couple of days where it was a close thing to stay ahead of the game.

I don't have much left to write in the novel.  I think a few thousand more words will finish it off, plus a thousand or two for a scene earlier on in the novel that I skipped over a couple of weeks ago, primarily because I didn't know what to write.  I'll have to figure that out now, I guess.  I'm hoping to finish the first draft entirely by Wednesday night, so that I can set it aside for a month or so before I edit.

What I'm struggling with now is whether I should get right to work on the next book in the series.  I've been coming up with some good ideas for it while I've been writing this one, so once I finish the first draft I could feasibly start outlining, and then start writing.  The best thing about that is that the characters and story are fresh in my mind right now, and I'm still excited about it, which is a good thing.  Also, it might make for a more seamless transition into the second book.

I also see a couple of problems with this approach, though.  One, if I start writing the second book before I finish revising and editing the first, I may have to make changes to the outline and/or what I've written if I make any major revisions to the first book.  Two, am I going to be able to revise the first book objectively if the characters and story is still active in my mind from writing the second book?  It might negate the benefits of putting your work away for a month or so before starting revisions.

Maybe I should restrict myself to just making outlines until I finish at least the first round of revisions on book one.  What are your thoughts?

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By Katharine Swan On Monday, November 28, 2011 At 1:53 PM 2 comments

Updates and lofty goals

I've been dragging somewhat with my word count for the past week — a busy weekend and a really busy holiday week has kept me from having as much time as I wanted for client work and novel writing.  I've skipped several days altogether lately, and on the days when I have worked on my novel, I've failed to reach the NaNoWriMo minimum daily word count of 1,667 (let alone my personal goal of 2,000).

Luckily I had, at one point, a full 5-day lead on my word count, so I have yet to fall behind, no matter what the yellow and red squares on my calendar widget might make you think.  And I have solid plans for getting my lead back again: I've set my word count goal for the day at 4,000, and since I've already written more than 1,000 words today, I think I have a pretty good chance of getting the rest of the way at our write-in tonight.  (Our regional 24-hour write-in, originally planned for this weekend, was canceled, so I plan on staying at tonight's write-in a little later than usual.)

This weekend should also be a little less busy than the first three this month, so with any luck, I'll be able to follow up with two solid 2k days — which will, of course, put me well above 50k for the month, and hopefully come within 10k of finishing the novel altogether.

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By Katharine Swan On Friday, November 25, 2011 At 4:47 PM 0 comments

2,818 words: Stops and starts

I had an extremely busy weekend, so my novel suffered as a result.  Instead of my usual of a busy Saturday followed by a day off on Sunday, I babysat all day on Sunday.  The end result was a fat check and an exhausted me, so I failed to write anything both days.

The good news is, though, that despite a busy day yesterday (my riding lesson was yesterday because of the holiday — my usual day is Thursday), I achieved the goal I set for myself of getting to at least 42k.  Although I didn't achieve 1,667 words for Monday before the clock turned midnight, by the time I stopped writing I had 2,818 words for the night.  That left me with 42,174 NaNo words, and 66,174 total words in the novel.  I'm drawing closer to the end, both in the word count and in the story, and it's very exciting!

Even though I'm about 3 days ahead on my NaNo count, I am going to maintain my original goal of 2,000 words per day.  If I can keep it up, I think I should not only "win" NaNo this year, but also be finished with my novel by the 30th.  Then I'll have to decide whether a break is in order, or if I want to start on the sequel, which I am getting many ideas for as I get closer to the end of this one!

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By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, November 22, 2011 At 10:51 AM 0 comments

As expected

In my last post, I anticipated not having as much time to work on my novel over the next couple of days, and boy was I right!  I did write a bit more on Tuesday than anticipated, getting 2,377 words down, despite a slow start.  Most of those words were added after midnight, so if the calendar widget and my stats graph on the NaNo site were actually working, you'd see them on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.

Unfortunately, though, the widget isn't working.  All my days are now red, even though anyone who has been following knows that all but one of my days were green before the widget broke.  I think this happened last year or the year before, too...

Anyway, as expected, I didn't get anything done on my novel on Wednesday.  In fact, I didn't get much of anything done, period.  We moved my new horse to my barn that morning, and I stayed there until I had to go to work in the afternoon.  And in the evening I went back to the barn to meet up with a friend and check on the new horse.

Yesterday was very busy as well, with a riding lesson and some horsey time with the new boy in the morning, and a book club meeting in the evening.  Those usually go quite late (we always go to Applebee's afterward), but I did manage to get some work done on my novel late last night, after midnight again.  Not much — I only added 599 words, for a NaNo word count of 37,055.

Luckily, tonight is the weekly write-in at Fireside, the 24-hour bookstore and coffee shop near me.  The past two Friday nights, I've gotten quite a lot written thanks to this write-in, so I have high hopes of getting "caught up" (although I'm actually still several days ahead on word count — so it'll be more like maintaining my lead) tonight.

How's everyone else doing?  I feel like so much has happened in the past couple of days, so even though it hasn't been long, I feel like it's been forever since I checked in with everyone last!

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By Katharine Swan On Friday, November 18, 2011 At 1:32 PM 0 comments

On the brink of change

I am so incredibly pleased to be doing so well at NaNoWriMo.  I can't say it enough, and it's all because I've failed the last four years (and only barely scraped by the very first year).

Last night I ended at 34,079, which meant that I put 2,980 words on paper (or on file?) yesterday.  I squeaked through a tough scene, and for a while there I thought I was going to quit with just a thousand or so words.  But then I caught the thread again, and kept writing until I had reached nearly 3k (and turned today's square on the calendar green, even though it was only about 1:30am).

I don't know whether tonight will be as successful.  I had a busy day — this morning I had to go out to the barn to check on my horse, and clean and treat a recent injury to his ear.  That and a bath nearly killed the first part of my day, and then of course I had my nanny job to go to in the afternoon.  That left only this evening for my client work, so as a result I am getting started on my novel a little later than the usual.

And tomorrow may prove to be the beginning of many changes.  I am bringing Rondo, the 2-year-old horse I've been working with down at my in-laws' place, up to my barn; he is tentatively mine now, assuming everything works out with him.  This will mean more time to be spent at the barn, of course, which may or may not interfere with my writing work.

On the bright side, though, I've noticed a marked improvement in my productivity since I started my part-time nanny job.  My time sheets, which had dwindled until I was marking down only a few lines' worth of activities every day, are once again full almost every day, right down to the bottom of the sheets.  (Yes, I keep handwritten time sheets — I started doing it a few years ago as a way to track how much time I spent on my work every day, how much my hourly wage worked out to, and so on.)  I'm getting more done now, even though I have less time than before.

I may be on the brink of even more changes to my routine, but based on the past two weeks, I have good reason to hope that they will make me more productive, rather than less so!

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By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, November 15, 2011 At 10:59 PM 3 comments

The 26-hour day

I've been moving along at a screaming pace (for me) on my novel — with 2,353 words on Friday, 1,695 words on Saturday, and a whopping 3,169 words last night (867 of those being after midnight), I had a 7k weekend and am now nearly 5 days ahead of schedule on my word count.

This is a dramatic difference from previous years.  The last 4 years I've crashed and burned, and even though I reached 50k the first year, I struggled to keep up nearly the entire month, and made it in just under the wire.

The difference?  I am, of course, sacrificing time usually spent on other activities.  I'm not reading my favorite blogs as regularly as usual, I have a little less client work than I used to, I haven't been riding Panama as much as I did during previous years, and my husband and I have been watching less TV in the evenings.  I think there's probably a little bit of sleep deprivation going on here too, but nothing too extreme, even for me.

But that of course isn't the only explanation, since I also have a new part-time job that takes a minimum of 3 hours out of each weekday, and I don't have much time to write at all on Saturdays, when I'm busy practically from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed.  And when you consider all the other draws on my time this month — vet appointments for our dog Grace, who is starting physical therapy for her hip dysplasia, and at least one morning ride a week — I think it probably makes up for all the things I'm sacrificing for writing time.

So why is it that I've been able to not just keep up, but stay ahead of schedule?  Dare I hope that my part-time job has encouraged me to be a little more efficient in the time that is allotted for client work and fiction writing?  I don't know if I'll go so far as to say that yet, but obviously I can't have added a couple of extra hours to my day, so it's got to be a good sign!

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By Katharine Swan On Monday, November 14, 2011 At 11:07 AM 0 comments

Moving write along

I've been hopeless at keeping track of my daily word count, I'm afraid.  I discovered that the graph of my word count on my stats page does show my current word count each day if you hover over the top of the bar, which would theoretically help me keep track — if I weren't writing after midnight every night.  Oh well.  I'm moving along at a steady pace, which is really all that matters, right?

I currently have 24,618 words on my NaNo count, which means I've written 4,104 words between Wednesday and Thursday combined (my word count Wednesday morning was 20,514).  I know I didn't quite reach 2,000 words Wednesday, so that means yesterday's word count was well over target.  My total word count for the novel is now 48,618, as well as the novel is moving along, it's looking more and more like the final word count will end up over my original goal of 80k.

It's a great feeling to be over halfway done with the novel, and to feel how well it's moving along.  I've had a few sticky spots, but I forced myself to write on through them, and I'm pretty pleased with what I ended up with.  Sometimes forcing yourself to push on through when you are stuck results in a bunch of crap you have to rewrite once you get unstuck, but this time I think it's all pretty usable.  I've felt all along that this novel is The One That's Meant to Be, and maybe that's because I'm so engrossed in it, but whatever the reason I'm glad it's coming as easily as it is.

I think I've mentioned before that I intend this to be the first novel in a series, and as I get deeper into the novel, it's not just this one that's coming easier — I can also see all the potential of the series.  I am even developing a pretty good idea of what is going to happen in the next book.  I am going to really love writing these, I can tell!

How is everyone else doing in NaNo this year?

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By Katharine Swan On Friday, November 11, 2011 At 10:48 AM 0 comments

Calender widget and a 3k day

Yesterday I found the URL for the calender widget from a previous year, so I don't have to wait on NaNoWriMo to roll them out any longer.  It also turns out that my box for Monday, when I didn't quite make 1,667 words, is yellow, not red — I guess to demonstrate that I was almost there.

Yesterday was a productive day — in addition to getting some client work done, I also pounded out more than 3,000 words on my novel.  I lost track of the exact math, but I know I was a little over 17k when I started, and when I put my computer away late last night, I had 20,514 words.  So I wrote somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500 words last night.

Of course, because I kept writing after midnight, 1,937 of those words went on today's count.  (I'm not sure that's exactly correct, though, because I know I got over 1,667 before midnight, which would make yesterday's total word count over 3,600.  That doesn't sound right to me, so I think the NaNo site is miscounting.)

Although I've technically met today's word count, I'm still planning on working on the novel some more today!  I want to maintain my lead, but I also want to finish the novel this month so that I can take a short break in December, and get started on revisions in January!

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By Katharine Swan On Wednesday, November 09, 2011 At 2:19 PM 0 comments

2,108 words and my first red box

Yesterday was a good day for working on my novel.  I felt somewhat reluctant to get started — not working on it at all on Saturday affected my motivation a lot more than I expected, and I struggled a bit with writing both Sunday and Monday evenings.  I'll need to make an effort next Saturday to still write a little, even if it's only a few hundred words, and see if that helps.  (Saturday is my crazy-busy day.)

Last night I wrote 2,108 words, but because I got started late in the evening, I got only 1,567 done before midnight — which means yesterday will be my first red box on the calender (if they ever get the word count widgets ready).  Still, I know that I achieved my daily goal of at least 2,000 words, so that's all that matters.

I also will have some client work to juggle this week, along with my novel — I just got a couple of assignments in from one of my larger clients, and I have a weekly project and an article for two other clients to do this week as well.  Luckily I think my schedule is settling down a bit, so other than trying to find time for horseback riding tomorrow morning and a physical therapy appointment for our dog on Thursday, I should have more of my mornings and early afternoons to myself than I did last week.

I have to say, I love the challenge of trying to do NaNo and keep up with my client work at the same time — it can be hard at times, but it is always infinitely satisfying to know that I managed to stay on top of both!

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By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, November 08, 2011 At 12:35 PM 0 comments

Free ebooks on writing

A few of you may know that I've made almost a complete switch to ebooks, and that I regularly keep an eye out for freebies — often limited-time promotions from the publishers.  There are currently 7 ebooks on writing that are free from a small publisher, and several of them look like they are worth checking out.  The timing — offering these during NaNoWriMo — seems rather coincidental, so I wonder if they are deliberately targeting wrimos.  In any case, download them now before they go back up to normal price — there may only be a day or two left on these promotions.

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By Katharine Swan On Monday, November 07, 2011 At 6:40 PM 2 comments

My weekend: 2,307 words, 1,798 words, and 1,871 words

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday weren't the stellar word count days that many wrimos aim for the first weekend, but I stayed afloat.

Friday evening there was a write-in near me at the 24-hour used bookstore and coffee shop that I love.  We spent a couple of hours there, and although I got hung up on some research at the beginning of the write-in, it ended up being a very productive evening for me.  I got a total of 4,105 words written that night, both at the write-in and when I got home afterward — 2,307 words before midnight and 1,798 words after midnight (the latter went on Saturday's count, which was good because I knew I likely wouldn't have a chance to work on the novel before midnight on Saturday).

Sunday was a little less productive with 1,871 words, but at least I did surpass the official minimum requirement per day (1,667 words).

My personal goal has been 2,000 words a day, so I didn't make that either day this weekend, but I'm glad to at least have gotten the minimum for both days (thankfully so many of Friday's words technically went into Saturday's count).  If they ever roll out the word count widgets (a week late and still no widgets?!), that means that so far I won't have ANY red days on the word count calender widget.  This is a big deal for me, since I usually fall behind so quickly every year!  So far this year I'm sitting pretty with 15,227 words in November, which is a two-day lead.

How is everyone else doing?

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By Katharine Swan On At 2:10 PM 0 comments

2,419 words: Rocking the novel

I'm happy to say that I am still kicking butt at NaNoWriMo.  Three days, and so far my total word count for November is 9,251, with 2,419 of those having been added today.  I decided the night of the kickoff party that my personal goal was 2,000 words a day, and so far I've gotten there every day.  Let's hope I can keep it up!

Another good thing has happened: More of the plot has fallen into place.  I knew where I was going with it, but hadn't entirely decided how I was going to get there, if you know what I mean.  But tonight I figured that part out, and if I say so myself, it's so perfect I don't know why I didn't see it before!  It's a relief to have worked it out, let me tell you, and with that problem solved I don't see why I wouldn't be able to meet (or even exceed) my overall word count goal of 80k.

Unfortunately the word count widgets, which I put in my sidebar every year to show my daily progress, are not available yet.  I hope they will be available soon, as I feel like my sidebar is a bit naked without one!

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By Katharine Swan On Friday, November 04, 2011 At 12:14 AM 0 comments

Another 3,384 words yesterday!

Yesterday was a crazy day.  My morning and early afternoon were pretty much claimed by a doctor's visit for a medical study I'm almost done with, and a vet appointment for our dog, Grace, who had to have x-rays — she has some pretty significant hip dysplasia, and in the past 6 or 8 months it's gotten steadily worse, to the point that we can no longer keep her comfortable with aspirin and daily walks.  The vet has her on some better pain medications now, including one for nerve pain (turns out she has some back problems too), and if I had a crystal ball I'm pretty sure I'd see weekly physical therapy appointments in my future.

Seems like everyone and everything wants a slice of my time lately.  I don't begrudge her that, of course, but I'm finding that my writing time is being steadily whittled down to next to nothing.  Working some evenings and getting good at managing my time will be absolutely necessary if I am going to adapt.

Despite all that, I did manage to get some serious novel writing done in the evening before dinner, and later on while Michael was heading to bed.  The result was that I fell into bed too exhausted to read much before I went to sleep — unusual for me, but becoming more common lately, I'm afraid — but I did get another 3,384 words pounded out.  A few hundred of those were updated after midnight, and went onto today's count, but that's fine.  I hate it when that happens when it makes it look like I didn't meet the goal for the day, when in truth I just met it after the clock turned over, but since I'm way ahead of my daily goal at the moment it's okay.

I'm happy with my wild success at the moment, even though I know it's only a cushion for those days later in the month where I don't get anything done.  How is everyone else doing?

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By Katharine Swan On Wednesday, November 02, 2011 At 11:35 AM 0 comments

1,678 words: Off to a strong start

I attended the NaNoWriMo kickoff party tonight, which I blogged about on my novel's website.  It was busy, like last year, but it was a blast!  I made a few new NaNo buddies, and got off to a strong start with 1,678 words — my goal for November 1st already accomplished.  (Not that I plan on stopping there — if I have some time in the morning, I'll write some more.)

I'd been hoping to get to 30k before NaNo started, but as it turned out I didn't have another chance to write after reaching 24k on Thursday.  That's fine, though — I'll just have to try to make 55k during November, instead of the usual goal of 50k.  Technically, then, my daily goal should be a little over 1,800 words, but I'll let it slide for tonight.  I'm tired and have a big day ahead of me tomorrow.

If you're doing NaNo this year, how did you do right out of the gates?

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By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, November 01, 2011 At 2:00 AM 2 comments

Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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