The First NaNo 2018 Progress Report (Hint: It’s a Chaotic Mess)

I knew this year’s NaNo would be a rough one. Since 2004, I have participated and won every year. 2018 might be the first time that changes because of things out of my control. It isn’t stopping me from trying, though, because I like a challenge and figure I’ll come out of it with more progress than I would have without trying NaNo.

Knowing the above, though, I decided to hedge my bets. I have a series I started before I participated in NaNo the first time that needs to be brought up to my current skill. The first two books are complete, and at one time, at submission quality. However, enough has grown in my style that bringing them forward would require changing every other word. Easier to rewrite, with a focus on the word “easy.”

There were a lot of things that had to happen before I could jump into Destiny’s Path, though. The biggest was getting Apprentice off to my beta readers. I managed to send it much later than planned, but still before November 1st, so one hurdle overcome.

Then, as usual, I am tweaking the rules for NaNo just a bit. While it’s geared to getting a single novel completed in rough draft, this challenge was intended as a push for people who hadn’t completed a novel. Going by that intent rather than the letter of the law, so to speak, I do not let NaNo interrupt my progress on other projects. Instead, I append the ending of the previous work to the primary NaNo project to enable me to finish one before starting something new.

In this case, the outstanding project was book 6 of The Steamship Chronicles, which had one last scene waiting to be written for far too long. I used the first and second days of NaNo to finish that scene and write an initial synopsis for a short story follow-up to the book. I’d been so focused on Apprentice that this hung about for a while, and it took some time to get back into the steampunk universe.

Imagine my surprise, when I started writing the first scene of Destiny’s Path based on reading the old version, and it all came together despite making serious changes. The changes? Well, they were lopping off the first half of the scene, making large changes to the last half, and adding a new ending. Easy, right? I’m sure I said that somewhere. Still, the writing went smoothly, and I was jazzed…

…Right until day four and the second scene. I saw all the ways the first scene had become an echo of the second scene, making the second redundant except for the key information I had to keep. I tried to push through, but it was like pulling teeth.

Then, on day five, I realized either my approach or my understanding had gone wrong. Instead of moving forward, I edited the first scene (yes, I know editing is against the philosophy, but…). I also listened to the original second scene in audio format. No surprise, my word count did not significantly increase, meaning I was falling further and further behind on NaNo, but I knew I couldn’t move forward until I could feel the story.

Well, the edit made the first scene much truer to my vision of the book. Despite the apparent lack of progress, when I did an audio listen to the second scene again this morning (the 6th day), I started to see how it needed to be laid out. I made some scene blurb notes as I listened, then started to rewrite the second scene. It’s still slow going, but the emphasis is on the word “going.” At this point, “easy” is out the window.

This may be the most chaotic start to NaNo so far, though I didn’t check previous accounts, and I’ve had some years when I didn’t plan to participate at all. Then I jumped in at the last minute with a brand new idea and the barest of outlines.

I expected this year to be rough, but I’m seeing some progress and hope for more. Here’s the chart. As you can see, I haven’t made the minimum yet, but there’s time.

Day New Words Running Total
1 356 356
2 1379 1735
3 1538 3273
4 435 3708
5 204 3912
6 974 4886

If you’re participating, how is it going? I’m looking for a better answer than mine, but it is nice to be focused on writing again.

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2 Responses to The First NaNo 2018 Progress Report (Hint: It’s a Chaotic Mess)

  1. Fantastic to know that you are writing again. Don’t worry about numbers–they are for people who don’t have a million ideas in mind. You do. Just make the story come alive again. Mom

    • Margaret McGaffey Fisk says:

      I only track the numbers because of NaNo since that’s run by numbers, but I’m hoping to feed off the energy of so many writers producing words this month and get at least a solid run at it if not through rewriting the whole 120k. Besides, a million ideas is more of a hinderance than a help :). Distraction does not a finished story produce. As to the coming alive, you’ll have to tell me whether or not I succeeded once it’s complete.

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