Thursday, 1 December 2016

A million words in 2016 (December)

I'm writing a million words in 2016!

Below is the progress diary for December (I'll be updating it as the month goes on). If you're interested, here's the intro, and here are the diaries for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November.

The red number in the right-hand column is the total Milwordy word count. Please wish me luck in watching that number tick up to 1,000,000 over the rest of the year!

The Million-Word Diary: December

1st Dec993,187
Last year, NaNoWriMo worked really well for me, which is actually why I started this "million words in 2016" project. But this year, unfortunately, I didn't quite get into the NaNo mindset. The start was a big messy rush (thanks to me being dumb enough to take part in a race to 50k) and then I hardly wrote a thing until there was another rush at the end. That's a real shame because one of the best things, I reckon, that NaNo does for a writer, is to enforce a regular writing habit.

This little graph-gadget thing shows just how many writing days I missed during November: 

NaNoWriMo progress-tracking-gadget-thing-whatsit

The green squares show the days when I hit the NaNoWriMo target of 1,667 words per day. The orange and yellow represent the days where I wrote a bit but not quite enough. And the reds... well... they mean I did absolutely nothing.

There's a lot of red :-(

Even though I managed 103k for NaNoWriMo this year, I only managed to write a decent amount on just ten of the thirty days. Ten out of thirty. That's a pretty terrible record!

I checked the NaNo forums and apparently it's quite common for people to attempt to be cocky by rushing to 50k. Many of them - me included - then find they lose motivation! Thing is, as you write your novel in November, you update your word count on the NaNoWriMo site, and the progress bar turns green when you hit 50k. That results in something the overachievers call the "green bar blues". When the bar turns green, it gives a real sense of accomplishment... and that means a little switch in the brain flicks over to "I have finished and therefore can STOP!"

Motivation was low anyway, but it took a nosedive after I hit 50k and the feeling of apathy still hasn't quite gone! Ah well, I guess the only thing I can do is try to learn from this for next year. I'll probably still try to race to 50k (mainly just to annoy the competitive people!) but perhaps this time I'll be more prepared for the green bar blues.

No words today (I think I deserve a bit of a break after yesterday's 22k!) so the total's still 993,187.

2nd Dec993,346
The plot of my children's novel is getting darker!

In my current draft, when Crimble (a dragon) meets Calvin, she finds that the poor kid has a nasty magical injury that's threatening to turn his body to stone. No one is particularly sympathetic to Calvin and, because the injury is seen as impossible to cure, they're basically all just waiting for him to die. And this is why I'm saying the plot's getting darker: I've just realised that in the scene before Crimble meets him, Calvin is digging his own grave. His teacher doesn't want to move Calvin's body when he finally turns to stone, so has asked him to dig the grave and use it as a bed in case he dies in his sleep. How's that for dark? :-) 

I really love it when a story reaches the point where it kinda tells itself. I'm not shoehorning this "digging his own grave" thing in - it's just a natural consequence of the current plot that naturally arises from Calvin's predicament and the relationship between him and his teacher.

One weird little flash fiction today (about a spaniel who likes eating frogs) gave me a tiny word count of 159 words, so the total's now 993,346.

28th Dec996,899
The problem with being close to the end is that it's very easy to feel like you've actually finished. I can't believe I've left it this long to start on those last 7k words. Ah well, I'm back in the game now. Today I began a short story based on this writing prompt:

Write a scene that involves a safety pin. Use the word "delegate".

It's not the greatest prompt ever, but it resulted in a fun little tale about a guy who's told to move a giant safety pin that's bigger than a building. The whole thing got very complicated and resulted in all manner of random shenanigans. Luckily the shenanigans are fun (fun shenanigans are the best shenanigans) and so I'm quite enjoying the story so far. As usual I'm just throwing a few characters together and giving them a problem to solve, and thankfully a good ending has already arrived in my brain. Hopefully it'll be enough to see me through the last few thousand words. Can't wait to get finished so I can start editing and submitting again!

Today's word count was 3,553 which means the "million word" total is now 996,899. Nearly there!

29th Dec1,000,680
This safety pin story is wonderfully silly. God knows who will want to publish it, but I'm sure it'll find a home somewhere eventually. I'm about halfway through it, I reckon, and today it helped me push through another 3,781 words. The million word target has been reached at last! Total word count is now 1,000,680 with a couple of days to spare!

31st Dec1,002,141
It seemed appropriate to add a few more words on the final day of this crazy year of writing. I have to admit, it was a bit of a halfhearted effort! I'm quite drained by the whole project, however I'm definitely looking forward to getting stuck into a bit of editing. Next year I'm planning to start submitting for publication again - poems, flash fictions, short stories, anything really. Maybe even the novel, providing I can work out Crimble's life story properly. And if I force myself to keep submitting, then that means I'll have no choice but to keep pushing through the edit process (after all, I can't submit unless I've given the text a good workout). Here's to 2017 and, hopefully, a bit of success at getting a few more publications out into the world!

Today's word count was 1,461, so the final grand #milwordy total is 1,002,141. And, just for the sheer geeky joy of it, here's the final graph from my magic word-count-spreadsheet :-)

366 days. 1,002,141 words!