Okay, I just had to say that before anything else! Haha. This is the first time I’ve ever won NaNoWriMo, so it’s still a little unbelievable. But those stats don’t lie:
I think Chiyo expresses my feelings on the matter perfectly:
It was tough, but we made it through somehow, huh? Many thanks to Cloud for being my best writing buddy and un-block-er. And a shout-out and many thanks to our friends who encouraged us this whole month: Nana, Yureya, and Claire!
Now that the challenging month is through and I finally have free time again, I have a lot to catch up on – I finally have time to draw! I missed having the time to just sketch and free-write. And I’ve really missed blogging these past weeks, and missed seeing what my friends are up to. So that’s next! But first, I thought I’d do a little debrief of our experience:
Since our current project, Rondo of the Rising Sun, is a collaboration, we’ve gotten a few questions on our process for NaNoWriMo and how we divide up the work. Usually, the work on our collaborations goes something like this:
- Cloud and I start talking about a new story. During this brainstorming period, we come up with new characters, event ideas, and develop the world. We also spend a lot of time getting a feel for the characters’ personalities, and talk how they would react to this or that situation.
- After a while, it gets difficult to remember everything we wanted to do with the story, and we end up going over the same things again instead of new events. At this point, we write down everything we have so far in a document so we can move forward.
- Repeat steps 1 & 2. And again. And again.
- At some point, we’ll have a lot of plot ideas, character details, and lore all thrown into a document. So we’ll take some time sorting the information and writing down anything new. (This step basically sums up our Plotober.)
- Now we have something resembling an outline! We start writing the scenes we’re really excited about. (Beginnings are hard, though, so we’ll leave them until later.)
- Now we have a lot of disconnected scenes – you couldn’t call it a story yet! So it’s time to write all the connecting scenes, and anything we missed the first time through.
- After spending time in the story, we know more about the characters’ motivations, and fears, and desires, so it’s easier to write a good beginning . . . and a good ending. (Or so I hope. We haven’t reached “ending” stage yet, after all!)
- And now, edit until it feels like the story we wanted to tell!
The whole time, we’ll keep talking about the story, and learning about the characters, and revising different events and situations. The one who writes it down is whoever feels like it or has a better grasp of the scene. It’s a very collaborative process, based on discussion and story-telling rather than writing. . . we tell the story to each other before we write it down.
For the NaNoWriMo challenge, there were several factors that made it necessary to change our process a bit. Up until the 4th step was the same. However, Cloud was very busy and didn’t have much free time to write, so after hashing out the plot, I took over and did the first draft mostly on my own.
It was weird to write Rondo mostly on my own. Of course, I’ve written short stories by myself, and it usually goes smoothly from start-to-finish since I know where I want to go with it. With a collaborative story, on the other hand, it feels like I only know half the story at any one time. . . there’s this vague feeling of unease that I’ll veer off into the weeds and start telling a different story entirely. Luckily, Cloud was an immense help at unblocking me when I got stuck, and we had regular story meetings to make sure we were on track, so it worked out in the end.
Though I can’t say that the first draft is completed yet. At the end of November, Rondo is about one-third of the way through the planned story. So there’s still some writing to be done!
In the spirit of “What Gets Measured Gets Managed,” let’s take a closer look at our word count for this challenge:
The first ten days went well; I met or surpassed the average word count (represented by the diagonal line) each day. I had enough to take a few days off (days 10 – 13), and even though we fell behind, I made up the word count by day 16. In fact, it went well up until day 22. . . exactly three weeks after the challenge started.
I hit a slump. Even though we’d outlined all the exciting events we wanted to explore, even though we had kept up the story meetings, and even though I sat at my laptop every day and tried to type, it felt like I kept slipping further and further behind the word count.
Luckily, Cloud made some free time the last three days of NaNo. Whenever I hit a roadblock, she talked me through the block until I could write again. So together, we managed to make up the backlog of words and hit 50,000 words on November 30th. . . just in time!
Moral of the story? When you get stuck, take a break and get away from the page. Take a walk. Talk to a friend, work your way through the story so far and the roadblock you’ve stumbled into. Then you can get back on track and write at the speed of light!
. . . . At least until the next block. So, rinse & repeat as necessary! 😉
NaNo’s over. Now what?
NaNo was fun, and difficult, and so challenging. I really thought we weren’t going to make it there for a while, but we managed somehow. . . mostly thanks to Cloud’s intervention. 😉 And now that it’s through, we have 50,000 words on a new story. Where do we go from here?
Well, like I said above, I’m going to take some time and get back into drawing. The whole time I was writing, I kept thinking of new paintings! Haha. And I want to finally finish the Rondo cover! I’d like to do some studies too, so it looks like my art schedule is filled for a while. 😀
After a little time has passed, we’re going to do a review of the NaNo draft and finish writing the story. I’m sure there are scenes that no longer fit, or that need editing – and there’s still two-thirds of the plot to go. So we’ll pick that up again, and move it forward. Maybe we can finish it & share it with you all next year! I’ve got my fingers crossed.
Thank you all for following along with me and Cloud on this madcap adventure. The first leg of the journey is done, and while there’s still a ways to go, it’s time to rest and celebrate what we’ve accomplished thus far. Tomorrow, we’ll start again.