Posted by Jarsto in NaNoWriMo 2008
December 1st, 2008 | 8 Comments »

12:30 Well it’s about time I started this post. The Great Maker knows I have enough I want to cover in it. And as I’ve already been hit by yet another plotbunny (I wasn’t even showering this time, just reading the Babylon Lurker’s blog) so I guess it’s about time I did something creative. But first the ‘not so creative’ part of the post: some more numbers and statistics.

So I wrote 166,661 words. Which comes to just over 900k characters according to OpenOffice. Add in 12.5k words of blog posts, another 65k characters, and something similar to the blog in #dutchnano, and my suspicions are confirmed. Without even adding in blog-comments, forum posts, or typing at work (or for that matter corrections) November is already well over 1 million characters, which also means over 1 million keystrokes.

Even taking just 1 million, which is decidedly low, that means I’ve done just over 23 keystrokes a minute for the entire month. Or put it another way: if I’d stayed up all month, and stayed at the computer without sleeping, or eating (or strangely enough in the scenario: dropping dead) I would have had to hit a key once ever 2.6 seconds to make it this far.

Translate that (again roughly) into words, and I would have had to write over 4 words a minute to get everything I wrote for the month typed out. Even if we reduce it to just the novel, I would still have had to write 3.9 words per minute for the entire 43,200 minute long month. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but again that doesn’t leave any time to sleep, work, eat, bathe, or actually do anything other than type. When you take all those into account, you start to realise just how much of a strain writing for a month puts on you.

15:15 The day is going pretty much as expected so far. Not a lot done yet. I’ll try to the the kitchen sorted out a little later. And about the only truly useful thing I’ve done so far has been to convert a beautiful burned out candle into a tealight holder, which seems to be working surprisingly well.

I’ve also decided to upload my wordcount sheet for this NaNo, in order to save myself from having to retype any more numbers. It’s available both in the original OpenDocument format, and in Excel. I’ll freely admit I haven’t checked how well my formulas have converted to Excel, so ymmv on that one.

Finally, and perhaps the most important thing I’ve done today: I’ve added the NaNoWriMo 2008 icon to my front page, and to the My NaNo History page. The other pages will have to wait, and so will the retrospective for the History page. There are too many other things I should probably be doing right now. So I’ll take another break from this post before coming back with my final thoughts on the month.

17:15 Well I haven’t done many of the things I’d planned to do after writing the last little instalment of this post. Instead I’ve been dealing with some email, hanging out in the chat, and playing lemmings, because that’s pretty much the only speed my brain seems to want to operate at right now.

I’m not sure I’m terribly upset about that either. It’s a pretty natural place to be after doing NaNo for a month, and the fact that I didn’t want to have to force myself to do much more than that was one of the reasons I took today off.

Still, looking back on NaNo, what is there to be said. I’m tempted to just say “go read the 47 posts I did last month” but there is a bit more to it than that for this retrospective. I had a lot of fun this year, and I wrote a staggering (even for me) number of words. Where I’d thought I might struggle to get to 50k, with everything else going on this year, I did more than 3 times that.

I think that all the other things happening may actually have had something to do with that. When you have to make time to write, it also forces you to spend that time writing. You can’t get away with thinking “I’ll do that bit tomorrow morning” when you know you have to be at work tomorrow morning.

Something else that may have a lot to do with it is that I haven’t been writing enough this year. Even with the 166,661 I put in for NaNo I’m pretty sure my total ‘words written’ for the year is under 200k. I’ve had 300k years in the past, so that figure is just a little bit of a let down in some ways. But more to the point for this post, I’m pretty sure that figure means there was a lot of pent-up inspiration waiting to come out last month.

The trick now is going to be avoid the biggest pitfall in doing NaNoWriMo: the post-NaNo dip. Of course you can’t avoid it entirely, and I’m still pretty sure I won’t be doing any writing or editing today. But I want to get going again pretty soon this time.

At least I have a write-in scheduled next weekend to help me get started again, so I guess I should be all right. Even in a worst case scenario it shouldn’t be a multi-month drag to get back into the groove this time – I hope.

So, finally, looking back, I’m very happy about this NaNo. I went in not looking for much more than 50k, and came out with over 160k. And what’s more, for only the second time in my 6 NaNoWriMos I got to write “The End” as my last two words during November. And for all the speed I don’t think my writing quality suffered too much.

That if anything is the worrying thing about this NaNo, I’m pretty sure this is a pretty normal – for me – first draft. And one thing I know about my own first drafts: I’m always light on description. Chances are this going to gain more words than it loses in any edit.

Of course the other worrying thing is just what I put my body through this month. As you can read nearer the start of this post I did over 1 million keystrokes in a month. I’m pretty sure that’s another record. But my body seems to have held up pretty well, with only the occasional slight twinge or ache to show for all the strain. So even there it seems I do have cause to be content.

And in a final bit of news, something I did shortly after midnight last night. I updated my NaNoWriMo countdown script to count down to NaNoWriMo 2009. Because that’s the real joy of NaNo: we get to go through this insanity again in a year’s time.

8 Responses to “NaNoWriMo 2008 – Looking Back”

  1. Starstuff Says:

    Pretty impressive numbers! I won’t even look at mine, I am just glad my keyboard kept working, no matter how much I pounded it.

    I think I need to start organizing something like write ins as well. I will meet with a fellow NaNo’er this week for a coffee and maybe she knows more aspiring writers in the area. I imagine meeting with others and just enjoy the company while writing can be quite motivating.

    And good thing about the 2009 countdown…even though I still feel the effects of sleep deprivation, I am looking forward to next years craziness. Maybe I even get to write the story I originally intended to write. :roll:

  2. Jarsto Says:

    When I figure out – and look at – numbers like that I’m often amazed by the way they build keyboards. They’re not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve had my current keyboard for long enough now that I’m pretty sure it’s done at least 5 million keystrokes, if not more. And the only trouble I’ve had in all that time has been a couple of times when I managed to get crumbs or something on it and had to get rid of them to be able to use is properly again.

    Write ins can be fun, although just how useful they are for the wordcount depends on the people you get. Some of the write ins I go to we have so much fun together that we sometimes struggle to get around to writing. But we do do a lot of plotting, and just general brainstorming, so it’s never wasted.

    And of course just hanging out with fellow writers can be great fun. I remember a discussion, some years back now, on a message board for writers. Where someone posted that the reason they liked message boards like that was the fact that at least, among writers, you can ask the question “how fast does human hair burn” without anyone looking at you funny. The first reply: “Yes that’s great. BTW It burns pretty fast, and remember, hairspray will act as an accelerator.”

    Just that ability to talk about such weird plotpoints – or to talk about your characters doing things against your will – without people looking at you as though your crazy is probably the greatest benefit of write ins and similar events.

  3. Starstuff Says:

    Then write-ins must be like the FedCon – you can talk about SciFi stuff, characters, fictional worlds in all earnesty without being looked upon as a crazy. Probably I should move to The Netherlands … you guys are far more active.

  4. Jarsto Says:

    Yeah, that not-crazy vibe is probably pretty similar. And tends to cover pretty much the same sort of thing. Especially when, as is the case with most of the groups I’m involved with, there are a lot of Sci-Fi & Fantasy writers involved. So you get a lot of talk about SF&F fandom as well as writing.

    As for moving to NL, it’s a bit drastic as measures to get an active write-in scene go, but you’d be quite welcome. In the short term though I’d recommend seeing what you can get going locally. One tip (I haven’t tried this one myself, but I know people who have): see if you can put some information about write ins etc. up in local bookstores. Those are always a good place to reach other local writers.

  5. Starstuff Says:

    Well, considering the global warming, I probably would rather move to Bavaria, into the alps 😀 But the idea about flyers in book stores is pretty cool…I’ll run it by my fellow NaNo writer tomorrow, maybe we can really set something up. You’ll get credit if it works :)

  6. Jarsto Says:

    Actually we’re not a bad place to move to if sea-levels go up. Let’s face it, we’ve been keeping out the seas since the middle ages around here, we’ve gotten good at it by now 😉

    Anyway good luck with trying to get something setup. Let me know how it works out.

  7. Starstuff Says:

    We had to postpone the meeting, conflicting schedules. Next try: next week.

  8. Jarsto Says:

    Well keep me informed. I’m quite curious to hear whether you get anything set up or not.

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