Posted by Jarsto in NaNoWriMo 2008, Writing
December 9th, 2008 | 5 Comments »

jnl-new-light2 A post by Starstuff reminded me that I’d taken some pictures of my own setup during NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, when I finally dug these out today, it turned out that the ones without the flash were all blurred, while the ones with the flash didn’t adequately display the setting. So I started playing with the lighting and taking some more pictures. There was more light when I took this picture than there usually is when I write, but you should get a good flavour of my setup.

The only real change since NaNo is that my PDA and PDA keyboard are on the desk far more often now. And the pages with character info for my NaNo, which were against the wall where the image of the wolf is, are now gone. Those used to be lit up by the tealights I’ve got there, which was just enough to be able to read them when I needed to look something up.

Now I have to admit this image was altered. No matter what I did with the lighting the screen ended up showing as almost completely white. So in the end I decided to go ahead and improve the image somewhat. What you’re actually seeing there is part screenshot and part photo. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I could do on short notice, and at least it conveys some sense of how I write.


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.


Posted by Jarsto in NaNo Musings 08
November 30th, 2008 | 6 Comments »

NaNo is just about over now. And mine is done. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few musings left. I’ll probably have a few more of them over the next few days, but here’s one I wanted to get in before the month is out. And no, the title of this post isn’t a Tolkien reference.

What this post is about is something I’m doing right now, and something I have been doing once or twice the last few days: I’m wearing rings. Now I’m not generally much of a ring wearer, but I do own exactly two of them. And for some reason putting one, or both of them, on occasionally helps to get the words going. It also seems to help keep my hands feeling good.

The rings mean I have to hold my hands just a little differently as I type. And that seems to serve as a good way to take some of the strain off them. I’m not sure I can tell why, but somehow having them on also seems to help keep the inspiration going. Possibly because the feeling of wearing them reminds me that I’m supposed to be writing.

This may not, strictly speaking, count as magic, but well, while it’s not a Tolkien reference I just couldn’t resist the fantasy feeling. What can I say, it’s late at night, and I’ve finished 166,661 words in the last 43,200 minutes. I’m entitled to make some weird references, right?


Posted by Jarsto in NaNoWriMo 2008
November 30th, 2008 | 3 Comments »

What can I say. I did what I came to do today. It took me a bit longer than I’d hoped (I’d planned to be done around 22:00, but finished 23:10) but that was largely down to a couple of hours of “I don’t want this to end” block this afternoon.

Once I was over that it wasn’t exactly plain sailing – some of the writing was decidedly scrappy – but I did manage to make it relatively smoothly. And yes, the last two words of the 166,661 in total were “The End”.

As it is I’m tired, but elated, and – well if I could describe it, I would. It’s been a hell of a month (even with some 40 minutes still left to go I feel comfortably saying that), and I’m not sure I want to know just how much I’ve typed. I’ll safe a definite guestimate on that for tomorrow, or maybe the day after, when I hope to do a retrospective on another NaNoWriMo.

A few little things now:

  • Every end-of-day wordcount this month was a palindrome
  • My final “daily average” wordcount – 5,555 – is also a palidrome
  • My surplus percetage 233.32% too much, is also a palindrome
  • Finishing 50k on day 8 is my second fasted 50k ever
  • Doing 16,462 words on day 8 is my biggest writing day ever
  • Getting 100k on day 18 is my fastest 100k ever
  • And 166,661 one is my best final score for NaNoWriMo by over 40k

And finally: I’m very, very, very glad I took tomorrow off to recover from this month, and the 22k I put in this final weekend. I think I need a bit of a rest now. And some time to catch up with a lot of things, even if I am currently too tired to remember what they might be.


Posted by Jarsto in NaNo Musings 08
November 30th, 2008 | 4 Comments »

It’s been noted before, but showers are a hotbed of inspiration. So there I was, showering peacefully on the morning of the 30th of November, getting ready for the final writing day of this NaNo. The it hit me: new plot idea. Fortunately it’s an entirely separate plot – albeit it using some of the same characters I’m writing about now – so I won’t have to try to deal with it today, but still.

Still it’s typical. I’m barely even done with one plot and suddenly a new one pops up, begging to be written. Sometimes I think I must have an hyperactive plotbunny farm hidden somewhere. I’m still planning on going back to editing Gordian Knot, once NaNo is finished. But even so the universe I’m now working in looks like it’s trying to grow into one gigantic saga, which could potentially be a lot of fun.


Posted by Jarsto in NaNoWriMo 2008
November 29th, 2008 | 6 Comments »

Well here we are, just twenty four short hours removed from the end of the writing madness that is NaNoWriMo. I managed to get the words I wanted today, so that’s one goal met. More to the point by getting just over 12k today I now ‘only’ need 10,010 tomorrow. That should be doable, shouldn’t it?

Today wasn’t an extraordinary writing day, other than me putting in a bit more time than usual. It was somewhere between walking and flying for most of the day. I didn’t get terribly high hourly counts, but I was seldom writing for more than 40 minutes per hour anyway. And while they weren’t flowing at great speed, the words were coming pretty easily.

I’m also pretty definitely headed for the end of the story now. Which is something of a relief. The new crisis that’s allowing me to tie everything together looked like it would grow larger than I needed it to be for a while. But that seems to be back under control now, and I may well end up starting tomorrow by making a list of things to tie up before the end. I think I’ve still got it covered, but given the number of threads I’ve started in this novel, it might not be bad to have a little checklist of loose ends to work from.

Still I can worry about all of that tomorrow. Right now I just want to relax for a while and the get a good night’s sleep. I’ve done what I came to do today, and that should be enough for anyone.


Posted by Jarsto in NaNoWriMo 2008
November 28th, 2008 | 2 Comments »

13:00 I’ve decided to go for a long blog entry today, split up into several writing sessions. This probably counts as a slight form of procrastination, but then procrastinating allows me to work things out in the back of my mind. And I could hardly keep on staring at my shopping list.

I’ve got most of the things I need for the weekend figured out, but I need to decide what I want to eat over the weekend. So far I’ve got “salad” down in an option to turn this into a somewhat healthy writing weekend, though I may end up ordering Pizza at least once to compensate for the salad 😉

I’m also tidying up my apartment a bit and am actually considering doing the dishes today. I’ve probably go enough clean ones left to make it through the weekend. But having things tidy now means I won’t have that procrastination option open for the weekend.

16:00 Just back from shopping, I’ve finally got my supplies for the weekend in. Promptly forgot to buy any bread of course, but that’s not much of an issue. I’ve got some in the freezer I can get out. And I’ve got plenty of time to do more shopping Monday. That’s not a guarantee I won’t go out shopping tomorrow as well, it just means that I won’t have to.

I haven’t written a lot yet today, but I’m about go dig in for a nice little session before I have to go out again around 17:00. Just as soon as I get over the drowsiness of coming home into a warm apartment after being out in the cold on the way back from the shops. I’m rather hoping to at least break 140k before I go out again, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

21:00 I got home about 45 minutes back, and only just made it to the 140k I had hoped to have before leaving. But I’ve put myself on an hourly schedule from now on, and I’ve got a big pot of Earl Grey standing ready to keep me going.

It’s going to take a good push in these last few hours of the day to get to my target for the day, but I think I can make it. And at least the other shoe has just dropped. I had a minor crisis going on back on Earth, and it’s now turned into a major one. That should allow me to tie together the last few loose ends quite nicely, in another 25k or so… I think.

23:53 Well I made it to my goal for the day. 144,441. That leaves some 22k for the weekend to make my ideal final score. I’m not sure how that will work out in the end, but I’m looking forward to trying. I certainly managed to get a bit of momentum back today, so there’s a good chance I’ll make it.

And whether I make it to my ideal of 166,661 or not, I’m certainly in a position to reach my more modest goal of topping 150k. In fact I’m pretty sure I’ll do that sometime tomorrow afternoon. It’s still a big push for the weekend any way you look at it, but I’ve got all the essential supplies in, so I’m in a good position to push for it.


Posted by Jarsto in NaNo Musings 08
November 28th, 2008 | 2 Comments »

My characters are gearing up for battle, and in a way I feel like I am to. I’ve just cut my nails again, about as short as I can stand them, to help with typing for the next few days. And I’m busy figuring out what I’m going to need the next few days. In short I’m laying in supplies to see me through.

Not for a real battle in my case, but for the final part of the month long wordwar that is NaNoWriMo. So while my characters are worrying about intelligence data and ammunition, I’m worrying about my supply of candles and tea-lights. About the only thing we’re both worried about is getting the food supply sorted out.


Posted by Jarsto in NaNoWriMo 2008
November 27th, 2008 | 4 Comments »

Another 2,200 word day. But I did manage to get a lot of other things sorted. And perhaps more important, some of characters are finally starting to give me some idea of where we’re going to go for the next 30k or so. The way things are looking now I may end up meeting my twin ambitions of getting 166,661 as my final score, and finishing the novel during November.

That’s all in the future though, and I have to wait and see what I get tomorrow if I want to find out whether I can really push for that. Right now though my first priority is rest. Getting a good night’s sleep and having an easy start to the day tomorrow. I have a feeling I’m largely through the slow bit I’ve been struggling with though, so tomorrow may well see a boost in speed.


Posted by Jarsto in NaNoWriMo 2008
November 26th, 2008 | 4 Comments »

As I’d half expected another 2,200 word day. it’s my minimum right now, and with a full (and late) day at work, and other stuff taking up my free time in the morning this was all I could get done. I’m not much of a morning person in general anyway, and certainly not when it comes to writing, so having to work late (afternoon and evening) was an automatic cut to my best writing time already.

One thing that did succeed was writing at work. I would have been quite a bit later getting to 2,200 for the day if I hadn’t managed to put in just over 600 words during a 30 minute break. That’s another good use for my new toy. I wouldn’t want to have to depend on writing at work to make all my words, but getting the odd 600 or even the odd 1k should be possible.

One thing I’m struggling with a little right now is how to let the story run. Part of me is tempted to keep it pretty short from here out. While a different part of me points out the way certain plotlines could be resolved more satisfactorily if I let them run a little longer. Right now I’m still in scenes I need to do whichever way I go, but I’ll need to get that sorted out before we hit the final stretch this weekend.

I also have a new possible ambition. I’m contemplating attempting a push for 166,661 as my final score. Not only is it a nice palindrome, but it would work out as 5,555 per day for the month (rounded off). Though that depends, at least partly, on how far I want to carry this story. If I go for the quick finish I don’t think there’ll be much more than 10k left to do. And 30k would certainly be out of the question. Then again I could work around that by using the sequel to fill out the wordcount until the end of the month.