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Final WriMo Report

Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo; entries are officially due at midnight to be considered for "winner" status. Since I wrote my fifty-thousandth word some time ago, I'm just coasting into the final stretch. My final word count for the month is 61,829. I slowed my writing down dramatically after reaching the original goal, and since then I have begun the odious task of editing and pulling together all the random fragments I wrote as they came to mind. I am pleased to say that at this point I have a mostly chronological, mostly written, mostly not awful, first draft. Victory is mine!

Learning Dvorak

Now that my novel is well on its way, I have moved on to the next big challenge: learning a brand-new keyboard layout. I have to confess that I am really a geek at heart. My first major in college, before switching to Business, was computer science. I am fascinated by the invention of new & better ways of doing things. So when I heard about the Dvorak keyboard layout*, a free way to input data that reduced the stress on my fingers and might even increase my typing speed, I wanted to give it a try.

Originally, I expected it to be harder than learning to type for the first time, since I'm not only trying to program my brain to use a new method but also to de-program myself from using the old one. In fact, I think that learning QWERTY gave me a framework to build from, and I think I'm learning this layout much quicker than I would have starting from scratch. I'm using it right now and I will for at least the next month, and if it's working for me, I'll stick with it. In the meantime, don't be surprised if my posts are a little shorter for the next week or so.

*also see here for the article that turned me on to this crazy idea in the first place

I won!

I seem to have lost my post from last night to internal Blogger problems. There's no time now to write much, but I just wanted to report that I have passed 50,000 words in my novel. More later...

(More) I wrote my 50,000th word some time between 10:00 and 10:30 on Sunday night. This means that I "finished" my novel in just two weeks, which is now my personal record to beat next year. As I suspected all along, however, I am nowhere near to the end of my story. So, although I will continue to write at a frantic pace until I'm really done, I'm going to try not to bore everyone with it as much as I have been. It's time to get back to talking about other things.

Did I mention that law school reports have started going out? Three of my nine schools requested reports almost immediately after I submitted my applications. Two more were requested over the weekend. I am delighted. It is cause for celebration, and so I baked my famous Vegetarian Enchiladas for dinner last night. J helped, and we had a fun couply bonding time in the kitchen. I supplemented the spicy Mexican-style food with an ice-cold Japanese beer. I would have preferred a Dos Equis, but beggars can't be choosy after all.

words written yesterday: 3,329

writing, Categories: law school

It's a new record... low

Okay, come on. I earned a break today. All sense of urgency is gone, but I suppose that's to be expected at this point. Still, I'd like to buckle down and finish this monster tomorrow; that way I get the two-week completion time bonus win! I'm not going to hit 100,000 words this month. Not unless, that is, I get another crazy burst of inspiration and can type like I did at the start of the month. What is clear is that it's going to take a lot more than 50,000 words to tell this story right, so my current goal is just to get down a complete novel by the end of the month. The writing continues tomorrow...

words: 383

Echoes of the amplifiers

In the earlier part of this evening, the wife and I drove into Minneapolis to see my coworker's band play at the Triple Rock. Traffic going downtown was awful. I was reminded why we don't go out more, but it was all all right when we got inside. Seconds Before put on a very good show for us, and we rocked out accordingly. You can download some songs on the website there, so go check 'em out.

The novel is so tantalizingly close to being done that I thought about staying awake tonight until it was finished, just to cross that line, but... I'm not gonna do it. Actually, I'm just not in much of a novel-writing mood tonight, so while I will write, I'm not going to force it. Maybe I'll have a couple of drinks to celebrate my near-completeness and read something instead.

Nah... I'll write my novel. I think about it all the time, anyway, so I might as well ratchet up that word count. I'll see about those drinks, though...

words: 2,171

Stay cool

Part of the problem of really focusing on writing a novel is, well, I'm really focused on writing a novel. So I'm sorry if I don't talk about much of anything else. I did have a fun evening yesterday with my wife and a couple of her friends who were just married last weekend. I met them over at their place and we hung out a bit, had dinner, and played some Dance Dance Revolution (now there's something I haven't seen any mention of on the law blogs, but I must not be the only legally-minded DDR fan out there... er, mustn't I?).

Most nights, though, I drive home, relax with J for a few hours and eat dinner, maybe get in an hour of novel work. Then around 8 or 9 she goes to bed and I start writing in earnest until 10:30, save it, and go to bed. In the morning I check my word count and post it here for all to see. I'm almost always surprised by how many words I produced the night before. It doesn't seem like I'm typing that much, really. Maybe because my novel is 80% "complete" but I've only written about half of it.

words: 3,135

(for posterity, even though I was busy today and didn't post:)

words: 2,170

Reader mail

AmbImb asks,

How do you do 6,000 words/day!? I think my best day ever in nearly four years of trying is about that. Maybe I still have too many filters between brain and fingers...

First off, I should note that he was the one who turned me on to NaNoWriMo in the first place, so if I do reach the 50,000 word mark and "win," then AmbImb gets credit for the assist. Also, after my prodigious start, my average words per day have continued to drop, and currently hover at 4,389. So the question I will answer is, "how do you write an average of 4,000 words per day?"

After all, 1,667 words per day will get you to 50,000 words after 30 days. A veteran writer suggested that I aim for 2,000 words per day, which is an easier goal to visualize and provides more wiggle room in case I fall short once or twice. Without too much effort, I have managed to double that. Here's what works for me: I set aside two hours at the end of the night (when I am usually most creative), and during that time, I write. I don't edit, proofread, or analyze... I just write. I don't go back and read what I have written, either; I just write until I'm done, hit save, and go to bed. The next day I do the same thing.

So, that's how I do it, and it's working so far. I have removed all filters between brain and fingers- I just put words down as soon as I come up with them. If I think it, it's going in the novel. Make this your mantra: "I can always fix it in the rewrite." The only thing you have to do for now is produce words. My novel isn't even in chronological order any more, but that's okay. If I feel like typing a particular scene, I write that scene where I am. If I get stuck, I insert a page break and start on something new. I do not delete. Ever.

That's it for today's writing workshop! Good luck all you novelists out there! Keep on writing!

words: 3,950

Categories: writing

Old for a very long time

I occupy a comfortable position in terms of raw word count as the second week of NaNoWriMo begins. This has freed me up to hop around a bit in my outline and work on the juicy bits, while I try to figure out a way to connect it all together. I think the hardest part for me so far is taking all these scenes I have in my outline and writing a story that carries over from one to the next. I've always had trouble writing transitions.

But, maybe I can fix all of that in the rewrite. Plot problems are popping up left and right, especially continuity errors with all the skipping around I'm doing. I just note these right in the text as they come back so I remember to fix them when I come back around. I mostly took a break from writing this weekend, but I did get a few hours and some thousands of words in every now and then. I'm having great fun pretending to be a writer.

I celebrated applying to law school on Friday with a bottle of 2001 Cline Viognier. Sadly, this wine is past its prime. Even more sadly, I have another bottle of it to drink. On the excellent side was a 2002 Cline Ancient Vines Mourvedre. Probably still young, and "will continue to improve for at least a decade," declare the producers. Word on the street confirms this opinion. Pick up some of this wine now.

words: 3,306

Categories: writing, wine

words: 2,667

words: 1,923

Quick notes

My final transcript has arrived at LSAC and I'm completing applications left and right. Five out so far; four to go. I'm going to party like a rock star when this is all over. Like a rock star who just spent hundreds of dollars on law school applications, but a rock star nonetheless. I think this calls for a bottle of wine to be opened. It's fancy, and best of all, it's already paid for!

UPDATE: Wow! Yes! All nine of my applications have been submitted via LSAC. I feel so much better. I'm not ready to relax yet, thought, because I'm sure there will be something I forgot or some new problem. But I'm still gonna party tonight!

Meanwhile, some thoughts on the novel writing.

I've got a lot of words written down a a loosely story-based format, but in no way have I written an actual novel yet. This event should technically be called RoDraWriMo, because a very rough draft of a novel is what I am actually working on. At the end of the month, or whenever I wrap this up, I will revise and edit and finagle this monster into a real first draft. At that point (and who knows how long that process could take), I will be prepared to call it a novel.

words: 3,208

20,000 words in three days!

Well! The writing party last night was a huge success! Even though, as you can see, my daily word count is slowly dropping, I'm still way above my 2,000 word/day goal and well on track to finish early. I've got an Excel spreadsheet helping me out with calculations now, and it gives me a projected word count of almost 200,000 by November 30. That's not bloody likely.

What will probably happen is a final word count around 100,000. With the progress I'm making on my outline, it's going to take around that much just to wrap up my story, and this is not a bad thing. If I remember correctly, the most saleable range for novels is between 80,000 and 150,000 words. Yes, I am going to try to get this book published. No, I don't think it's going to actually happen, but a man can dream.

Meanwhile, good news from the law school front: one of my transcripts has arrived at LSAC. Now only one is missing and when it arrives, I can finally push those mofos out the door. That's going to be almost as much of a relief as getting that election over with. And then I can just focus on cranking those words out for my novel.

words: 3,861

WriMo ParTay

Tonight I am going to a writing party at the home of my local friends. I'm really looking forward to creating my novel in a group atmosphere. Even though I've had no trouble with productivity so far, I hear that working in the same room with other writers is good for instilling a sense of urgency. A writer taking a break from her own typing will hear the sounds of other keyboards working, and that's a powerful motivator. "I don't have time to sit and think, I'm falling behind, I have to write!"

Like I said, though, I'm so far ahead of the game that I could get to 50,000 words by the end of the week if I keep a full head of steam. I may not need the motivation, but it will be fun to get in there and see my friends laboring at the same thing that I am. Half the point of NaNoWriMo is mutual suffering, developing a strong feeling that "I am not alone," and "if they can do it, so can I!" Mostly I'm hoping for a good pot of strong tea, shared food, and writing breaks playing with the puppies.

words: 5,198

I Voted

This morning, it was a bit of a hassle but not too bad. I registered to vote when I got my new driver's license for an address change about a month ago, but when I showed up to vote, I wasn't on the list. I don't know where they registered me to vote, but luckily in Minnesota you can register right there on election day and that's what I did. Hopefully by 2005 the recount will be over and we will know who the next President is. No more about politics.

I made quite a start on my novel that surprised even me. If you look to your right over there you will see my word count so far. If I kept up this pace, I would reach the 50,000 word mark by the end of the week. I don't expect I'll be able to keep up this pace, though. Besides, I was horrified to see how little progress I had made into the story after 8,000 words. Basically, it's a love story, and I have not even introduced the love interest yet- at this rate, it's going to be a while before I do. 50,000 words is a good goal, but I think I'm going to need more than that to finish this book.

words: 6,494
(I will be tracking my daily word count on posts and total word count in the upper right-hand corner of my main page.)

Happy NaNoWriMo!

The novel-writing madness begins today! Stay tuned for daily word counts and progress reports.

words: 8,453