NaNoWriMo 2016:   when 50,000 words are not enough 


Day 30: now the fun stuff is over, the work begins

FOR THE RECORD: My 50,000th NaNaWriMo word was 'ultra-light', which I wrote about 1pm today.

I actually got to 50,242 words and my story ended with a birth. Seeing as I managed to kill off three of my characters along the way, it was nice to restore the balance  even partly.

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Hundreds of thousands of writers the world over strive to write 50,000 words in the month of November. 

The only planning I did for it was in October when I went through the calendar and worked out the days I couldn’t or wouldn’t write (I knew I wanted weekends off). …

Day 29: 48,519 words and the end in sight

After yesterday’s paltry 1000-word effort, I got back on track today.

I buried one of my main characters, so it’s no consolation to him I rattled out nearly 2500 words — many of them at his expense.

This brings my total to 48,519 words. Unless I too kick the bucket overnight, I should reach my 50,000-word goal early tomorrow afternoon.

It’s been fun — except for days like yesterday, which weren’t fun at all.

Day 28: My worse day, 46,071 total

It was a good thing there were three days left for NaNoWriMo when I started this morning needing just 5000 words to reach my 50,000.

Today was my least productive day of the month. I only managed a bit over 1000 words.

The problem was two-fold:

  • I had a sleepless night and some distractions;
  • I wasn’t entirely clear how I wanted to end the story, so I did a lot more editing than usual.

The good news is I’ve now figured out the ending, so 2000 words on each of the final days should get me across the line.


Day 25: 45,003 words, and I draw breath

I’ve arrived at 45,000 words, which is bang on my target after 25 days.

I figure I’ve earnt the weekend off.

I plan to be back into it on Monday though. That will give me three days to get to my NaNoWriMo target of 50,000 words. My plan though is to have it done by the end of Tuesday.

This whole challenge has been fun. More importantly, it’s shown me how I can feed the beast that is e-publishing.

 I know I can’t be one of those thirty-something authors who churn out half a dozen books a year, but I can see now how I can get two a year done.

Day 24: 42,510 words and homeward bound

Ralph ran into the tunnel near the end of today’s 2500-word effort that got me to 42,510 NaNoWriMo words.

He doesn’t know what awaits him. But I do.

Or do I? It wouldn’t be the first time a story of mine has changed course overnight.

I don’t think it will this time.

My ending isn’t fully formed, but nearly. I started this novel very much a pantser, but the plotter in me has surfaced for the last bit of the story.


Day 23: Getting over a hump, making it past 40,000

I think I hit the gold seam today. When this book is finally printed, readers will probably know what I mean.

I’ve never been under any illusions. I think it was Ernest Hemingway who said: “All first drafts are shit.” I can safely say my NaNoWriMo effort fits that bill.

I started out with a shit title, a single point-of-view character and a vague idea how the first couple of thousand words would go. I decided I’d attempt first-person POV for the first time since primary school when I wrote a composition entitled What I Did On My School Holidays

Day 22: 37,507 words and continuing doubts

I think I’m going to push on to 50,000 words for this story after all. A bit of silliness is coming out to my brain, but I figure I can always cull that in a future draft.

Yesterday I feared I wouldn’t get far past 40,000 words because my NaNoWriMo story was coming to a natural conclusion.

Well, I slept on it and decided to push on.

There is no denying that some of the padding I’m coming up with is forced. But I have optimism that I might just stumble upon a golden seam. And no one will ever see the rubbish words I chop, right?

Day 21: 35,003 words total

It could be because it has turned hot here in Canberra, but I feel like I’m wilting.

My NaNoWriMo story seems to be coming to a logical conclusion well short of 50,000 words.

I put down 2500 more words today and got my total up to 35,003 words. Writing the required words isn’t a chore for me, I just don’t want to beat a dead horse.

I’ll think about it overnight, but right now I think 40,000 words will be about right for this first draft. The second draft may well be longer but it could just as well be shorter.

I don’t want to waffle for the sake of padding it out. …

Day 18: 32,611-word total

I CAN’T feel too smug.  I’ve passed my target of 32,500 words after 18 days. But  I notice the 278 novelists doing NaNoWriMo in the Canberra region are closing in on three million words.

Well done them.

I had a few distractions today and I also went back to edit a fair bit. So my progression to my 2500-word target was quite drawn out. It turned out to be a long day.

I felt compelled to edit because now I know my characters better I wanted to go back and strengthen their motivation so it explains why they are doing the things they are doing now (that I wouldn't have dreamt then they'

Day 17, 30,004-word total. My story, she got legs

I’VE HAD a spider-free day. But thankfully I worked out a way to give my first draft more legs.

Canberra turned on another fine spring day so once again I moved my working place outside to a nice shady spot in the garden. I upgraded my hat to a nice wide-brimmed sun hat and began my assault towards 2500 words for the day. 

I also was armed with a can of Mortein in case the spider who visited me yesterday returned. As a writer, I have a licence to quill.

You’ll be pleased to know no spiders have actually died (yet) in the making of my funny crime-caper NaNoWriMo novel, which I'm 


© John Martin