Today was a good day. I finished my second book of the month for Nanowrimo, totaling its word count at 80,369 words. With my other book’s word count at 83,865 (my longest first draft to date) and my blog posts (including this one), my total wordcount for the month so far is ——. My brain is kind of fried right now, so I’m going to take a well-deserved mental break until Wednesday. Depending on how I feel, my comic reviews will be back up to their usual 3 per week this coming Wednesday. It also helps that I have a small pull list thanks to a few delays. But finishing my second book of the month isn’t the only thing that was awesome about today.
That’s right, I met Adrain Alphona, the main artist behind the fantastic Ms. Marvel series written by G. Willow Wilson.
This was at ALTEKREA, a local mini nerd convention/art show with direct ties to our local group’s Nanowrimo. Aparently Alphona lives in Toronto; something I didn’t know. While at ALTEKREA, I also picked up issues 8-12 of Cadaverific by Bekca Kenzie, a fun comic series from a local creator that meshes comedy with horror elements. I reviewed the first 7 issues of it a while back and I’ll likely try to review these sometime soon. I also picked up the first two issues of Apocalypse 4, an independent comic series drawn by a friend of Alphona’s, Hugh Rookwood, about a fallen angel. I have yet to read it (and probably won’t get to it until at least the middle of December), but I’ll try to do a review of them eventually.
Onto the actual Nanowrimo part of this journal, I’ve had a few comments here and there congratulating me on my insane word count. While at some of the write-ins, I even get sarcastic comments about how I’m cheating, or that they should “Bury me in the snow”. It’s all fun and games, but I felt like talking about how I can achieve such an insane word count, because I know I’m a bit of an overachiever.
Before I get into that, let me just say that I do not look down on those who can’t write that much. Nanowrimo isn’t just about winning; it’s about achieving personal bests. It’s about non-writers becoming writers. Even if you only manage 5,000 words or even 500, you should be proud of yourself. It means you wrote something, instead of being one of the many people out there who say they’d like to write a book but never actually sit down to write it. And some of the greatest writers out there work slow. Not everyone can be Louis Lamour (an American writer who had more than 100 novels and 400 short stories published between 1953 and his death in 1988).
First of all, both of the books I wrote this month have been planned for about a year now. The second book in particular is one I’ve been planning since October last year or so; it just didn’t have a first act at the time. Over the past year I’ve occasionally thought up ideas for these books, linking them together and coming up with a general storyline. The major scenes and the general storyline are planned out well in advance. While writing, a lot of the minor details pop into my mind while I write, and are often expanded on and foreshadowed in second drafts. Some of my favourite moments come from these last minute ideas. But even that doesn’t really answer how I can write 170,000 words in 20 days (I don’t write the fiction on Wednesdays partly to take a mental break, and partly to consume fiction with my weekly comics).
The real reason I can write so fast is because in the second semester of College, I had to. Journalism is already a writing heavy program. When we also ran the school paper for the last year, I had to come up with at least one news story a week, complete with sources, quotes and the fact that I usually had to come up with story ideas myself. We all had to do at least one feature story in the semester – I decided to do 2 for some confounded reason. In addition, we had a magazine class where we had to create a full magazine article, complete with pictures and at least 10 sources (2 at the least had to be from interviews). There were a couple other writing classes, an introduction to PR, at least 5 presentations (two of them in groups) and I was also taking care of this comic blog which was originally started for opinion writing class the semester before.
To top it all off, my boss was giving me too many hours at work – especially on weekends. In addition to several evening shifts each week, my weekend was basically stay at the college from 8-4 on Friday, then head straight to work until 10, and then work Saturday from 1-10. Sunday was the only day I had time for homework, and that’s if I wasn’t otherwise busy. To make matters worse, I was too ambitious with my first magazine article (which I wrote in full without enough sources) and had to completely start over with another subject.
In short, with everything going on I had to turn myself into a writing machine. Now I can pump out around 2,000 words in an hour so long as there aren’t too many distractions, and while they won’t all be perfect, they all contribute to the story one way or another and they’re not just run-on sentences or gibberish. Sure, they’ll have to be fixed up later, but they’re coherent enough that other writers and editors will know what I’m trying to accomplish.
Oh, and I wouldn’t recommend making yourselves that busy during school because it’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.