Monday, November 19, 2012

One Million Feelings

A little while back I wrote a blog post that talked about the six novels that contributed to the 1 million words I wrote this year. It came to my attention that while I mentioned the six novels that made up those million words I never actually talked about how I felt about it. The main reason for this post is last week someone from NaNo messaged me with questions about the million words. It then dawned on me: while I thanked all my characters and plot bunnies, I never talked about how, why or what the heck was going through my mind doing it. So, here's a little Q&A thanks to Azalea E:

How has the experience of writing a million words been for you?
It's been one heck of an experience. Oddly enough, I had not set out on Dec. 1 2011 to write a million words by Nov. 30 2012. I had spotted a thread in NaNo in and around July 25th and decided 'What the heck, let's do this.' I only know the exact date because it's in my 12in12 tracker file.

Do you feel mentally exhausted?
Oddly, no, I'm not mentally exhausted. I would write for a few days in a row hitting 5-10K words a night, take a day or two off then write a few days straight again. I'm not sure if that actually helped but I'm not mentally wiped.

Has your literary stamina increased?
I don't know about literary stamina but I do know I can now get 2,000 words in an hour. If I'm really going I can get 10K in four hours.

It's said that after writing a million words or so, you'll become a better writer. Do you think that's the case? Have you noticed any improvement in your writing from 12 months ago till now?
There has definitely been an improvement in my writing. My stories and characters seem more real, there are more subplots, and things generally tend to make sense and feel alive. I've also learned to work with my Inner Editor and I don't make the same mistakes I used to a year (or so) ago. My writing style has matured and changed a lot from 2011 to now.

How did you manage such a thing? Do you write in all your spare time? Are you a fast typist/thinker?
At the risk of sounding like some kind of anti-social freak: I don't have much of a social life and that doesn't bother me. I hang out with friends once a week (sometimes twice a month) and write any other time. There have been certain situations in my life that has attributed to me not having an active social life so I turned to writing as an escape. Usually I write from 6PM to midnight every night. When I'm really into a story my word count and brain power increases.

What are the Pros and Cons?
Pros: I wrote six novels in a year. I know some professional authors have done more than that but I wrote six novels with a 9AM - 5PM job from June to September. This is awesome because I have 50 more novel ideas on various back burners that I want to write. The past year has taken a huge chuck out of my 'story list'.
Bragging rights. Anyone who tells me that I'm not a real writer I can honestly say I've hit my million words/10,000 hours of practice then KEPT GOING.
My first drafts have improved greatly and read more like a second or third draft. This means less re-writing. I know what works and doesn't work. I can plot out entire novels in less time.
It increased my writing output by leaps and bounds. Before I was lucky to get 1000 words in an hour. Now I've doubled it.
I seem to be inspired by the oddest things. Before I started taking the million word challenge seriously, I wouldn't get an idea for months. Now a sentence can send me into a 'what if?' thing and BAM! Idea.

Cons: I have to EDIT those six novels. That's probably the biggest one I can think of. I'm not sure if this is a pro or con but I can survive on 6 hours of sleep.

Final thoughts:
This is one challenge that is worth it to do. Not to say that anything else is worthless but this is definitely something that will give anyone a work out, especially if they have a day job and other commitments. But in the end, it can improve your writing by leaps and bounds so it's completely worth it. It might make people go crazy, throw their social lives out the window, live off caffeine, and learn to function on little sleep but it can improve a writing style by leaps and bounds.

Would I do it again? Heck yes. In fact, I'll start up my second 1 million in 1 year challenge in January. For those of you who are curious: that's 83,333 words a month. Yes, MORE than a NaNo challenge every month to get that goal. I'm looking forward to it.

Until next time: Good night and don't let Gollum take the precious.

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