Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

The Accidental Nano

April is "Camp Nanowrimo", a choose-your-own-goal version of Nanowrimo.

I did not intend to do Camp Nano. I didn't set a writing goal for April. On April 1st, my goal for April was "do more research for Birthright". I did do a little of that, but not much.

What I did instead was accidentally win Nanowrimo.

Not even just win: CRUSH Nanowrimo. I started writing The Moon Etherium on April 5. By the end of April 30, the draft was up to 67,000 words. By the end of May 4 -- 30 days after I started -- it was 81,700.

This is the fastest and most easily I've ever written anything. By a huge margin. My previous record for "most writing in one month" was Nanowrimo 2007, where I dragged myself to just over 50,000 words and disliked the process so much that I never finished the half-completed book. (It's about 80% done now, but has serious structural flaws.) My record for "most writing in 30 days when I was enjoying myself" was 40,000 words in 2006, when I was finishing Silver Scales.

This April, the days when I wrote 1700 or 1800 words were the ones when I groused about how little I had written. ME. I was COMPLAINING about writing a MEASLY Nanowrimo target number. Even I thought this was kind of intolerable on my part.

I slowed down last week: last Monday-Friday I averaged 2200 words per day, and when I woke up Saturday morning I didn't want to write. I wrote anyway, because it's what I do now, but "only" 1800 words or so. Then on Sunday, haikujaguar wrote ten thousand words, and I was spurred to write faster. I've written eighteen thousand words in the last five days. As of this writing Friday morning, the draft stands at 85,200 words.

I have finished writing three books in my life, and each one has been an adventure in what exactly is my writing process, anyway? As of today, I can honestly say: Beats me. *shrug*

I don't know why this book is coming along so quickly and relatively painlessly. I have some guesses, though. In no particular order:

M.C.A. Hogarth

By coincidence, haikujaguar and I started our current WIPs at the same time. We did not start out competing, because my normal standard for a good clip is 500-1000 words per day, and her normal standard is 1500-2500 words per day.

But I came out of the gate unusually fast for me on The Moon Etherium, and rocketed through the first weekend writing over 4,000 words per day. Micah said, "You're on fire!" and then progressed from fire emojis to a volcano emoji. "I should make my new goal 'stay ahead of Rowyn'," she joked. And "ahhhh the lava is going to catch me!"

And then I did.

For ten or fifteen days, I was actually in the lead of our mock race. And if you'd asked me beforehand, "is it a good idea to compete with a friend on who can write faster?" I'd've said "NO NO STAHP WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO YOURSELF AND SOMEONE YOU LIKE?" But we had a competition that consisted entirely of silly jokes and cheering each other on. Any competitive impulse I had to say "no write slower Micah" was overwhelmed by the pleasure of watching her book grow and knowing I'd get to read it sooner the faster she wrote it. She took the lead last Sunday, and I was afraid I'd slow down after it became clear I wasn't going to catch her again. (In the 5 days that I wrote 18,000 words, Micah wrote 30,700).

But I didn't slow. I've been writing 10-20% faster, actually. I make jokes on Twitter about riding my turtle in her wake, and I cheer her on, and I still like the race metaphor just as much now that I'm behind. It's just been fun.


I started writing on April 5, but I started noodling with what became The Moon Etherium six days earlier, on March 30. I wrote several thousand words of notes, world-building, and the solidest outline I've ever made. I labored over the outline, because the book I wanted to write required some cleverness on the part of the characters, and I was afraid I couldn't make it work. When I had the last piece in place and I thought it would all hang together, I wondered if I'd still want to write it. "I already know how the story goes."

Turns out, I do still want to write it. And having the outline there meant I was rarely unsure what I wanted to do next. A couple of times, I stopped to refine the outline further, either because I'd gone off the rails or because it didn't have enough detail for me to know what I was doing. On the whole, it's been great. I do not always want to write what's next, and I have made substitutions/additions/removals as I go along. But so far, I've never felt stuck.

Oh, and the freakiest thing about the outline? When I started, I estimated the total scene count at 74. (In fact, as I was putting the outline together, I simplified something that could easily have been very complicated, because I didn't want to end up with another 200k novel.)

And now, after finishing 57 scenes, my estimated scene count? 78. Four scenes. I'm almost 75% done and my estimate has only gone up by four. Plot points that took more scenes than expected have been almost exactly cancelled out by ones that took fewer.

My estimated length when I started was "80,000 to 120,000 words, but strongly leaning towards 120K". My estimate now? Still about120K. What. I have never accurately predicted length before. O.o Technically, I haven't yet, but I'm two scenes from the book's climax so. Pretty sure it's not going to run to 200K.



I started noodling with a new book idea on March 30 because I'd spent March writing romance-oriented dragon bios in Flight Rising. After the last one, I decided, "If I'm this desperate to write romance, I should write origfic so I can get paid for it."

The Moon Etherium has a lot more non-romance plot than I had originally intended. It was supposed to be the B-plot to keep my protagonists together while they fell in love, and now it's more like the A-plot while the romance is a strong B-plot.

But there's still a lot of romance, and I made a point of scattering the kinds of scenes I like to write throughout the outline. So there were always fun scenes to look forward to, even if the current scene was tricky or hard to write. And I just really like to write people falling in love. This may be bad news for all my story ideas that do not have people falling in love. Oops.

In Progress Readers

I don't know if this made a difference or not, but I'm going to note it here anyway. I haven't had any cheerleaders reading along as I wrote. Usually i serialize my novels-in-progress to a small group of close friends. But I haven't felt a need for outside encouragement, so I haven't looked for it this time. I showed the outline to two people and the first scene to one, and that's it. 85,000 words that no one's seen but me. I haven't even re-read most of it yet myself. WEIRD.

On the other hand, I didn't show most of Further Arrangements to anyone while it was in progress, either, so I don't think this actually gets me to write at several times my usual speed. I suspect "I want to write quickly" correlates with "I don't need encouragement", but the cause is internal motivation, not that external motivation is particularly detrimental to my writing speed.


This weekend will probably be a slow one for me, writing-wise. I am renting a car so I can run errands, I have to mow the lawn (SO BADLY), and I'm feeling a bit burned out. I mean, I wrote a page already today. I'm not STOPPING. But I may not make it to 3000 words today. That's OK.

I do expect to finish the book in May. I'd like to finish it before my trip to Seattle on May 18. We'll see.

And then I have to revise and oh no get a cover and write a blurb and find beta readers and


I'm sure it'll be fine.

PS: 85,000 words in 31 days! WHOA.
Tags: the moon etherium, writing about writing
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