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The 100 day challenge

Discussion in 'NaNoWriMo' started by Chilari, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    Here's the thing: I'm sick of getting stuck in the middle of stories, or writing a few scenes and going back again to thinking about the story. I've had enough of not completing what I've started. But while NaNoWriMo is all well and good, I feel it's too much. 1667 words a day is a lot, day after day, and after a certain point I find myself sacrificing quality for quantity, which isn't good. And then, after 30 days of being tired, pushing myself too far, writing poorly in both fiction and the assignments I've had to do, I end up with a half-complete novel with massive gaps in it because I hit a wall and still needed the words.

    So this is what I'm going to do: starting tomorrow, which actually is in about 15 minutes, I'm going to try to write a novel in 100 days. This should take me roughly to the end of September, which is also when I stop being a student. Also in that time I'll need to research and write a 15000 word dissertation, spend a week digging at an iron age hill fort, and find a job for next year, but I should have sufficient time in the evenings and weekends to write.

    I don't have a concrete plan. I'm working on a novel I barely planned when I first attempted it in November last year for NaNoWriMo, and I only got 5000 words into it then. Since then I've paid almost no attention to it, and even gave it up for salvage, stealing one of the characters to use in something else (which also ended up in the "I'll deal with it later" pile). I've got a notes file which basically outlines the world and the characters, not even the overall plot. My notes are arranged under subjects including "themes I want to include", "plotlines I want to include", "religion" (a key part of the story), "factions" (including two monarchist factions, one oligarchic faction, a monarchist neighbouring country, and a group of escaped slaves, criminals and homeless debtors), and "characters" (giving about three sentences for each, with who they are, their outlook and demeanor, what they want, what they learn, and what faction they most identify with).

    So that's it. I don't have a plot, beyond a vague idea in my head losely based upon what I was doing last year. I plan to see how things go, how characters change what I had previously planned. I'm going to record how my writing goes, what difficulties I face, how my life impacts it and is impacted by it, probably once or twice a week. And I'm going to write for 100 days and see what comes of it.

    I'll be recording all this over on my LJ, where I have also posted all of the above, and I welcome anyone else who wishes to join me in this challenge, particularly if you feel the same way about never completing stuff. The goal is a complete novel in 100 days, however long that might be - assuming about 100,000 words, fairly standard for a debut fantasy novel, that's 1000 words a day.
  2. Fodwocket

    Fodwocket Minstrel

    Good luck ^_^ I know exactly what you mean, I find it really hard to hit the 1667 words each day, cause I tend to write slowly, and refuse to write unless I think it'll be of some quality or at least has a chance of staying in the book. When I did the 1000 a Day May with Kate I actually found that to be much, much easier, so I've been sticking to that lately. Still gets the writing done so quickly. So best of luck with your novel, and keep us updated ^_^

    Also, if you don't mind a lot of profanity, I found this quite amusing and mostly very true, though like you, I find the Nano approach of just writing like crazy (his .4) doesn't work for me.

    25 Things You Should Know About Writing A Novel
  3. Derin

    Derin Troubadour

  4. Kate

    Kate Troubadour

    I hardly ever finish anything either, and like you Chilari, I'm sick of that. This time will be different!!!!! (did I sound confident?)

    I feel exactly the same way about these massive writing challenges. While I love Nano, and have enjoyed doing it for the past few years, it's not always the best way to get work done. It's good for getting the creative juices flowing, but I think when the times comes that the juices are already flowing and you're ready to aim for quality over quantity, the smaller the goal, the higher the quality. Well.... in theory. That's why I bowed out of the 50k June challenge. I'm still doing on average 1000 words a day, like Fodwocket and I did in May, and I do it most days but don't need to freak out if I miss a day or three. The story is still happening.

    Loving the 25 things about writing a novel. All so true. :)
  5. Bella

    Bella Acolyte

  6. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    I've been attempting NaNoWriMo for four years now, and won it twice; I'm even an ML. But NaNo lacks something I can't quite put my finger on. It has the community spirit, the support systems, the busy forums, the concept of a deadline and a goal, but in many ways it is too much to expect 1667 words per day for 30 days solid, and in other ways it's not enough to end up with a 50,000 word unfinished document. It leaves the novel incomplete, and after the end of November, the support networks NaNo encourages are virtually cut off. And that 50,000 word goal includes anything you wrote in November but the next day decided to remove, because you still wrote it; it just ends up with a strikethrough in the document. I find that, while I might have 50,000 words written, there are usually several scenes that are striked through, so that's down 5,000 words; several scenes written during word wars or with Write Or Die, so they're rubbish and littered with typos like a child went overboard with sprinkles on their ice cream; and where I've gotten stuck, rather than stop and think, have a shower, or go for a walk, I just write "finish this scene", highlight it green so I can find it later, and skip to something more interesting. What results is an incoherent manuscript full of typos, mistakes, green highlighted text, jumping back and forth, chunks of crossed out text, and things in square brackets where I've forgotten a side character's name while in a word war and have written [high priest] or something instead. And also "///" where word wars had started and finished so I can get an accurate word count without guessing where I began, and so I can finish the sentence before I forget it but not include it in the wordcount after the timer has run out.

    So NaNoWriMo is all well and good; the concept of just bashing out a first draft, with community support, a deadline, and a website to record progress and/or whine about lack of progress on, is good. But the reason I'm trying the 100 day novel is for a different kind of challenge. A novel is not restricted by wordcount, or defined by it. I can't count those scenes which have been struck through, I can't skip scenes and still succeed. And it doesn't matter if I've hit a particular word target today, as long as I'm happy with what I have written. It allows me to go at a more considered pace, to look back and make corrections and add things in. It lets me think before I type, to pause mid paragraph without worrying that it'll cost me the word war.
  7. mudart

    mudart Acolyte

    When I heard about NaNoWriMo I was excited. Then I found out it was 50,000 words and quickly became disenchanted. Why do I want to spew out 50,000 words in a month? Guaranteed dreck that will require too much rewriting. Good luck on the 100 day project. Will you keep track of daily word counts?
  8. Dante Sawyer

    Dante Sawyer Troubadour

    I think that is the most important thing. I used to do the same thing, get a couple thousand words into something, and then just stop. I was only worried about how much I was writing and not if what I was writing was good or not. I really admire the goal you've set for yourself in this.
    Best of luck!!
  9. EParadise

    EParadise Scribe

    So...September is almost up. Where are you sitting on your goal?
  10. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    Um. I didn't really get very far. Maybe next year.

    In fairness, though: Dissertation. I spent most of the summer stressing about what Aristotle and Pliny the Elder said about bees and how it shows up in the archaeology and whether there was any correlation between the symbolic significance of myths about bees and the economic importance of honey, wax, and other products of the hive in the ancient world.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  11. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    A rather specific dissertation, but it sounds interesting. I love bees (well... in theory; I freak out around bees unless I am wearing something to protect me from getting stung) and honey. One of my stories - I use story here in a more "novel" sense than a "plot" sense - is about a woman exploring the food production process of her world, so she spends a few chapters with some beekeepers (as well as cheesemakers, at a vineyard, etc.).

    I only really like NaNo for the thriving - and to be honest, yearround - community that it's created. I just don't find it... challenging, anymore. I've been doing it for years, and my most recent attempt was at 50,000 in about 13 days. I just don't need to pomp and circumstance anymore for writing a first draft, but I still save an idea for November because I like the forums and I have many friends who partake. I also don't really find myself 'sacrificing' quality for quantity, because no matter how much effort I put into my first draft, I have to rewrite the thing anyway. :p And it's not like I ever throw in a random sex scene or something to fill up a thousand words if I lack inspiration for the day.
  12. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

    I guess the thing is Nano is what you make of it. You can given into your word war, write anything no matter the consequences nature or you can plan excessively before hand, give yourself enough regular material to last 50,000 and see what happens.

    Though maybe since I have yet to do Nano, I don't know a thing, I'll probably fall into the trap of writing rubbish at some point [probably at the two week mark if scare stories are true] but I'm currently under the impression that if I try my hardest to not coast through it, I can write a half way decent draft. I don't expect it to be any good, I don't expect to finish, but at least I will have gotten something down to be worked on. Without trying it I doubt I would have the reason to explore characters through narrative or stumble upon any hidden plot points, or ... you get the picture.

    100 day challenge though does sound like a good idea. A lot less stressful than Nano.

    In my mind the stress of finding a job, find time to look at the property market, AND having 50,000 looming over me, will be just the push I need to get going with this damn novel of mine haha

    ... Either that or I'll fail miserably, piss off my family, and be a mere husk of a man by the end of it all.

    It'll be fun! :D

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