TGIO: My Post NaNoWriMo Recap

Well, it's the end of November and I achieved what I set out to do. This year, I gone and done crazy (and it was crazy, believe me!). I wrote 50,768 words by hand. It took me 17 days; with an average of 3,000 words a day. If you go to my domain, you can check out the daily log that I kept through it all. It details my progress through the month: the good, the bad, and the whining.

TGIO, or Thank God It's Over, happened twice for me this year. The short and sweet point of it happened when I turned in the novel and got official approval of being a winner. However, the earlier and more bittersweet moment happened when I penned the words "The End" onto the last signature of my writing journal. That moment is the hardest, because I I had to say goodbye to the world I've created. Seventeen days is quite a long time to live in the world of my protagonist. A world where magic lives and good triumphs over evil--with nothing more than the power of intellect. I loved writing about the lives of my characters, their journey of uncovering information, and exposing the darker side of what could exist in our world. After spending all that time in this world, it's hard to let it go. This year, when I closed the leather cover, it made the transition from that world back to my world seem very real. I went to bed that night and cried. I wasn't ready to let go. Is any writer really ready for that moment?

But it's all over for me now. Seeing that I've had a week or so to think it all over, I wanted to share some final thoughts on what I learned from the experience of writing longhand.

So what exactly did I learn? Well, I learned that I'm not really into writing novels longhand. I've gained a huge respect for my friends (and the professionals, like Neal Stephenson) who do this with their drafts. But I felt as if I lost some of the ability to really "see" what I wanted to put into the novel. It was more grueling than fun for me.

I learned that it takes about half an Levenger inkwell to pen those 50,768 words. I also learned that my fountain pen could last about 10 pages before refilling again. My husband calculated that I was able to fit in 300 words on a single page during my peak writing (which occurs around the third page of each day). One must write very small in order to fit 3,000 words into a single 10 page signature. I even had to make an additional 10 page signature, because I ran out of space in the bound book. I thought about using a Moleskine Cashier to finish up, but with only 3000 words left to go, I I didn't want to waste the pages. Had I been able to fit a few thousand more words onto the first day or two of writing, I would have finished this year's draft in a single book.

I learned that it takes about 4 hours to write (and count) approximately 3,000 words. Which feels like an eternity of writing during the day. I normally hammer out about 2,000 words when working on a computer. That's usually enough time for me to spend each day working on one single project. Anything more and I get anxious. Had I known it was going to take me 4 hours to write all those words, I'd have maybe... re-thunk the whole idea.

Most importantly, though, I learned that writing longhand and writing on a computer produce two vastly different worlds. Writing by hand taught me to slow down a bit and expand upon both scenes and character. I felt like I had to write more dialogue and get the characters doing more. Whereas, on the computer, I can delve into the surroundings a bit more and give lots of color to the world my characters run around in. Both have their merits but I think I enjoy being able to close my eyes and run around in the world I'm creating while I'm writing.

So, there you have it folks. I'm a NaNoWriMo 2008 winner! I've completed my 7th full first draft of a novel and can proudly say (and bear the writer's bump to prove it) that I did it all by my own hands. Congratulations to all the my other D*I*Y Planner NaNoWriMo participants and winners! I hope you had a wonderful November and fun writing your novels.

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Color me impressed

Innowen, you produced about the same number of words-per-day by hand that I did by using the many typewriters in my life. I don't think I have the resolve to do it by hand -- if only for legibility issues -- but I agree that the pace of doing a NaNo in analog form changes your writing. My biggest boon was not being able to backspace and remove words or sentences or chunks of crud that had just left my fingers, but with that comes the added pain of not being able to go back into the story and insert something I'd just though of that would flesh out character X's storyline. (Though to be fair, that's what my outline should have done.) I am looking forward to taking up pen-in-hand and revising and rewriting sections of my draft, though the task seems daunting and a little overwhelming right now. I kind of went above and beyond the Normal Person word count, and wound up with a 90,000+ behemoth on my desk, with many major parts summarized for later expansion.

I have to ask: now that you've written it by hand, how will you be re-writing it, if at all?

Re-types... actually

Thanks Friend of Pens, and yes, writing without a backspace or delete key really is a freeing feeling, isn't it? :)

My first task (sometime next year) is to get the story into my app of choice, Scrivener. I wager that I'll add and revise from there as I do any of my other works... which is get it into a system, print it out, read it over, and then revise and add.

I'm not really looking forward to getting it into a system. But i know it needs to be done.

Glad you had a fun nano!

AlphaSmart for me

I've got to do a bit (OK, a lot) of editing on the page, but when it goes into a System, it'll likely be via my eBay AlphaSmart Pro. Tres old-school.

You're insane!

As a fellow 2008 winner, I can honestly say that you are insane. Not just "a little eccentric", but full-blown bat-shit insane to do it with a fountain pen. It put you in the same category as the lady who did 200k+ last year. I think of the trials and tribulations of getting to 50k on a computer and I fear that if I did it by hand it would take me on the order of years.

Awesome accomplishment for a single month!

LOL Thanks


Thanks for giving me a great label. I'm not insane.... really. *whistles and tries to look all innocently*. I've had friends who write long-hand NaNo novels every year. Some with a fountain pen and others with gels. I opted to do a fountain pen because the body is fatter and helps relax my hand a bit.

I went into this year's with no idea how much TIME I was going to put into it. Four hours a day is a lot. I had to write, then spend an hour counting the words. Really makes me glad we live in an age of Laptops and word-counting-processor applications.

Who knows, maybe I can get you to do it by hand next year? As for me... once was enough!



I counted every word on every page for the first five days, and then went batty, and started estimating after that. Count the words in the first N lines, multiply by the number of full lines on the page, and then divide by N to get a roughish number. Adjust down for dialog-heavy sections. I could have probably started taking general page estimates too, since I was consistently laying down 12-15 word lines, and 27-29 line pages. If I didn't start estimating, I'd still be counting.

Yanno, I really wanted to do

Yanno, I really wanted to do the estimation but my writing was so uneven and just had no continuity that I decided to just stick with counting it all out. I wanted to err on the side that GAVE ME MORE words than the one that said I needed a lot more.

It's a moot point now... seeing that next year I'll be doing this by computer. Ah, yes... Smudge I've missed you.


Congrats on your

Congrats on your achivement!

I didn't do Nano. I did Mini-Nano and set myself the goal of doing a minimum of 100 words everyday. I ended up with 19,977 words total. (Last year it was 36,000+).

100 words a day seems easy, but unlike with Nano, where you're trying to hit a total word count and can take a day off or even finish early before the month's end, the goal of Mini-Nano is that you must write something *every* day for thirty days. It's a bigger challenge than it seems at first.

A few people I know even did both -- setting themselves daily word goals of 1667, minimum.

"In some situations you need to ask yourself 'WWRD?' What would Riggins do in a situation?"
Landry Clarke -- Friday Night Lights

amazing! congratulations

That is an amazing accomplishment! It must have taken a huge amount of dedication to write out 50,000+ words and have it be all one story. I'm not sure I've ever even written 50,000 words in a year on paper if you add up journaling and everything. And here you go in do it in a month!

A couple details I'm really curious about... How many pages did this end up being? And what kind of fountain pen did you use? Is that a Levenger True Writer hiding behind the bottle?



That's quite an accomplishment. I fell a bit short this year, though I'm going to push through and finish the story after things calm down in January.

I alternate between analog and digital writing depending on where I am and what's happening around me. When I'm just pushing through a draft, however, pen and paper is the best thing for me. I'm not really not that much faster at the keyboard. I've learned and developed a Quickhand shorthand technique, at least for most common words. The rythm of my longhand prose is also much more pleasing to the ear. When I need to read something I've written out loud, I draft in longhand first.

I also have the tendency to edit too much while using a word processor. Even when working on a Nano Novel, the temptation to edit becomes too great. It's then that I almost need to resort to pen and paper.

Congratulations! and Scrivener

I meant to reply to this ages ago but I've been so sad that NaNo is over! It was my first time and I enjoyed every minute of it, despite serious pre-NaNo nerves. I spent half a day beforehand planning a rough outline, and that saved me. Whenever I got stuck, I would look at my little pieces of paper and use them to help me think about where I needed to get to.

innowen, I wanted to tell you especially how I got on with Scrivener. It worked great and I'm now less intimidated by all its features. I wrote a paragraph synopsis for each part of the book, then a sentence synopsis for each chapter/main scene. These don't count towards your word count, but they're visible there in the outline/index card view. Typically, I'd use the outline view and sometimes a split screen with the outline in the top and my chapter I was writing in the bottom. Then I could switch into full screen, no distractions mode if I needed to at any time. Another feature I used was the in-text annotation feature. When I was writing something I knew needed research or checking against another part of the book, I'd write "check this!" right there in the text. These notes would be stripped out when I compiled the final draft to paste into the NaNo site, though of course all of my chapter breakdowns, notes and synopsis notes are still in place for when I go back to edit it. I'm not sure how or when I'll do this yet, but one idea was to look at the all the synopses for the chapters again and see how they fit together.

I hope you'll share some of the process when you begin to edit. I'm looking forward to hearing how you and the other NaNo authors go about it.

Looking forward to NaNo 09 already.


Three words

Scrivener is love.

It certainly is

Do you use it any differently from what I described? I'm interested to know if I'm missing out on some clever way of working I've not grasped yet. And I would love to hear about your editing process too. Maybe I should start a new thread. . .

Not quite

Each scene, or snippet, or vignette, got one file. I intentionaly left the name of each file blank on its index card, though I put in a few-word summary for each scene, as well as indicate on which day of the novel the scene belonged. I used the research section to store pics, the novel's calendar (18 days, and what happens each day) and such, for easy reference.


You, Innowen, were the final nidge that pushed me into joining Nano this year, after watching you and a few others do it several years in a row. Thank you.

I didn't finish (22,309 with several pages unaccounted for...), for whatever reasons, but I learned SO much about myself and my writing, too. I LIKE writing longhand, and my fiction is so much different. I edit less in longhand, and don't go back to change misspellings so much as on a computer. I get more...personal...with the fictional world in longhand than I do through the electronic interface of the computer. But most importantly, I had never written fiction without pre-editing in my head. I always over-thought everything, and in NaNo I learned to let go, write a crappy first draft to get the story out, and leave some things to the editing stage.

While my story is not yet finished, it will be.

Thanks, again, for posting your intention to handwrite it. I hadn't known that was feasible before. And I'm so glad I participated! I'll finish next year!!