So, I Cheated on NaNoWriMo

Hey there Epic Dreamers! 
It’s been a while since I’ve said that. I think since early November. It feels good to be back after two months of auto posting. I hope I didn’t forget how to write a post. 😛

The month of November was NaNoWriMo, so I spent the month attempting to get 50000 words down. I’ve done this a few times before, but this time I made it harder on myself and tried to get those words out of a detailed outline and not a first draft, which is the best way to utilize NaNo. I didn’t do this on purpose (who would torture themselves like that?). I had just finished my fourth draft of The Hashna Stone the day before NaNo (Bad timing right? All those words going uncounted). But I couldn’t waste the opportunity to use the motivation NaNo gives to push myself, not to mention I really an addicted to NaNo and the thought of interrupting my winning streak was too much for me to bear. For every year won, a little flame decorates the year of participation. My OCDness wouldn’t let year  5 go without the flame.

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So I decided to use November to work on a detailed outline of book two of The Hashna Stone

The problem was that outlining starts with brainstorm, and while sometimes that includes sitting at the computer and word vomiting, it also includes a bunch of walking in circles while muttering to yourself. In the brainstorming process, there is a lot of time spent away from the computer. Needless to say, this didn’t help my word count. I did write a more detailed outline than what I did for The Hashna Stone (which I think will make the actual writing of the book easier, and it allowed my to do a bunch of cool things that would be a mess if I tried to figure it out in the first draft). I also did some world building and character development that added some words to my floundering word count, but in the end I was still about 10,000 words short.

So what did I do? I cheated of course. 

cheated

I took the words from the last three chapters I rewrote in The Hashna Stone and added it to my word count. 

This seemed fair because I did think about waiting for NaNo to write those chapters since it was only a week and a half away, but I couldn’t stand to hold myself back from writing. Life does that enough without me doing it to myself. So I went ahead and wrote them, naively thinking that I would still have enough words to write. 

I may not have the words, but I still put the time in. I could have blabbed on for 10,000 words about nothing, but I would have rather used that time to come up with terrible situations to put my characters in. When you spend two hours going over possibilities in your head and come away with two sentences, it’s unfair to measure success by a word count. In one month, I went from having no clue what would happen in the second book to figuring out everything from beginning to end.

So yes, I borrowed 10,000 words from the week before November and didn’t actually write all the words in November. But I did reach my goal for the month: to have a detailed outline. Moving forward with the story matters more than a certain number of words. Isn’t that why we do NaNo in the first place?

I guess you’re going to call the NaNo police on me and I’ll be put in a room with no laptop, no pen and paper, and ordered to refinance from writing while serving my time. 
But I still think it was worth it, just to have those little fires all in a row.

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13 thoughts on “So, I Cheated on NaNoWriMo

  1. When I explain the rules of NaNoWriMo to non-writers, a surprising number of them gasp and ask, “But don’t people just CHEAT?” I thought about that for a while and decided my answer is, “Who cares?” It’s not like claiming that winner’s flame means you win some prize (well, except for the discounts on software and services, but come on, they’re just trying to get you to buy their stuff — they certainly don’t care). You could sign up and then not write a single word, and just submit nonsense — or a story you’d already written the year before — but who would that hurt except yourself, for squandering the opportunity? The whole point of NaNo, to me, is to encourage yourself to write more than you would have otherwise. If NaNo motivated you, and you worked hard and made progress, then good for you.

    I know plenty of folks who write piles of steaming crap during November — they don’t call it cheating, but it’s just as bad. Like the ones who have hardly any words written by week 4 and then somehow spit out 15000-20000 words per DAY in the last couple of days to finish off. Yeah, right. No way is that quality stuff. Then there are the people who write page after page of stream of consciousness, admitting that none of it makes any sense and they’ll just throw it out later, “But hey, it’s words, it counts.” Or the folks who brag about how clever they are at tricks that use more words, like naming their main character Hi Chi Lir and getting three words every time she’s mentioned into of one. Sure, these people put 50,000 words into a document. But were they worth the same as the 40,000 words you did? Not bloody likely.

    It sounds to me like you went into it with a good plan and followed through, that it was a useful experience, and that you produced more quality stuff than any of these posers. So take that fricking flame: you earned it just as much as these others.

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    1. This was the most inspiring thing I’ve read about NaNo. 😀
      You made some good points. There are a lot of people who have a ton of words at the end of NaNo but the quality is lacking. I mean, none of us come away with 50000 words that don’t need to be drafted a few times and edited, but if the majority of it is just going to be tossed out anyway, I think they missed the point of NaNo. Especially if they name their character Hi Chi Lir to get more words. (That one cracked me up :P)
      I feel better having stuck to my plan and reached my goal and be a bit short than if I wrote a bunch of words just for the sake of writing words.
      When it came down to the last few days and I realized I was done with the outline and extra world building and was still short, I did think about writing a bunch of crap. Like just writing whatever came to my mind whether it had anything to do with the story or not. But spending hours on something I was just going to throw away seemed so pointless, it made my head hurt just thinking about it. 😀

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      1. Happy to inspire! After all, we’re all here to support each other, right? I’m glad you’re satisfied with what you accomplished, and didn’t waste time writing a bunch of crap just to technically follow the rules. I’ll admit that I’m unfamiliar with this idea of the world building being “done” though. 😉 I always have some topic I’d like to jabber on about to further clarify or flesh out my world– or that needs to be completely re-thought and re-organized — especially if I’m supposed to be actually writing the novel! Which of course is why my world building documents are completely out of control… hmm…

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      2. Exactly. I don’t know what I’d do without the support of friends like you. 🙂
        Well, maybe I didn’t have as much world building to do since I already wrote a book set in that world. And I didn’t add any new characters, so there wasn’t all the character sheets and magic system stuff to do like there was for the first book.
        At least you have a thorough knowledge of your world! 🙂

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      3. I keep thinking I have a pretty good idea of the world, and then some question of geography arises where suddenly it makes zero sense that Culture 1 would migrate down this way and go to war with Culture 2, and BAM, there goes the timeline into smithereens. 😦

        Plus every time I write a new story or even a new flash fiction piece, I keep adding new world building. Ooh, shiny new cultural ritual!

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  2. I don’t think the “rules” of NaNoWriMo are meant to be taken too seriously. I mean, it was created to get people inspired to write, so if that’s what it achieved, then it did what it meant to. 🙂

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