Halfway There… Sort Of

My word count for NaNoWriMo currently stands at 26,233. This places me just slightly past the half-way mark for the 50,000 words needed to “win” NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, it does mean I’m a few days behind, even for just the minimal level of success, rather than my personal goal of 60,000 words in November.

It has been a lot harder than I had imagined to force myself to try to write 2000 words per day. Part of it, I’m sure, comes from not actually knowing what comes next — I’m thinking now that if I had outlined the plot before starting writing, I’d be better at churning out prose, whereas I currently sit and stare an the screen until I manage to plunk down something. And what I do write is terrible. It’s not the sort of thing I’d ever voluntarily show to people, it’s that bad, although I do have one reader as I go. I think the story is shaping up okay, thanks to comments from my sole reader, but there will have to be massive rewrites before it’s viewable by anyone else.

My big concern now is that I don’t know how long this story is going to take to tell. I’d love nothing more than to finish November with a complete draft of the story, so that I can set it aside for a while and work on something else. I like the story that is developing, but after 30 intense days working with it, I think I’ll want a break… and yet, I don’t want to leave it until it is done. Given how far along I am in the story at 26,000 words, I’m becoming more and more skeptical that it will be finished by the end of the month.  Perhaps if I’m lucky I’ll manage to tighten up my writing and move through the plot more efficiently in the next 25,000 words.

Novel Writing — So Far, So Good

So I’m two days into NaNoWriMo, and so far I’m on track with my personal goal of 2000 words per day. Meeting that goal, however, is taking longer than I anticipated.

Part of the problem is that I’m still trying to write something that isn’t terrible. This is, of course, a laudable objective, but when you have to write 2000 words per day in your spare time, it is one that must be sacrificed to placate the gods of quantity. I just have to keep reminding myself that I can fix it up and make it better later, and that no one but me has to see it in this state.

The other problem, of course, is that 2000 words is quite a lot to write in one sitting. I had planned to do it all in a row — a couple of hours, first thing every morning. But that hasn’t been working out so well thus far, so perhaps I’ll split my writing sessions in half — do a thousand words in the morning, and a thousand in the evening. I imagine I’ll wait a few more days to see if things become easier once I get into the habit.

On a related note, I had been intending to use OpenOffice.org Writer to compose my novel. I like the notion of the Open Document Format, which will help ensure that something will be able to open my novel file ten years down the road — even if I have to write my own software to do it. Thus, it was somewhat distressing to have it respond very sluggishly, and crash twice, taking a bit of text with it that I only managed to salvage by doing a print screen before killing the program. I don’t know whether this is the fault of this new version that I’m running (as the last version I used seemed quite stable and responsive), my computer itself (which has been kind of flaky lately), or the additional dictionaries that I installed, but all I do know is that when I went back to using Corel WordPerfect 12, that worked just fine.

On the topic of dictionaries, please allow me another mini-rant. When I installed this latest version of OpenOffice, being Canadian, I selected Canadian English as my language of choice. This would seem to be a pretty straightforward feature in a word processor, but apparently it is not, as once I started using the software, I noticed that the spell check did not work. After doing some digging online, I managed to find a suggestion to run a wizard to add new dictionaries, and was able to select Canadian, UK, and US English, and French and Canadian French — these being the language variants I might ever need to write something in. This did, indeed, get the spell check working, but I was rather put out that when selecting an alternate language as the default, the program did not:

  1. automatically install the necessary dictionaries;
  2. at least offer a warning that the spell check was not working because a dictionary was not installed;
  3. have an easier method of getting the dictionaries than launching some wizard that was actually what looked like a macro-laden document.

There was a warning that installing too many dictionaries might be problematic, but I’m not sure whether the five I selected count as too many. In any event, I’m rather irritated with OpenOffice, and won’t be using it again for a little while. (This is still good in contrast to the absolute loathing I have for Microsoft Word, which I do not use if there is any other option available to me. Even writing a single page letter in Word can be an exercise in frustration.) If WordPerfect manages to piss me off… well, I guess I’ll just use LaTeX, like I do for all my professional writing.