NaNoWriMo #32: Day 1… How Did It Go?

We would love to hear your Day 1 NaNoWriMo experience, especially if you’ve engaged with this series and, perhaps, are now writing from a story plan.

Or not.  Whatever works for you… works for you.

There are a whole bunch of us in this boat… let’s support each other and share the love.

47 Comments

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47 Responses to NaNoWriMo #32: Day 1… How Did It Go?

  1. Here, it’s 10:33 pm, October 31st (Happy Halloween!), and my beat sheet/whiteboard/sticky notes plan is a sprawling, seething mass of inconsistencies and misdirection.

    In other words, I’m pumped.

    Best of luck, everyone!

  2. Annie

    It’s just past midnight, so no writing here yet, but…I’m definitely liking my outline/beat sheet. I’ve realized I tend to have non-scenes masquerading as scenes in my outlines: “They travel through increasingly rougher country and the big cats are getting bolder” — yeah, not a scene. I’ve been focusing on identifying meaningful start points and end points for each scene, and things are falling so much more into place.

  3. Patrick Sullivan

    Waiting for midnight and killing time with the intro burning a hole in my brain, as it’s been doing for the past couple hours. I didn’t get the whole idea outlined like I wanted, but I have up to the first Plot Point with each scenes start point, conflict, and Resolution written up in brief form to get me going until this weekend when I plan to plot at least to the mid point.

    Trying something different this year and plotting a 40 scene story instead of a 60 scene one, and so far the outline feels tighter in the first quarter, but that might be that I also have more inherent conflict in this tale then my previous ones, and a brutal underlying theme (overcoming loss). And based on recent books, it’d still be an 80k+ length novel, as I average over 2k words/scene these days.

  4. Flo

    It’s just before two AM, I’ve got my word count for the day and a small step toward the end. I don’t have a full beat sheet, but I think I’ve got plot points and pinch points and an ending. I’m expecting the rest will fill itself in as I go along (and I don’t mind building an after the case beat sheet and polishing my zero draft into a first draft. I do, however have a mental block on writing out a story where I already know all the steps.) It’ll cost me time to write like this, but at least I’m writing toward the goal, not just in circles.

  5. Was able to draw a line in the sand. Let’s see if the characters stay on their side.

  6. Flávia Denise

    I thought I had the first half of the novel all figured out on my beat sheet, but as I wrote it became clear that I had left plenty of room to create during November. I think my first chapter was a bit short, so I expect I’ll write a bit more latter today – I tend to do the first draft very dry and I often have to add color to it latter.

    I’m actually really just happy to have achieved the first day goal. It’s gonna be a long month!

  7. Great. 1742 words! Relatively each because I planned, as Larry coached. Atta by, Larry.

  8. That’s “relatively easy.” My brain’s awake, but it hasn’t motivated my fingers, hey!

  9. 2669 words so far ( I started first thing in the morning, and its now lunchtime) I haven’t edited, corrected spelling mistakes, or even read it back yet. Just typed and typed. I’m hoping to get a load done so that I have a couple of days to rest and check! Its great, I’m loving the adrenalin rush! 🙂

  10. This is my very first time giving this a try and I am so proud to say that I pumped out 2212 words this morning. I feel so accomplished! Very excited.

    I can’t thank you enough for writing this series. While I am sure that I have a long way to go and my beat sheet may be a little “beat up,” but I feel like I can really do this!

  11. Story Engineering was a pivotal book for me and I can tell it saved me from a useless first draft. This series has been great. I loved drinking my coffee and reading it over.
    While doing my beat sheet I discovered one of scenes I really wanted in because it added oodles of context and depth, didn’t actually fit. I was able to make the modifications now instead of trying to force it to fit during a rewrite.
    As for Nano, my word count did not begin at midnight. I have this thing about sleep….

  12. This series REALLY helped me get prepared to start writing. I had all of my notes and my beat sheet, and for about half a minute I was too intimidated to start typing because I’ve been planning for so long… then it all just started coming, and it was brilliant (the experience, not necessarily the words). I’m confident that I have a good plan and that I’ll end up with a good first draft, so I can go back and fix the actual words on the page later.

  13. Alan

    Excellent series. I’ll be revisiting as the month goes on. Good start at a midnight write in last night.

  14. Chillytv

    All is well, I’m starting my second writing session for the day now. I stayed up and had a timed writing at midnight just to get started. I’ve enjoyed all of the posts and have a shortcut to them for when I need help.

    Planning my stories I think is the best way. This will be my second year doing it this way and I hope to see three full stories at the end of the month, regardless of my word count 🙂

  15. Davina

    Been following your tips all month. Thank you for taking the time to spell it all out. Sometimes it’s just what you need and hopefully I shouldn’t have too many plotholes and ‘What the hell am I going to write now?’ moments.

    Day 1 has been not too bad. Managed 4k in between a very busy day at work.
    I know my story, and what I want from it now I just have to execute what I’ve planned. In all, I’m aiming for 5k plus today and 4k tomorrow.

  16. 3700 words. Thanks to you I have a plan that seems to be taking shape. Even had time to correct the typos – of which many. And I have jumping cursor too – must fix that now!

  17. Have my synopsis and beat sheet. Spent the last four days relaxing–from a writing standpoint–and mulling over my story. Needed to figure out a backstory for my heroine on which the entire story would hinge. Today, it came to me and it’s perfect. The writing will be easier now. 652 words and counting.

  18. This is my first NaNo, so I started at midnight because I was too excited. I actually completed 3107 words in two hours! I was pumped. Now, I’m getting back to it so I can try and hit my 5k word daily target.

    I did read most of your blog posts and plan like crazy before starting and I think that is the reason I’m able to write so much right off the bat. Thanks Larry! You rock!!

  19. Larry-it’s going well so far! I planned this novel using some of your tools, laid out my scenes, old-school style, on the kitchen floor yesterday, and pasted them in the proper order for the novel. This morning I hit my day’s wordcount, and I’m feeling pretty good. Thanks for your help in preparation! 🙂

  20. Nick

    3k for today! Very easy to get my ideas out. Beat-sheet and architecture have been invaluable. I felt like I was cheating when I was doing them all last week. It’s like I already wrote the whole book, just not on paper.

  21. My experience of NaNo on Day 1 which is at the moment nearly going to end: http://evilnymphstuff.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/nano-day-1-starting-the-fire-in-heaven/
    This challenge is so exciting! 🙂 I’ve been faithfully reading your posts and awesome tips!! Hope to see more.

  22. This is my 4th year with Nano. I have 2k knocked out for the morning. I bought Story Engineering shortly before you started your NaNo series and both have been invaluable in planning for this year. Structure was the missing piece of my novel puzzle. I love this year’s story but can’t wait to finish because I want to go back and apply your structure notes to my previous NaNo projects!! Thank you so much! 🙂

  23. Day 1 – 1702 words! No matter what ensues, I know I have learned so much for the future in my writing journey. Tomorrow I hope to manage to include gym and music (keyboard class) !

  24. I got the start of a beat sheet done a few days ago, and my overarching vision, plot points, and some other things nailed down before I started. I wrote 3,331 words before sleeping last night and I plan on doing more before the day is up.

    I didn’t stick to the sheet exactly — a character decided to show up unexpectedly and I ran with it — but it’s still flowing in the general way I’d planned. So far, so good. 🙂

  25. Hi;
    I wish i could say that I have been staying with the program here. But I have been writing and have decided to get more serious about it. I have been writing for three hours one day a week so far. I have 34K and some side notes about characters. I have stopped with the progress of the story (that was really really fun) it was like i had heard that if you let them the characters will tell YOU the story. But have stopped because i needed to do some character development and think about details – like location description. The mantra that is of most concern to me is “show them don’t tell them” or something to that effect. I am sorry folks but i do not even know what a beat sheet is. There is no outline. There is only the story and it is rolling along. By the by I just realized it was November.

  26. I got up twenty minutes early this morning to write. After work, I did some more, now I’m officially done for my first day. 2521 words. AWESOME!!!!

  27. @Michael – you mention you don’t really know what a beat sheet is… check this link, plus the links within the post, for a full overview and functional look at this invaluable tool.

    http://storyfix.com/nanowrimo-29-six-tools-to-rescue-or-beef-up-your-beat-sheet

    Also… you’re characters don’t ever start talking to you, that’s your subconcious creative self saying, “self, you’re stuck here, here’s an idea to consider.” Key word there is “consider.” If you run with the first idea, you may or may not have just selected the best idea, and for that, you need to in control of your story, not your “characters,” who don’t ever really dictate their fate… you do that for them. Hope this helps. L.

  28. Emma

    I’m on day 2 and yesterday was very scary… but I made it to my target and didn’t give up because I had a beat sheet (well, beat notecards) to cling to. It is my lifeline. If ever I am doubting myself or my story it’s there… Having it lets me focus on telling the story, getting the words down without over-thinking them, because I don’t have to wonder where I’m headed next.

    For people who think this method is restricting (admittedly, I did too at first), I actually found it liberating. As I was writing, I realised I needed another scene between two of my outlined ones – but I wrote that scene, knowing where I was heading and it got me where I needed to be.

  29. Deedee

    Larry-I picked up your book, Story Engineering, a few months back and it is my new writing bible! I thought I would check to see if you had a blog and about 2 weeks ago I found it. I wish I would have found it on Oct. 1st, but I read all of your posts leading up to this years NaNoWriMo and plugged away at a Beat Sheet! I stayed home from work today to write! I’m at 1784 words and counting!

    I’m a big fan of your structure. I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time without realizing it. The thoughts rumbling around in my head regarding my novels can now become organized. I can actually focus on the art of writing.

    Thanks and You Rock!

  30. JD

    Started a little after midnight, got to 1655 words before quitting for the night, plan to pick it up again tonight, and hopefully add to that total before tomorrow. To be honest, I went into this feeling at first very pumped, but as the starting day approached, quite apprehensive. I have tried to follow the suggestions of the blog series, but the further into the planning stages i got, the more aware I became of my overall story shortcomings. The past week or so Ive even considered scrapping the attempt altogether. I must admit though, when i sat down to actually start writing, i was a little surprised how well the story began flowing, and although I harbor no illusions that this will continue to be the rule rather than the exception, I can say I’m glad I didn’t quit before trying.

  31. Bill Hanger

    Hi Larry- Read Story Engineering over the summer. I was very impressed as it made perfect sense to me. It got me moving on a novel idea I had been spinning my wheels on. Had the first of four acts completed along with most of my beat sheet when you started your nano posts. Last couple of months I found myself moving slow as a tortoise when it came to putting down the words. I tweaked my beat sheet and got some research done while reading your posts over the last month. This nano concept may be what I need to get it done. Did over 2K today and plan to keep that pace. Do you plan on looking at the editing aspect of writing when November has ended? Your humble disciples may have a lot of editing to do. Thanks for all the guidance from both your book and blog.

  32. @Larry
    Thanks i will check that link.
    As for Characters talking to me. I would be lost without them. The story, so far, has just rolled along with me in the passenger seat. The story has holed itself up in a little cabin in the redwoods, all my characters (almost all) are temporarily settled. And now I am learning things about them, about who they are and what motivates them and such. I just learned that two of them are not just sisters, but twins and you would have known this when you first saw them. That IS very exciting. I also learned that one of my characters was going to take his own life until he ran into one of these sisters. It is crazy, I had to change the way the book started. Anyway:
    With characters it seems like it is kind of like in dreams, every character in the dream is me, but then even the sunset and that Mustang convertible is me. I play all the parts. In this story I created my characters but then gave them free will to see what they would do. It is fun, like reading a good novel I am not sure what will happen next though i have some idea. heheheh

  33. Planned (A” Story Engineering” true believer) to write 1600 words and wrote 2600 words on this very fine day in November.

    Sign me,
    Shocked, Shaken, and Pleased

  34. Alrighty Larry… I signed up for NaNo and it’s all YOUR FAULT! First day fell short in word count at 1162, but let me tell you… those are 1162 nicely arranged words! I had the whole thing planned out… and already had huge change #1 occur. But I like the change. A LOT. Good stuff!

  35. I did it!

    After being pumped that Nano was approaching and then getting anxious as it finally arrived, I finally sat my butt down in my chair and wrote (or typed). Over 1800 words.

    Except for academic writing, I don’t think I’ve written this much before for an actual story. Planning, yes. Outlines, yes. But actually starting the story? Not until today.

    I’m proud of myself and couldn’t have done it without the tips I found here. To be honest, I think I almost talked myself out of doing Nano throughout the day. But I’m glad I overcame my fear and accomplished my goal.

    The only thing that worries me now is that I have only about 30 scenes planned out, and they’re turning out to be pretty short. So I hope I come up with enough to write about throughout November!

    Now to do this again tomorrow. And the next day…and the next day….

  36. Patrick Sullivan

    Tip for people who are doing this for the first time. Shoot for more than the minimum for the first week. Two reasons for this.

    1) It builds momentum to make coasting easier later.

    2) In case you hit a rough patch (most of us do) you’ll be able to fall behind deadline on later days without stressing it. This really helps keep flow going without any real worry once things get to the nitty gritty.

  37. Angela Craven

    Day one: 1400 words. To be fair, a lot of it was filling out answers from a list you’d sent out in email. The night is still young and I’m far from finished. My goal is 2000 a night.

    I am very excited about my NaNo this year. I’ve read your book, I’ve planned my story out and my dry-erase board is full (complete with arrows and colored circles.)

    I’ve signed up for a writing class this fall semester to help with critiques and have learned even MORE working on short stories. I’m being shown my weaknesses through the workshops.

    Thanks for your book, for the encouragement, and the goals. Let’s make this a GREAT NaNoWriMo everyone!!

  38. Sara

    I think I’ve written close to 1200. (I’m writing by hand, and I don’t really know until I type it up, so I’m estimating 250 a page.) So far the content follows my beat sheet precisely, down to the number of pages I estimated per scene.
    I just found this site through a NaNoWriMo link maybe a week and a half ago, while trying to find new ways to arrange my plot mentally. I think your “plot points” are the same as James Scott Bell’s “doorways”, Larry, but it helped to get another perspective. I have a solid outline as a result, and I’m very excited about this story.
    My beat sheet isn’t complete, but it has all the major points and I’ll keep filling in the blank spots between when I can think straight–I’m a health care provider in the military, currently deployed, and my soldiers are very needy lately so we’ll see how this whole thing goes. It helps that I have a different world to visit once I’m done for the day.
    Thanks for all the tips, they’ve been extremely helpful.

  39. Amanda

    Larry, you are the bomb! I started writing this novel 2 years ago – by the seat of my pants and came to a dead stop somewhere around the halfway mark. Read all your October posts (of course, because I read them everytime they come to my inbox already), read your book (or actually, started it again & finished it this time), completed a full beat sheat for my entire novel (with an ending and everything, that being the reason I stalled before – no idea where I was going). I “wrote” 3200 words yesterday. Actually, just proofed and changed the prologue and scene one that were still ok from the original and then went on to write scenes 2 & 3. They’re pretty short, but their missions are clear! I’m so excited.

  40. eliza tilton

    I almost didn’t write due to travel and finishing a really good book, but I managed to squeeze in a couple paragraphs.

  41. Marcia

    I must say, this is a lot of fun! About 1500 words so far. When I get home from work, I’ll get back to it. I figured out I can keep my document in Google Documents and continue to add to it as it comes to me, even at work. Thanks for all of the advice and ideas you have given us. This is my first novel ever!

  42. Ben

    My experience was similar to Yesenia. I was getting all pumped up for NaNo, but almost talked myself out of it. In the end, I sat down with my beat sheet and pounded out 2,300 words. It felt awesome. It’s the most writing I’ve done in three years. If you feel inclined to click on my name and visit my website, I am blogging about my experience. I owe a lot to Larry for getting me this far. Here’s hoping I can keep up the pace.

  43. The first day rocked. The daily word count is easy to hit if you know what you’re writing about and what your mission is for each scene. Thank you Larry!!

    Unfortunately, the second half of my novel isn’t as fleshed out as I would like. I know the major pinch/plot points and how it ends, but need to work on the details. Hoping to get ahead in word count so I can delve into planning the second half more.

    Good luck, all!

  44. Andrew

    My first Nanowrimo resulted in 35K words of crap. Two years later I understand story structure. Following the Nanowrimo tip per day in October was like training before a fight. I’ve got a game plan. Complete with knockout blows and baited traps eager to spring. Oh snap, somebody let this kid loose!

    Here’s to hoping we all keep the fires stoked through the second week, and the third, and the (grr…) fourth week.

    Many thanks for the inspiration and guidance, Larry.

  45. Beckie

    First I like to say that your on-line advice is as sound as it is in person Larry. We meet briefly last May at the LDStoryMakers conference. I’ve since bought your book, read it, highlighted it and made notes and got it spiral bound so I could flip through it with ease! I mapped out a story that’s dear to my heart and then set it aside for NaNo. I took your advice and planned the pants off of another story. I’ve poured out 3957 words and am on the biggest high I’ve had it years. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to write and how easy it is because I’ve planned it out with awesome detail. I’ve found delightful developments as I’ve wrote things down and I just giggled as I slid them into place. Big happy writing Hugs to you!

  46. Carmen

    I’m having so much more trouble than I thought I would. I’m attempting to approach difficult rated R subject matter in a PG-13 way. It was all necessarily glossed over in the beat sheet/outline, so I didn’t have to think about it much beyond knowing that I wanted this to be graceful and mildly provocative rather than graphic, crass or explicit. The approach needs to be purposeful rather than cowardly. This is delicate. I was hoping the “Why the heck am I bothering with this?!” moment wouldn’t hit me until much later. Plodding along anyway…

  47. David

    Hey Larry,

    Another nonfiction book to add to your list is: Talent is Overrated. The premise is similar to Malcolm Gladwell’s Oultiers, except he states that an individual needs to engage in years of ‘deliberate practice.’ This is crystalized in the book when he takes some test cases such as Mozart, Tiger Woods, and Jerry Rice. A great read, and one that made me think about what ‘deliberate practice’ looked like for me as a writer.

    I look forward to the compilation of your blogs as I have not had time to read them all. The compilation will make it easier for me to read them.

    david