Last year, I was able to successfully write sixty thousand words during National Novel Writing Month. When I was finished, I kept on going and successfully finished a ninety thousand word novel. I will be sending that novel out for contests in the next few weeks. This year I am going down in flames after only eight thousand words. Why did I succeed last year and fail this year?
Last year, I planned. This year, I did not.
Last year, I had my three act structure already in my head before I wrote a single word. I had the front of a yellow page of paper completely marked up with notes. I had character sketches scribbled on a second page. After I cranked through the first few thousand words, I was able to keep going because I knew what came next. Most important, I knew what the book was about... it was about a father daughter relationship
This year, I did not finish, and know that I will not finish. I was able to crank out nine thousand words over the first few days. They weren't bad. Then I hit the wall. I did not know what the next scene was. While I had a good idea about Act III, I had no idea about Act II, the middle. I wanted the main character's family to be involved in the story, but I didn't know when they would come in and join the hero. That is not a small concern. It is hard to write a chase scene if you don't know how many people are being chased.
To those of you who are still going, good luck and God Speed. To those of you who who are giving up, perhaps you should Na No Wri Mo into Na no Out Mo...National Novel Outlining Month.