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InkTober Prompts After-Action Report

As some of you enter into your third day of NaNoWriMo, and others enter into your third day of thinking about whether you could catch up, or wishing you could do NaNo this year, I’ve just finished my month-of-writing. Here’s how my month of Inktober Prompts turned out!

The Goal: Using InkTober’s 2019 prompt list, write every day.

That was it. Because unlike NaNo with its set rules of writing on one piece of fiction and to a set wordcount, I merely wanted to accomplish one impossible thing before breakfast, not three. Given in the months leading up to this, writing was something accomplished at most 2-3 times a week, it seemed impossible.

The results: I did, indeed, manage to write every day.

It wasn’t impossible after all, just difficult (some days) and easy (but time consuming) on others. No, I didn’t actually think I’d accomplish it when I set out, and yes, sheer stubborn cussedness got me through some of the days. Writing actually got less time consuming as I started to get a feel for how to fit it into my workflow, and still get chores done. The learning curve for how to do that, and the dropping everything else on high word count days, has left me behind on chores… but that’s no different from picking up any other obligation.

Most Number of words written in a day: over 8,400

Least Number of words written in a day: 5

I did not keep daily wordcount – in part, because a large chunk was written longhand. (I can write in downtime at Day Job, but I can’t use the computer system to do so.) Besides, the point wasn’t wordcount; it was doing the thing at all. But most days I got around 400-1200 words, with only two days north of 4,000, and a bare handful of days where my brain shut down and it was pulling teeth to get anything at all.

Number of stories worked on / started: 12

Number completed: 0

Again, something I personally feel chagrined about: my brain is skipping like a record player. Sometimes back to an old story, often sideways to something new and where’d that come from? For which I blame my husband and friends, because if they hadn’t pushed me into publication, I wouldn’t feel this pressure and shame at failing to be able to finish things. This is how I’ve always written; finishing is the exception. But readers have expectations, and they’re not for partial fragments… and I’m failing people who want more complete stories.

Well, I may have gotten closer. One story went from dead in the water at about 8K in to rewritten almost from scratch with a new plot, and stalled at 12K… there’s a structural flaw that I can’t figure out yet, but I’m pretty sure my brain dropped it so I can come back in a few months and go “Oh! The characters are doing X, and they need to be doing Y” or something like that.

The one I excerpted here started life as a 800-word scene written near the climax, and is now at 11K into the beginning before I couldn’t figure where it goes next.

A third one got 22K words, including most of the end, but it’s missing structural sections of “I know what should go here roughly, but haven’t figured out exactly enough to write it.”

The rest? Isolated scenes of random things, bits and bobs, odds and ends.

…On the other hand, I have to remind myself finishing wasn’t a goal when I set out. I set out what I didn’t think I could accomplish, and I managed it. so I need to knock off the unearned guilt for not doing another “impossible task” that I didn’t specifically set out to do.

The state of the house: Messier than normal, partially due to the learning curve on how to fit the extra time requirements into my workflow, and partially due to just not having much brain or grit left to tackle things I really don’t want to do and can put off. (Let’s not talk about the unmopped state of my kitchen floor.) Not a disaster zone, just not… up to par, much less up to guests.

(Also, work was having one of *those* months, and we also fit a trip into the middle of the month. But who ever has a month free of something?)

Will I do it again? Well, Um, I do appear to be writing every day now. It’s a habit. But if I have a day where I’m mentally exhausted and drained, I’m not going to force it.

Will I NanNo? Heck No! In fact, now that I’ve written this, I’m going to go clean the toilets and replace the fill valve on one, because it’s needed doing for a week. And laundry. And probably still avoid mopping my kitchen floor…

8 Comments
  1. Spent the day cleaning house. Will do a little more, then sleep.

    November 3, 2019
  2. My plotting/structuring my story seems to be mirroring you.

    Are you my secret doppelganger / psychic sister or something?

    Cue X-Files theme.

    November 3, 2019
  3. Jane Meyerhofer #

    As someone who is ridiculously fan girlish over your stories I feel impelled to comment on the question of whether you are failing me.

    No!

    Do I need to say that more clearly?

    This is not “more clearly”. I read a book about the Invisible Man written in the ’80s (?) whose title I can’t quite remember by a guy named … I think… H. F. Saint. (A terrible movie was made of it, just sayin’.) One idea he repeated over and over, by making the hero think it, was that the invisible guy’s need for help did not impose an obligation on any particular other person. Agh! Too complex to explain further here … }:-{.

    I’m glad you are writing if you are glad you are writing.

    November 3, 2019
  4. A thought occurred to me after tea (and a mopped kitchen floor) this morning: adding up the wordcount I have on the longest stories on the computer, and looking at the notebooks and other files… I did pass the 50K mark and then some, for the month. So, really, even writing “just to a prompt” managed to get 50K done. Huh.

    Maybe I accomplished two impossible things before breakfast.

    Huh. I think I’ll go have some nice Pinelandian pancakes to celebrate. Because that’s… apparently I’m doing better than I think I am?

    November 3, 2019
  5. I’m doing NaNo, but that’s because like you, I decided I have to push the discipline of the art – and I did Inktober as an artist, but miniaturized to make sure I didn’t overdo – into the writing daily. So I may not make the 50K, and I am doing a hybrid manuscript for NaNo, so I won’t have one cohesive novel at the end. But I don’t care. The accountability to do the daily writing is what I need it for. it’s a good habit to get back into.

    November 3, 2019
  6. Writing is a whole box full of different skills. I remember my pleased surprised when I first finished a story. And then somehow that drudgery of editing . . . evolved into a delight at seeing the polished whole coming together without those jumpy transitions. Some day I may begin to like copyediting . . . nah! That’s a bridge too far.

    So maybe your next project should be learning how to finish stories by finishing stories.

    November 3, 2019
  7. Mary #

    I’m not NaNoing because I don’t have an outline. (And I didn’t try to push it becuase the year I pushed an outline was HORRIBLE.)

    November 3, 2019

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