How to NOT write a novel in 3 days: #3DNC 2016 wrap-up

So, let’s start with the bad news first: I failed to finish my 3 Day Novel, Manbots Attack!, this year.

Indeed, I only came up with 5,926 total words over three days. 6,789 counting my outline. Pathetic!

On day one, I wrote only 2,687 words.

One day two, I wrote 1,599 more words.

And on day three I wrote 1,640 words.

But I know what I did wrong. And I think I know how to fix it. So let’s dissect the reasons why my robot novel failed to be written in three days.

Reason #1: I didn’t do enough pre-planning

My outline was sketchy, at best. It was a really, really rough draft of an outline, not at all as refined as the one I used during Ninjas of the 512.

It had a huge plot hole in it, right from the start, as I was debating between swapping out the Manbots for something that would be much less fun to write about, in order to make the story seem more “realistic.”

Why would I want the plot of a story about Manbots to be realistic?!

I don’t know, either. Obviously, my idiotic Editor Brain got a hold of the story before I’d even begun and started tampering with the goods.

In addition to my sketchy outline, I hadn’t really done any character sketching. I knew I was going to have a female mad scientist, her horrible (male) boss, and two female coworkers. I also thought she should have a husband who was driving her crazy, but no kids. But I hadn’t even picked a name for her, nor for any of my other main characters. I didn’t know what really made any of them tick. And so when I sat down to write, I wasn’t quite sure where to take them, or where they wanted to go.

Big mistake.

Reason #2: I left the house too much

While leaving the house during the 3 Day Novel Contest is occasionally suggested, I definitely left my keyboard way too much this year. I went to Costco with my husband on Saturday (although I did stay in the car, sketching out my characters), I went to the gym on Sunday (and forgot both my Fitbit and my iPod in the process, so my workout was totally shoddy), and on Monday we went to the grocery store where everybody gave me dirty looks for wearing my “Art Harder, Motherfucker” t-shirt. Whatever, squares. Y’all are just jealous.

Reason #3: Not enough time actually spent writing

I was the Procrastination Champion, playing stupid games on my iPad, checking in on Facebook drama, tweeting nonsense, rearranging my stack of writing t-shirts, Googling crazy shit like how to build an actual robot (like I need this information? I’m writing fiction here!), watching YouTube videos of Simone Giertz‘s crappy robots (man, some of them are really crappy!), wondering how I could acquire a title like “Queen of the Shitty Robots,” watching Skillshare videos by some Eastern European lady who was teaching us how to make vibrabots (i.e. vibrating robots), which she pronounced like “Bieberbots,” cooking breakfast, lunch or dinner…

In short, doing pretty much everything but writing my novel.

Not knowing exactly where my story should be going, I wasted a ton of time trying to figure out what on earth I was doing, as well as outright avoiding the problem, instead of just writing some scenes that might have helped me figure that out.

Not a great plan.

My 3 Day Novel was a bust…

All in all, I screwed up. But I did get a bunch of crazy ideas, and wrote some scenes that may not end up on the cutting room floor when all is said and done.

But I definitely need to write a lot more scenes before this book will be a complete first draft.

And I definitely need a lot more guidance from my outline. I literally wrote “????” for one scene, because I had no clue how I would get from Almost Done in the previous chapter to Actually Done in the final one. I mean, really? Seriously? Come on, Planning Robot, help me out here.

And by “Planning Robot” I mean my brain.

…But I’ll be back!

Although I didn’t manage to complete my novel in one exciting burst of manic energy, I plan to return to it with a better map in hand this November.

As always, I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), and yes, I will be cheating by bringing in some of the scenes I wrote this weekend.

If it gets the book done, it’s worth it.

If not, well, at least I’ll have given the project 30 more days to gel in my mind.

How was your Labor Day weekend?

If you attempted a 3 Day Novel this year, let me know how it went and what your book is about!