Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Novel Progress: 75k

Today I passed 75,000 words on the initial draft of my novel. Based on my outline, I think I’m on target to reach “The End” at around 100k words in the middle of May.

Writing a novel is hard. And yes, that’s not a surprise to me. But, still… even when I love the setting and characters, writing about them in the same story day after day… it’s hard.

I’ve been sticking to my plan of not taking any breaks to write sneaky distracting short stories. I admit that I’m toying with the possibility of taking a small break to edit a previously written short story that is set in the world of my novel – so I can submit to an open call.

Lake Quinault Rainforest Writers Retreat

Lake Quinault, 27 February 2016, Rainforest Writers Retreat

In February I got to go to the Rainforest Writer’s retreat, and boost my progress.

I’ll be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo during the month of April, and I’m hoping that will help me keep up my slow but steady pace.

If you are a novel-writer, what was it like to write the first draft of your first novel?

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NaNoWriMo 2015 Conclusion

NaNoWriMo 2015 is over. I ended with a word count of 25,400. So I failed to win NaNoWriMo. But, I’ve got the beginning of a novel so overall that’s a personal win for me.

Once it was clear that I was not going to “win” NaNoWriMo, it was really hard to keep going. To hit the 50,000 word winning target, you have to write 1667 words per day on average. In November my daily word count varied drastically, including seven days when I did not get to write at all. This is how it actually broke down:

Words added to novel vs number of days I hit that word count

Words added to novel vs number of days I hit that word count

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving forward, I’m setting a goal of 500 words per day (average) progress on finishing this novel. I should finish before Camp NaNoWriMo in April.

How did NaNoWriMo go for you?

NaNoWriMo 2015 update, day 15

It’s near the end of day 15, and my word count is 15,000. I have reached the point where I’m so far behind, catching up and making the 50k word goal is impossible. I’m kind of sad about that. But on the other hand, that realization is kind of freeing.

I have learned more lessons about what works for me.

marshmallow1Nov15

Lesson Five: I don’t have to write a chapter or scene in chronological order. My outline is not so detailed that I can jump around a lot. But I often falter at the beginning of scenes, trying to figure out how to start. There is something special about each scene and each chapter that I thought of first when I thought about what was happening at that point in the novel. The thing I’m most excited about writing. Now, I write that part first.

Lesson Six: I struggle to create new words when I’m feeling down, as is the case with a lot of writers I know. But this is NaNoWriMo, so the guilt shouts: I MUST WRITE WORDS anyway. So I tried… Yep, not productive at all. What I learned was that even when I’m not adding words, I can still make some progress. I can be figuring out stuff about my world. Everything from names of minor characters to important world building stuff (geography, economics, flora and fauna, etc.) And even though my word count doesn’t increase much, that little progress helps my state of mind.

Lesson Seven: NaNoWriMo makes the obstacles to writing SO MUCH more frustrating. I could probably double the length of this post by detailing everything beyond my control this month that has punctured my writing space ship and vented my writing time into vacuum. Suffice it to say, the frustration itself sucked the creativity right out of my soul. So I guess my lesson here is to give myself a break. Yes, I’m going to “fail” NaNoWriMo, since I won’t make the goal. On the other hand, I’m still making progress.

15,000 words on day 15 means an average of 1000 words per day. This is a rate that I think I can keep up even after November. The NaNoWriMo web site says “At This Rate You Will Finish On December 20”

I’m okay with that.

NaNoWriMo 2015 update, day 8

Here it is, day 8 of Nanowrimo. To be on target for getting to 50,000 words by November 30th, I should have written 13,333 words by now. I’m at 9000. Catching up is not impossible. Just improbable, for me.

flower_1Nov15

I am learning some valuable lessons about my writing process.

Lesson One: After midnight is not a productive time for me to write. Lots of people begin NaNoWriMo at 12:01am on November 1st. A friend and I decided to do that, even though we’d never tried it before, just because October 31st was on a Saturday this year and we could. At 11:30pm we were both ready for bed. Between 12:01 and 1am I got about 300 words. I definitely won’t be doing that again.

Lesson Two: My outline is extremely helpful. I am so happy I took the time to really think about the story beforehand. I am still changing as I go, but I am much more confident that I won’t write myself into a corner, or that a thousand story-threads won’t burst from one chapter like tiny spiders from an egg sac.

Lesson Three: I started NaNoWriMo intending to prioritize coherent words over abundant words. I knew that would slow down my word count. Today I went to a write-in and worked pretty consistently for four hours, and only wrote 1700 words. I’ve decided that I am okay with not “winning” NaNoWriMo this year. Finishing the first draft of my novel is what I really want to win.

Lesson Four: I am most productive outside of my home, without family and household chores to distract. I really do my best in a coffee shop. I bring headphones and even if someone next to me is having a loud conversation, I’m not bothered.

What have you learned about your writing process from participating in NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo 2015

Oidhche Shamhna shona dhuibh, a h-uile duine! (Happy Halloween night to you, everyone!) It’s October 31st, and that means…

NaNoWriMo novels are like mushrooms that spring up suddenly (or some better metaphor)

NaNoWriMo novels are like mushrooms that spring up suddenly (or some better metaphor)

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo starts at midnight tonight!

In 2011 I hit the 50k word goal, with a pile of words that had little to no hope of becoming a novel.

In 2012 I bailed halfway to write a short story that was eventually published (Green Salvage).

In 2013 I hit the 50k word goal, but my multiple storylines blew up like mushroom clouds. I plan to return to this one at a later time.

I did not attempt a nano novel in 2014.

So, here it is, the eve of NaNoWriMo 2015, and I’m doing it again. This will be the first time I have ever embarked on this challenge knowing in advance that I probably can’t hit the 50k word goal. There will be several days in November when I just won’t be able to write at all.

But I’m going to do it anyway. Because, I love the energy around NaNoWriMo. I enjoy going to local write-ins. I love the excuse to really concentrate on one project. I learn so much about myself as a writer and what works for me and what doesn’t. And this year I’m armed with an actual OUTLINE!

I also plan to post several blogs about my progress.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Why or Why not?

Multitasking and Camp NaNoWriMo

I’m trying to learn how to work on more than one writing project at a time.

Right now I want to be writing the first draft of a novel, whilst at the same time editing my backlog of short stories that are not ready to submit.

One of the reasons I like NaNoWriMo is that the challenging (for me) word count goal of 50,000 words in thirty days makes me stretch myself to figure out what I have to do to achieve it. Plus I have to make creating words the highest priority activity in my life.

Camp NaNoWriMo Badge 2015

But, that isn’t sustainable. So this month I am doing CAMP NaNoWriMo. It’s like nano-light. Less stress because you get to set your own word-count goal for the thirty days of April to anything from 10,000 words on up. I also populated my “cabin” with nine friends for mutual motivation.

After a reality check, I scaled down my goal to a realistic and sustainable 12,000 words for the month of April.  My plan is to continue after Camp NaNoWriMo is over with a goal of adding 2,500 words a week, and finish my novel’s first draft within a year.

In a way that feels like I’ve set my “bar” too low. But this target will leave me time to edit and write short stories at the same time. And because I know that I am motivated by goals and accountability, I’ll be posting my progress on my blog.

Find what works for you and do that.

This is the obligatory after-NaNoWriMo blog post. Sort of. NaNoWriMo ended on December 1, and here I am 28 days later. (But no zombies!)

I did end November with 50,000 words of a first-draft novel written. About half of what I think the final word count will be. So, I “won” Nano, but of course I have a long way to go before I have an actual novel I can shop around.

2013-Winner-Facebook-Profile

For me the biggest win was learning what works for me. To crank out 50,000 words in thirty days means that on average I needed to write 1667 words per day. For authors who write for a living, that’s no big deal. But for me that was a huge stretch, and I learned some valuable lessons.

A standard piece of writing advice is, “Find what works for you and do that.” And just like a lot of advice in general, and writing advice in particular, it’s so simple, and at the same time completely and frustratingly vague.

So here goes, what I learned from NaNoWriMo about what works for me. Your results will vary.

Setting a daily and weekly goal.
I set a goal for the week, taking into account upcoming events and responsibilities. Then I figure out my average daily word count needed to reach that goal. Each week I post my new goal and my success (or lack thereof) for the previous week in a facebook group.

Music.
Until recently, I preferred complete quiet for writing. But around my house, quiet is hard to come by. Also, music with words is extremely distracting to me. So, I bought music from video games – Dragon Age and Halo. I listen when I sit down to write my novel, and when I hear it my brain focuses on the story, and I’m able to ignore background noise wherever I am.

Make the most of non-writing time.
Blocks of uninterrupted time make writing way more productive and satisfying for me. During November there were times when I wanted and needed to write in order to keep up with that crazy 1667 words-per-day goal. But as we all know, there are always unavoidable Things That Must Be Done. I made an effort to take care of business in advance to cut down on interruptions. So for example, I prepared my monthly Slighe nan Gaidheal treasurer report before it was due. While I helped the kids with their homework, I caught up on laundry and other mindless chores. I consciously thought about making the most of my non-writing time to preempt distractions when I did get to sit down and write.

A deer visits my neighbor's yard.

A deer visits my neighbor’s yard.

Also, I learned that worrying-about-not-writing does not help with writing-when-you-finally-can. When I am present in the moment – whether it’s my kids’ birthday party or Thanksgiving dinner or walking with a friend – when I do sit down to write I feel refreshed.

Airplane Mode.
There is some software I’ve heard about called “Freedom” that blocks your computer from accessing the massive distraction that is The Internet. Me, I use Airplane mode on my laptop. I turn on Airplane mode, and bam! No facebook or email or other distractions.

Daydreaming is essential.
I already did a lot of daydreaming. For me it’s sort of like filling the imagination well. But at one point in November I reached the bottom of the well, a point where the story was in a place I hadn’t imagined ahead to. I didn’t know what to write. I had to take a day off from writing just to daydream about the story. So now when I set my writing goals for the week I take daydreaming time into account.

Snow Day! No school.

Snow Day! No school.

So, I “won” NaNoWriMo this year. But more importantly I developed some improved habits and tools.
What writing habits work for you?

Happy Writing.