November 30 2017

NaNoWriMo Wrap-up

I have come a long way as a writer in the last four years. I have finally become a year-round writer. (As of this month I have written over 113,000 words so far this year!) I am not afraid to call myself a writer. I have put in the work and time and, though I may not have a book published yet, I AM a writer. I have 5 NaNo wins under my belt to prove it (to myself if nothing else).

My motivation for the month was a printout of the image below. This is my 2014 NaNoWriMo progress graph, also the first year I attempted to write fiction. As you can see I got off to a super slow start because I had no idea HOW to write fiction and I just plain had NO IDEA for a plot of any sort. I seriously doubted I could ever catch up once I got started and then around the 25k mark, I began to question whether I had a workable plot at all (I really didn’t), so I didn’t write anything for a few days. Seeing this graph and how I beat the odds, no matter how badly they were stacked against me, kept me going this month. My present-self would like to take this opportunity to thank my 2014-self for sticking it out and winning because if I hadn’t done it back then, I’m not sure I would have believed I could do it this year.

This year was vastly different than the others. I was calmer through the entire month, and I kept thinking how strange it was that I wasn’t freaking out about being behind. Maybe it has to do with being FEARLESS this year. Maybe it is because four years of history have helped me realize there is no need to panic because it IS doable.

So, in case there was any doubt, here is how I did THIS year.

I did not meet my personal goal of finishing the entire first draft of this novel. I kind of stop expecting to do that after the slow start and the lack of planning during Prep-Tober. I feel like this novel was the closest I have ever been to writing a complete story arc in a first draft. I don’t hate the novel yet and may try to finish plotting it out and writing the other thirty to fifty thousand words it will need to be a true novel length draft. I think I might be able to manage that, maybe even by the end of the year, but we will see.

If you have never tried writing 50,000 words in a month, I highly recommend giving it a try. Winning gives the feeling of accomplishment we all crave and it makes you feel like you can accomplish anything you set out to do. You also get cool swag like the graphic below!

November 17 2017

Excuse (Five Minute Friday)

Happy Friday! I know you are all plenty sick and tired of me talking about NaNoWriMo, but it is November and if you know anything about me, you will know this is my 5th year straight writing for the 50,000 word challenge in 30 days, it is what I do and that is my excuse. Hey, it is fun. Really, it is a blast! It is probably the hardest thing I do all year, but the most satisfying too. If you read my most recent blog post, you know all about how I was sick at the beginning of the month and how it took me until day 12 to catch up to where I was supposed to be. You also know I fell behind again right away. I am still behind. I could use any of those things as an excuse to quit. I could also use the fact that I’m not sure if I really have a clue how to plot or plan a fiction novel much less write one as an excuse and it would be a valid one. I could say it is too hard, I don’t know what to write, my story has taken itself in a different direction than I planned, my characters are not behaving themselves, they keep doing things I don’t understand and didn’t expect. Again, all true and all valid excuses. But I am not a quitter. I signed up for the challenge and I will win it. I have started lots of novels but never finished one. This is supposed to be the year I not only “win” the challenge, but also finish the novel during the month of November (I say that every year). I may not get that far, but somehow I WILL manage to write the 50,000 (or more) words before the month ends.

While I make excuses for so many things every day, there is no excuse for me not winning. Yes, I work full-time outside the home at a job during which I cannot write my novel. This month I have been working much longer days than usual and battled being sick for several days. Those excuses won’t cut it. I will spend every free, waking minute writing if I have to, but I will not make excuses for why I failed to get the writing done.

I am here to tell you that if I can win this challenge and write 50,000 words in 30 days while working full time and all those other valid excuses, then YOU can do things you probably don’t really think you can do too. In November 2013, when I “won” my first NaNoWriMo just before Thanksgiving, I felt like a million bucks. I was so proud of myself. I had so much confidence. I felt like I could do anything. I had just written more than I had probably written in my whole life combined. I had put my introverted self out there and gone to strange places I had never been before to write with strange people I had never met before. I found out that other people in my state, my city, my neighborhood are writers, I was not the only one who wanted to write a novel, but I am to only one who can write the novel I am currently writing. I am a winner. I AM a writer. I am not afraid of so many things I used to be afraid of because if I set my mind to it, I CAN DO ANYTHING! Mom always said it, but I never really believed her until November 2013.

So if you can’t find me and it is November, I am somewhere writing like my life depends on it, because the feeling I am supposed to write a book just won’t go away. God put it on my heart for a reason and it is my job to do everything within my power to figure out how to do it, learn everything I can and keep trying until the feeling goes away, I get it done, or I die trying. No excuses!

What could you accomplish if you stopped making excuse and got busy trying to get it done? I believe YOU can do anything if you set your mind to it. If you want to bad enough. If you quit making excuses.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Excuse
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

November 16 2017

NaNoWriMo Progress Report

I started this as a Prep-Tober post, but then got sick near the end of October and into November with a terrible sore throat that turned into a cold. I was working 11 hours or more a day all week too. Not at all the way things were supposed to go, so on top of being sick, I felt bad that I hadn’t gotten as much planning done as I would have liked.

I missed the NaNoWeen celebration and this is always a huge boost to my word count just after midnight, but I was having trouble justifying going to an event that started at 11pm and ended at 3 am on a work night, so maybe it was just as well that I was sick.

I spent most of my reading time in September and October reading books on the craft of writing. I keep a recommended books page in my bullet journal that I can list books on when I hear about them and think I might want to read it later. Then when I am looking for something to read I search the library website and end up requesting a few to be put on hold for me. The problem with that (and it really isn’t a problem) is that often the books come in at the same time. I recently had seven books all about the writing craft come in on hold the same day. Sometimes, I will wait a couple of hours and then renew all of them to see which will be denied the renewal and then this is the book I will read first. It really is difficult to choose and most of the time I will have them on my library shelf until the library demands I bring them back because another patron is waiting to read them. Fair enough.

I tend to read a lot of books about plotting and story structure because that is where I feel the weakest currently.

Here are some of the ones I am working my way through now:

GMC: goal, motivation, and conflict: the building blocks of good fiction by Debra Dixon (The library insisted I return this since I had their only copy and someone else apparently requested it.)

Shut up & write! by Judy Bridges

So how am I doing on NaNoWriMo?

Here are my word counts by day:

Day 1: 0
Day 2: 0
Day 3: 710
Day 4: 1,111 (went to a 3-hour write-in)
Day 5: 1,762
Day 6: 2,174 (finally feeling better, but worked late)
Day 7: 2,219
Day 8: 2,971
Day 9: 2,249
Day 10: 2,070
Day 11: 2,224
Day 12: 2,614 (I finally got caught up!)
Day 13: 1,173 (trouble staying motivated)
Day 14: 1,274 (just plain tired, still behind)
Day 15: 1,686
____________________________________
Total So Far: 24,237 (should have 25,005)
Just 768 words behind where I should be.

I got off to such a slow start and was doing well consistently writing over 2,000 words a day for seven days to finally get to the word count I was supposed to have. Then I hit a slump and went below the goal of 1,667 per day and got myself slightly behind again. Don’t worry I am not giving up, just hitting the saggy middle at 20,000 words. It happens somewhere about then every year. I will get over it and write extra on the weekends if I have to.

How do you get ready for NaNoWriMo? How is your word count?

If you still need some help to stay focused but can’t go to a live write-in near you, try some of these virtual write-ins to help you stay focused. They all contain several timed writing sprints. I find these especially helpful when I keep getting sidetracked by other things instead of writing like I should be. I keep adding more to that playlist, so you may want to save the playlist to watch later by clicking the little clock in the upper right corner of the video screen shown below.

I embedded it below, so feel free to just come back here as often as you need to.

Don’t quit! I know you want to give up, but your future self will be very disappointed in you if you do. But if you stick with it right until the very end and give it your best effort, I promise your future self will be so proud of you and so will I.

November 10 2017

Silence (Five Minute Friday)

Silence is not a word most would use to describe me. I tend to talk to perfect strangers while waiting in line, make comments out loud to nobody in particular or share my unsolicited opinion on things. I can’t help it, it just happens. I just realized it sounds like I am describing a person with serious mental health issues. Hmmm, not sure how I feel about that.

Inside my head, there is not much silence either. I seem to hear negative feedback on my life in general, my writing, etc from what we will call my “inner editor” because “the voices in my head” sounds so much scarier. When I write, my inner editor gets diarrhea of the mouth and just won’t shut up. The constant barrage of negative comments I hear could stifle even the most creative person. Enter NaNoWriMo. If you want/need to write like I do, silencing the inner editor at least for short periods of time is crucial. Writing a fast draft of a novel in November helps me to stay focused on the task at hand while silencing the inner editor who would otherwise try to derail my efforts.

In order to meet the goal of writing 50,000 words in the 30 days of November while working full-time and trying to keep food in the house and laundry done, I must stay focused on keeping my butt in the chair and writing until my goal is met for the day. If I listened to my inner editor, I would constantly be revising the first sentence or paragraph instead of moving on to the next. I would end up with a very polished paragraph, sentence or even first page. That just won’t do! The whole idea is to get the words down so you will have something to edit later, like in December or January.
So, this short break from writing my NaNoWriMo novel for this month was brought to you by the word silence. Did you hear that inner editor? No? Then good, the silence has done its job. Now back to my regularly scheduled November writing plans. Until next time!

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Silence
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

November 3 2017

Need (Five Minute Friday)

What do I NEED? I need to get over this week-old cold and get back to some semblance of healthy again.

I need to be writing. It is November, after all. In November, more so than any other time of the year, I write. Not only do I write, but I write a lot. More than 50,000 words on a novel to be exact. That should be easy to figure out if you’ve been here before, but in case you still have no idea at all what I am blathering on about, it is NaNoWriMo!
NaNoWriMo officially started three days ago, but instead of writing I was working very long days and suffering from this darned cold. In case you can’t tell by the fact that I am writing this post on Friday for FiveMinuteFriday.com, which means I am writing it now, I am feeling marginally more human than any other day so far this week, so I am warming up my writing brain and getting ready to start my novel. In order to catch up to where I should be today, I only need to write 5,001 words before midnight. Not an impossible task to be sure, but an improbable one at least for today, because while I am feeling somewhat better, I am not quite up to that task yet.

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