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 25 2017

Familiar (Five Minute Friday)

By now, you are familiar with the fact that on Fridays, or soon thereafter, I participate in this thing called FiveMinuteFriday.com. Each week,  provides a one-word prompt to write about for 5 little minutes. Sometimes they just flow out of me without much thought. Other times, like tonight, nothing comes to mind and I just don’t know what to write. As a writer, this happens sometimes. Some would call it writer’s block. I’m not sure I believe in writer’s block. In my case, when I can’t think what to write, it is really a case of idea block. Once I get an idea, I can write about it. Sometimes I can’t find much to write, but other times one little spark ignites an entire bonfire of other ideas and I am off and writing.

Writing my novel this month as part of the NaNoWriMo challenge is getting tougher because I am running out of the scenes I had planned to write. I have been adding scenes in along the way as I think of them or find a hole in the plot that needs to be filled. I don’t want to just write stuff for the sake of word count, so no, I will not be adding a dragon to my novel or an unexplained dead body just to boost the word count only to have to cut it all later when future me gets around to editing this novel. I am familiar with the difficulties of editing and future has begged current and past me never to do that to her.

I was on par one day this month, the 12th, I think. I am familiar with the perils of falling behind in my word count, of starting late or slowly, of getting to the 25,000 words stage and questioning everything I have written so far and thinking there is no point in continuing as it is all terrible and no one will ever want to read it. Despite all of these typical doubts and fears, there are only six days left in the month and I still need to write about 11,000 words. I am trying to keep in mind this year that my story needs to be finished which means it needs a beginning, middle, and end. My characters need to grow and change over the course of the novel. I need to get back to writing the novel, but instead, here I am writing this blog post. Really any excuse will do. I don’t feel too bad because I did write 3,000 words today in my novel and these words don’t count toward my monthly NaNo goal. I am familiar with this thing I am doing right now. It is called PROCRASTINATION. Sometimes it comes in the way of writing blog posts like tonight, or doing laundry and loading the dishwasher like yesterday. I know all about it because it used to happen back in college when there was homework to be done. Hubby would catch me cleaning the house and he knew, he was familiar with my tactics. He would ask me what school work I was avoiding by doing housework. Pretty smart that man of mine. Ok, enough of this procrastinating, let’s end this post so I can get back to the novel I should be writing. Stay tuned next week when November ends and see how I did.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Familiar
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.

October 21 2017

Discover (Five Minute Friday)

The word this week is discover. We don’t know what we can do until we try something new. Then we discover hidden talents within ourselves we might never have known existed. I didn’t really know I could be a writer until I attempted and won my first NaNoWriMo in 2013.

I didn’t know I could crochet until I took a class about 25 years ago, and then forgot how to finish the rug project I began in that class. It wasn’t until I got up the nerve to ask my aunt Mary to help me relearn one Thanksgiving that I discovered I could finish the rug. I promptly gave up crocheting again until one day I discovered something called Tarn (T-shirt yarn) and that it could be made of old t-shirts and crocheted into rugs. I knew I could make a rug because I had before so I discovered I had the confidence to find out more and let YouTube help me figure it out. After that second rug, I knew I was in over my head and needed live and in-person help.

So I searched the library website and discovered a group that would help me and met practically right around the corner from my house. I went to the first meeting even though I was scared and nervous. The ladies there were very welcoming and helped me figure out where I had gone wrong and how much I had to take out and redo (most of it). A couple of meetings later they announced they were going to make hats for charity. Not wanting to be left out I agreed to try and they agreed to help me by teaching me to read patterns. The rest as they say, is history because I discovered a new pattern or two online and began making hats. I’ve made a few scarves and even a triangle shawl, but I discovered I really like making the hats the best and from now on that is most likely all I will make.

What have you discovered you can do by trying something new?

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Discover
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.

April 5 2017

Writing with Others

Writing with Others

Do you find yourself having trouble staying on task when you are supposed to be writing? Do you write better in a group where everyone is focused on getting words down during a writing sprint?

Sometimes during NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo, I am able to go to in-person writing events with some of our local writers. These are so helpful and tons of fun. At other times, I find myself unable to attend a local event for one reason or another and missing the chance to do writing sprints with other writers. My solution for that is to go to YouTube and find a Virtual Write-In to watch. I found out about Virtual Write-Ins through NaNoWriMo, so I wanted to share some of their events that are on YouTube and available anytime you want to feel less alone in your writing. Here is the National Novel Writing Month YouTube Channel. They have a playlist of 86 different write-ins that you can watch and write along with. Most of these are about an hour-long, but they have several word sprints in each one so you can always jump ahead to find a longer one. Another perk to using these is that many of them include prompts that might help you get your creative juices flowing.



One of my favorite channels on YouTube to watch year-round is the YA Word Nerds. They do live shows every Sunday evening and have done many write-ins especially during the months of April, July, and November when there are NaNo events going on. You can find their live show playlist below and can scroll through looking for their Virtual Write-Ins. Sometimes they have guests with them like the video shown below with guest Kyra and past WordNerd Calyn.

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