Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

I’m doing NaNoWriMo again.


I forgot to write my customary October 31st “I’m doing NaNoWriMo, so don’t bother me” post for 2016. And of course, I should now be banging away at my 1,667 words for the day, but I’m procrastinating by writing this post instead. Isn’t that how it always goes?

Maybe the delay is for the best though, because it has given me time to realize a mistake on my part. I’ve generally always been a pantster, but I’ve been trying to learn to plot and outline. Of course, I know who to write a flipping outline. I went to school, after all.  But I’ve not really mastered imagining a whole novel in outline form and I think my writing process would be vastly improved and streamlined if this was a skill I could pick up. *sigh* It’s hard, yall.

So, leading up to November 1st, I wrote an outline of events and character descriptions and a breakdown of the world’s magics. I pondered the characters’ motivations and decided what they really want and fear. I picked out my themes and committed myself to ensuring a diverse cast. I felt like I’d done a ton of work. Certainly more than I did when I basically accidentally wrote TWE and undoubtedly anything I write now will be better for it.

As a result, in the past three days I wrote over 17,000 words! Now, I always front load during NaNo, because there are all those initial ideas in my head that I’ve just been waiting for the starting pistol to get down on paper. But 17,000 words rocked. I shocked myself.

Unfortunately, this is where the mistake comes in. 17,000 words brought me to the end of what I’d plotted. Now, of course there is a lot of fleshing out to be done between those scenes, but I thought I had plotted enough scenes to carry me through the writing process, but I’m way, way, WAY short. I mean, it’s a learning experience. I now know I need to be more meticulous in how deeply I plot. But it’s disappointing too.

On the up side, I have 26 days to fix it. And I like my plot this year. I’m writing fantasy—shifters, magic, DRAGONS. Oh my. I think I’ll make it. Hitting the word count has never really been the challenge for me. I could rattle off 50,000 words to the barista in an attempt to order coffee. I’m long winded on my most concise days. But I want more than a Nano ‘win.’ I want a finished piece of work and that is where I struggle.

By means of encouragement and accountability (which is a large part of why I always write a blog post when I do Nano) I am allowing myself to buy a Kindle Fire when I submit my word count at the end of the month. I have a Kindle e-reader that I love, but having a tablet would give me access to some things my Voyage doesn’t, like Hoopla through my local library. A reward is something I always give myself after NaNo and I see no reason to change that now. (You know, other than being broke, but I’m ignoring that. Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. See how that works?)

So, here’s to all you crazy, crazy kids out there trying to write a novel in a month. I’m right there with you.

You should be writing

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo 2015


All right, I’m not a complete NaNo newbie anymore! Ok, I’m still pretty new to National Writing Month, but I did it last year and survived, so I don’t feel like a total boot. And this fact makes itself known when I think of how much writing prep I did last year compared to this year.

I don’t mean research or plotting or outlining. I did way more of that Nano Prep Researchthis year than last year. But last year I was so stressed about my word count that I had tunnel vision. I bought myself a new mole skin and dandy pen. I picked out word count rewards. I scouted my out-of-the-house writing spot. I scoured the NaNoWriMo website, the Facebook page, the Pinterest page, the Twitter page, the Goodreads forums. I spent most of the latter half of October setting myself up to hit my word count.

This year? Not so much. I mean, ok, some of the reason is that the NaNoWriMo website hasn’t changed much and the forums are in the same place, so I don’t need to do all that again. But another part of it is that I’m confident I can hit a 50k mark in a way I wasn’t last year, so I can concentrate on WHAT I’ll be writing instead of HOW MUCH I’ll be writing. And I’m excited about this in a way I didn’t allow myself to be last year.

o-YOGA-JOES-570So, what am I writing this year? I’m branching way outside my comfort zone. I’m writing a contemporary romance of sorts, between a wounded Afghanistan war veteran and a FTM transgendered Trauma Sensitive yoga instructor.

This is outside my comfort zone for a couple reasons, One, I tend to gravitate toward writing fantasy, so a contemporary setting is new for me. Plus, I’ve never written a romance. And lastly, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, I’m deathly afraid of getting my transgendered representation wrong. But I have what I think is a pretty strong outline, so I am soldiering on. (If anyone is able and willing to beta this aspect of the book, on completion, I would love you forever.)

*Deep breath* In three days I’ll start my second NaNo round. I feel as ready as I can be. I’m going to try and hit more of the real-life, in person write-ins than I did last year. But most are at 6pm, which is a hard time for me to arrange. (That’s an excuse, but it’s also true.) But if anyone is in the Saint Louis area and interested in connecting. I’m Saussy on the buddy list. Feel free to drop me a line. We can commiserate together, or encourage on another, or whatever.

It probably goes without saying, but for those seeking review…not in November.

NaNoWriMo update…I won!


Yesterday afternoon, around 2pm, I passed 50,000 words in my current NaNo novel. There was no dancing involved, though it would have been well deserved. I was halfway through a scene that I calmly remained seated to get down, finally stopping at a respectable 50,540 words. That also gave me a nice little buffer, in case there was a discrepancy between my Scrivner word count and the NaNo word count validator.

This was the first time I’d done NaNo and I came into it completely intimidated. If you estimate 250 words to a page, it’s roughly 200 pages…in a month! And I did it in 20 day! (Yeah, that deserves a second exclamation point, even if I’m usually stingy with them.) I really surprised myself. Not only because I made it to 50k, but because this is what my graph looks like throughout the month.

my graphNice and steady, no peaks, no valleys, no gaps; I set a target of 1,700 words a day and I hit it, every damn day. That makes me all fluttery inside.

And I’ve rewarded myself too. I’m going to have an exciting mail week. I ordered myself this beautiful wooden bookmark and this pair of comfy, loungy pants. That’s important, since I do most of my writing sitting cross-legged on the couch. Jellyfish bookmark

Mum pantsOf course, 50,000 unedited words is only about half a novel, so I’ve thought ahead and picked out what my 100,000 word rewards will be. *claps excitedly.* When that day comes, I’ll allow myself the following:

Wooden ruler Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 08.02.09

Yes, that is a beautiful wooden ruler (I’m a sucker for all things hand-crafted and wooden.) and a Dune-inspired bracelet. And if I’m really honest, I’ll admit the hour or so cruising Etsy to pick it all out was a reward of sorts too.

As excited as I am about goodies, completing this challenge wasn’t really about the things I would let myself spend my meagre income on. In a very real way, it also wasn’t about writing any particular book.

It was about writing in general. Writing is something I enjoy, torturous as it often is. But I’d fallen out of habit. I’d let myself become the classic ‘one day writer.’ That well-intentioned, but ultimately unfocused author who recognises the plot bunnies as they frolic through her mind, but never actually sits down and writes. Rather, I always intended to do it one day.

Doing NaNo this year was about making today the day, and then tomorrow and the next. It was about once again establishing the habit of ssandcastlesitting down and putting words on paper, even if they’re crap. I spent a lot of time reminding myself of this during the last three weeks. And I expect once I’ve reached my 100k, the first thing I’ll do is reread it all and cut a third. But better that than having nothing at all.

This is especially true for my current work. I really think it needs to be written. Unfortunately, I also kind of wish the muse had passed it on to someone a little more experienced and given me a quick bit of monster-erotica or something. This is hard.

It’s the first time I’ve written anything that isn’t wholly fantasy, meaning I can’t just make it up as I go. Plus, I’m dealing with some heavy and probably controversial issues, while trying to respectfully address cultural practices that are largely foreign and frightening to Americans. I have suddenly become painfully aware of my own Western gaze and how much of what we take for granted as givens, in fact aren’t for a lot of the world.

And the one thing I don’t want to be accused of at the end of this is Recognizing-Unconscious-Bias-The-Impact-of-Identity-on-Behavior-300x300presenting Western mores as universals, when they patently aren’t. But this means teasing out which of my own closely held beliefs are culturally specific, which ones I learned so early and so slowly that I never noticed. This is not easy and it’s uncomfortable. But it’s necessary and both my book and I will be better for it.  *sigh*

But I digress. My point is that this work would be especially easy to continue to put off, because, for me, it has a lot of added challenges. I’m absolutely convinced that if I hadn’t started it as a NaNo project, with the ridged structure necessary to hit 50,000 words in a month, I would still be tiptoeing around the idea of eventually writing it. Now I’m halfway through a rough first draft…and feeling like a total badass.

So, though I don’t have a complete work in my hands at the end of this experience, I have some things I consider even more valuable. I have a reinvigorated dedication to my writing. I have a project that is well enough on its way to feel real and accomplishable. I have my passion back. For these things, I’ll thank NaNoWriMo and imagine this won’t be the last time I sign up.