The NaNoWriMo Finale

I’ve been busy the last few days, recuperating from all this novel writing. I’ve been going Christmas shopping, spending long hours with friends, going on walks, and sleeping. A lot of sleeping.

But I’m so happy to say that all this R&R is well-earned. A few hours before the 12:00am deadline on Dec. 1, I clocked in 50,385 words for my novel, making the whole thing now total 87,632 words! It’s still not done unfortunately, and I already see where a loooot of rewriting needs to happen, but I’m proud of what I achieved this month.

Even better, this word count doesn’t include the updates and book reviews I wrote for this blog nor a chapter of fanfic that I wrote this month, so my monthly word count is probably closer to 60,000. How awesome is that?

This marks the first time I’ve ever “won” NaNo, and I’m a mixture of impressed, relieved, and perplexed at myself. All this writing potential and I’ve never tapped into it like this! [Owen Wilson voice ]Wow!

I remember how in the past writing 1,000 words a day seemed so daunting and impossible to do consistently, but I just did so much more than that for the entire month. Now, I’m excited to embrace this daily writing habit. I’m even writing this article now despite the fact that I told myself I’d chill for a week, reading but not writing, but I had to write something! Even tomorrow, I’ll be eyeing a few other stories I’ve been neglecting, debating what I’ll write for first.

I do wish that I could have gone to an in-person write-in to meet other writers, but a local one that I was available to go to got canceled and then all my Saturdays filled up quickly with other matters. But I had a lot of fun with the virtual write-ins I joined, both NaNo’s and the ones I was doing with my best friend Jennifer through our podcast, Femme Trash. Sometimes we even had a special guest — Ariel from Within Walking Distance!

I’ve been thinking about doing Camp NaNoWriMo when it rolls around because I really want to finish my current project so that next November, I will be tackling a brand new story with brand new characters. Wouldn’t that be ideal?

How did you guys do? I hope you know that I’m super proud of you for everything you’ve done this month, and you should be proud of yourself, too, for being brave enough to tell your story.

NaNoWriMo: Week 3 Update

Is it already week three? Wow! I’m even getting later with writing these updates.

As it turns out, my preparations earlier this month with the whole “write 2,000 words a day” have borne fruit. I’ve been able to maintain par with NaNo’s recommended word count, and I haven’t had to write as much to do it. And I haven’t been writing as much lately, truth be told. I haven’t quite burned out yet, but the words have been harder to come, the plot harder to conceptualize, and I’ve had to force myself to write before I do x thing. (Reward systems really do go a long way.)

On Day 21, I had 35,782 words, just a little over the recommended word count of 35,000. And hey, I’ll take it! My current total is 36,950, and I haven’t been able to write today yet due to Thanksgiving shenanigans, but family has now left and the rest of the night is free. I actually get more energized if I think less in terms of how much I’ve written and more in terms of how many words I have to go (13,050!).

Currently, I have no idea where the plot of my novel is going. I know where I want it to go, but this word count challenge has allowed it to take many surprising turns and I’m using characters in ways I didn’t expect. I’m starting to see what works and what doesn’t in terms of pacing and side plots, but I don’t think I’ll get the full picture until the novel is finished and I go back for rewrites.

I’ve been trying to do some write-ins and word sprints when I can, but so far I haven’t done any this week. Hope to change that by the weekend. I hope also to solve a sort of writer’s flaw that I’ve noticed in myself. I tend to write scenes that only focus on two characters at a time, no more than that. Am I scared of writing more characters in a scene? Do I have some sort of fear that I can’t juggle them all, or am I just thinking too small? I think for my next week, I’m going to try to do more scenes involving larger groups of characters.

How are you guys doing? Have you noticed any tendencies you have that you want to improve? What are you excelling at?

We’re in the home stretch, y’all! Keep going!

NaNoWriMo: Week 2 Update

Hoo boy, I’m a little late with this, but that’s okay!

How’s everyone doing on week two, going into week three? I’ve managed 28,528 words for the month so far (65,631 words total for the overall project), so I’m about on par for where I need to be for today, November 17th. I’m actually about to sit down and try to get a lot of words on the page to make up for lost time.

Truth is, I slacked off a little bit this week, for a few reasons. By trying to reach the 2,000 word count every day, I felt myself approaching burnout, so I pulled back to save myself later pain. I also got a little sleep deprived here and there, and instead of forcing the writing to come, I elected to get rest which was usually a great choice because the next day, I got in double my word count. The third thing for not writing as much as I wanted is that I got myself addicted to a book series and spent a lot more time reading that than writing. (Oops, but not really. I’ve been having fun.)

But I’m still on track, and I’ve got a whole weekend to get words onto the page. Once again, word sprints and setting time limits and word count goals for myself has helped me immensely. Jennifer and I finished our last recorded word sprint for Femme Trash this week, but we have more planned for this month and the future off-record. Super excited for those!

So far I’ve been struggling a lot with timing. Should this be described there? Should this character say this now or wait? Am I introducing this plot point in the right place? Is it too soon or too late? Are these side plots really necessary, or are they cluttering the work? Should this really be written as a duology as originally planned, or should it be a stand-alone, and if so, where should it end? What do I need to keep and what needs to be rewritten or sacrificed altogether to make it work?

I’m not trying to answer those questions now. They’ve just been batting around in my head as I go. I’m hoping things will get clearer once I actually approach the end of the novel, if not at the end of NaNoWriMo. The revision phase is something I’m greatly looking forward to, and each day I find myself a little closer to it, the more giddy I get.

What have you guys been struggling with? What’s something in your novel that you’ve been looking forward to the most?

NaNoWriMo: Week 1 Update

Well, technically it’s a week and one day update, but I haven’t caught up with my word count today, on day eight, so it doesn’t count. (That’s actually what I’m about to do.)

So where am I at right now? Even though I’m looking at my current word count on the NaNo website, I can hardly believe it: 16,352 words in seven days!

I’ll admit. I have written more in one sitting before, but this isn’t about cranking out words one day and then slacking off the next six. NaNo’s about establishing writing habits. It’s about training yourself to write a little every day, and I’m actually doing it. And you know, it’s been really fun and rewarding–and of course, challenging!

The goal I’ve set for myself is to write 2,000 words a day. That way I stay ahead of NaNo’s recommended word count to finish on time (1,667), giving me room to breathe once I start to reach burn-out stage. (I know the later in November it gets, the less useful and productive I’ll be. Plus, the holidays always take a huge chunk of time away from us all.)

With the exception of one day, I’ve met that 2,000 word goal, sometimes even went beyond it. Last night, I wasn’t so lucky, but I did achieve a little over the 1,667 goal, so I stayed on par.

It may seem like I’m bragging, but I don’t mean to be. I simply can’t believe I’m staying on target like I have been doing (last year, I didn’t do so hot). And it’s all been for one project! I haven’t once ran out of ideas and had to jump to writing for something else; in fact, I’ve sat down quite a few times without a clear clue of what I’m writing next, only for the words and ideas to come as I wade into the proverbial writing waters.

So how have I managed to be productive so far? Well, I owe it to a few things:

  • I gave up social media for the entire month. No Tumblr, Twitter, or any of those sites that are just huge, unproductive time sucks.
  • I replaced those social media sites with reading. Seriously, when I’m not writing or at work, I’m usually reading some books in my to-read pile, and I’m learning what writing to immolate and what problems to avoid. Doing so has helped immensely in keeping the creativity sparking.
  • I’ve co-hosted and attended virtual write-ins. These have been invaluable to me because they cut out time specifically for writing, and the word sprints themselves have inspired ideas that I couldn’t think of on my own–because they came from other people. It’s a truly collaborative and supportive effort. Plus, that internal editor has to shut the hell up, and that’s always a plus when it’s rough draft time.
  • I’ve got people I’m writing with, both in person and on the internet. Sure, we’ve all got our own stories and pitfalls we’re working through, but we all help each other when we’re struggling. It could be a simple text that encourages you to keep going or diving into an in-depth discussion about character creation. Every little bit has helped.
  • I’ve gotten out of my house and written in different locations. The library and local coffee shops (yeah, it’s Starbucks, I admit it) have been my go-tos. I pull up my document, plug in my headphones, and ignore everything else for a few hours. (Alternative music has been great background noise.)

Starbucks is actually where I’m at now, and I’m writing this to prep myself for my next writing bout. Speaking of which, I should probably wrap this up if I want to reach that 2,000 word goal, but I’ve set a time limit on myself. I’ve got until they close in an hour and forty-five minutes. Hhhh, okay. Let’s do this. Wish me luck!

How have you guys been doing? Thriving, I hope, but if not, I hope something in my words here can encourage you to keep at it. No one can write your story like you can, after all, and every word gets you one step closer.

Till next week!

NaNoWriMo Day 5 – Word Sprints

I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned it on here, but I co-host a podcast with my best friend Jennifer called Femme Trash. Normally, we talk about all the movies, books, shows, and other pop culture things we’ve been consuming lately, but for the month of November, we’ve chosen to focus solely on writing, word sprints in particular.

What is a word sprint? It’s where you set a timer and you write, write, write as fast as you can, aiming to get in as many words as possible before the timer runs out. It can be for five minutes to up to thirty, and you can have fun prompts to inspire creativity such as, “Try to include the word ‘petrichor’ somewhere,” or “Create a character that has a secret they don’t want anyone else to find out about.”

At first I had my doubts about them because I’m the kind of writer that likes to sit down and write in a huge burst, and it’s usually an all-day affair. But I’ve been converted. Word sprints are amazing for turning off your internal editor and focusing on getting your ideas onto the page. They can make getting in your daily word count goal much easier because they break your writing time into chunks, which keeps your brain fresh.

Whether you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo or not, you should give it a try. All month long, Femme Trash will be hosting different writing sprints of varying times and prompts, so tune in by yourself or with friends to compete for the most words. Let the ideas do a conga line onto the page, and don’t hesitate to let us know your triumphs and struggles. You can do it!


NaNoWriMo 2017

It’s that time again.

I’m actually sitting at home, in the final hours of Halloween, an iced chai tea latte sitting on the couch beside me, trying to apply the brakes on the passage of time because I’m not ready. But I’ll have to be.

This is my fourth year doing NaNo, and I’m hoping to finish the novel I’ve been working on for three years. I’ve never achieved the 50,000 word count in a month before, but I still love what I accomplish during every attempt. Even managing a couple pages is better than a blank page.

For this year especially, I want to be more “out of my comfort zone.” In other words, not just writing at home or whenever I can squeeze a few words in during a work break. I plan to visit my city’s library as well as attend some write-in sessions at my local Books-A-Million on Saturdays. I figure a change in atmosphere can help my creativity and allow me to focus. Where are some of your favorite places to write?

If you’re doing NaNo this year, I’d love to hear from you about what you hope to accomplish this year and root for you. My best friend Jennifer and I are actually going to be hosting some writing sprint sessions on our podcast, Femme Trash, all this month if you need a boost. The first one is going up this Sunday, Nov. 5.

In the meantime, I’ve scheduled some book reviews to go up during the month, so I can focus more on NaNo. Gotta prioritize, after all.

Wishing us all the best of luck this NaNo. You’re gonna be amazing!