I joined NaNoWriMo in October 2008 because that’s when Kris discovered it and told me all about it. I skipped that year, though.
I didn’t feel as though I’d prepared enough to write a novel when I had only just found out about the challenge a week before it started. So, I hung around on the website all month long lurking in the forums and getting to know the community.
It wasn’t until November 2009 that I decided to give NaNo a real shot.
I wrote a novel called The Others. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken of this story on my blog since I started blogging in May 2012 and by that time The Others was already a memory.
I remember planning as best as I could the October before. However, at this point, I had never actually completed a first draft of a novel before. I didn’t even know how outlining worked best for me, so I didn’t have my system all worked out just yet.
But I did it! I wrote 50,000 words that November on The Others. The only downside to it was that I had no idea you needed to validate your word count.
So, when November 30th came and went, I was disappointed to see that I had no certificate. Kris asked if I validated my novel and I believe I responded with, “What does that mean?”
I won, but it’s just not official. You have to take my word for it. I wrote 50,000 words, but I never completed the novel. There was a lot more to it.
The Others was an interesting story, from what I can remember about it. There have been novels about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), or Multiple Personality Disorder, and I thought I would write one with a twist.
Those kinds of stories are always told from someone else or the main personality as they try to figure out what’s going on. The Others was told by the various personalities inside the protagonist’s mind.
I promise is sounded much better than how I’m explaining it right now. I remember the basic gist of the story, but I can’t remember too much else about it. Other than the fact that the main character’s name was November… very original.
I don’t have the novel anymore. This was a time when my desk was in the basement of my house and I only saved my stories onto my flash drive.
In January 2012 (I think) my flash drive died. I lost a lot of novels and I was devastated.
Though, now that I think about it, the flash drive might have died in January 2013 because I vaguely remember talking about it on the blog… I don’t know.
Either way, that’s why I have Google Drive, Dropbox, and my flash drive now (except now my USB ports on my laptop don’t work anymore, so my novels are kind of stuck in my flash drive until I get a new laptop).
Maybe I’ll go back and try to write The Others again, maybe I won’t. It was a fun idea to explore and maybe someday I’ll expand on it. But it won’t be anytime soon.
What did you write for your first NaNoWriMo? Do you still have it or did you stop working on it after NaNo? Let me know in the comments!
So, the second week of NaNo is over. That was a thing and it happened.
Week Two Total: 27,500
Overall Total: 44,268 (19,268 words ahead of schedule)
I kept up my streak of writing 2,000 words a day. Week two is usually the toughest because of the “slump,” but I was lucky and actually had three days off from work. I was able to get in a little extra writing done on each day.
On the 10th, I had the house to myself and no work so I challenged myself to write 10k that day. And I met my goal! That extra boost of words have helped because I’ll reach 50k a lot sooner than I originally thought.
I have 14 short stories left to write, which mean I’ve written 38. When I first started this I thought each story would be about 1,000 words so I would end up writing 52,000 words during the month. A handful of stories turned out to be about 2,000 words long while others were about 500 words.
This isn’t a big deal, but if I stuck with my 1,000-word rule, I’d have about 8 stories left to write as opposed to 14. In other words, my Short Story Sundays for next year will be well over 52,000 words. I wonder how much of it I’ll get done by the end of the month?
I think I’m starting to slow down a bit… Especially after that 10k day I think my mind is screaming at me. But I’ve been staying strong! Writing has continued to go pretty smoothly.
I would like to finish all 52 stories by the end of the month if I can. However, keeping up the 2k a day, I’ll reach 50,000 words on this Friday, the 18th. I still want to write a little bit every day for the rest of the month, but I’m not going to force myself to write 2,000 words every day if I don’t have the time or just don’t feel like it.
I want to keep the routine and hopefully finish the 52 stories, but it won’t be as big of a priority. I’m usually pretty good at balancing NaNo and life, but this month has been so crazy compared to past Novembers. I’ve had a lot of family events happen so balancing that with NaNo and then everything else. (Like blogging… I’ve neglected all my fellow bloggers and totally ignored everyone’s posts this month… sorry, guys!)
How is NaNoWriMo treating you? Are you enjoying your writing project so far? Let me know in the comments!
I’m sure most of you know by now that I’m writing short stories for NaNoWriMo this year.
I tend to write whatever I want during the Camp months because they’re more flexible, but I like to stick to the “rules” of writing 50,000 words of a brand new novel in November.
I tried to write short stories last year for November and it didn’t go over that well. I can’t remember if I won or not, but I don’t think I did. It was hard and I said, “Well, I tried something different. Next year I’ll stick to my novels.”
So why did I change my mind?
It’s not that I changed my mind, I just had completely forgotten I told myself to stick to novels during November until just the other day.
I decided to write short stories this year for a number of reasons…
1. Short stories are “easier”
Short stories are not easy to write, but I think writing a novel is harder. Some people may agree or disagree with me and that’s fine. But short stories are smaller in the word count and there’s not as much planning as a novel. Sure, it’s difficult to wrap up a conflict in a short amount of pages, but overall I think it’s “easier” than writing a novel.
2. To get ahead for 2017
I’ve been trying to plan ahead for my blogs for 2017. There’s a lot that I want to do and the only way I’m going to get it all done is if I can get some things done right now. If I don’t have to worry about taking the time to sit and write a few thousand words every so often, that would be a huge weight off my shoulders. Any writing time can be spent working on my novels next year.
3. New novel ideas
The short stories I’ve written so far (I have January through May completely done and the other months are half done) vary in genre. I’ve written mystery, mainstream, memoir, poetry, and fantasy. I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with the different genres. It’s great practice and the best part is I think I’ll be turning some of those short stories into novels someday. One story in particular (I think it’s a July short) I already have mostly planned out for a novel.
4. To submit to contests and magazines
I’ve been getting serious with submitting my work lately. I’ve submitted to magazines and a few contests at least once a month since August. I currently have two short stories out in the world that I’m waiting to hear back. I hope to keep that trend up and hope that something comes from it. I’ve written a few shorts so far that I think will be worthy of magazines some day in the near future.
Here’s a reason as to why I love writing short stories for NaNo: I don’t get burned out as easily.
Last Thursday I attempted to write 10,000 words and I ended up with 10,095 (I was pretty tired afterwards). I don’t remember how many shorts I wrote (most are about 1,000 words, but some are as long as 2,000 and as short as 500), but after every break I went back to writing something completely brand new.
There was no thinking, “Where do I go from here?” or, “What should my characters do next?” I just grabbed a prompt and went with it.
My word count is currently at 40,000 words. I have 10,000 more to go. I wanted to finish by Thanksgiving, but if I keep my 2,000 words a day trend up, I’ll reach 50,000 words on Friday the 18th.
And let me tell you, it’s been a wonderful thing.
Have you ever tried to write something else other than a novel during NaNo? How did it go? How is NaNo going for you this year? Let me know in the comments!
I got lucky with a few days off from work. I had the day of the election off, I have Veteran’s Day off, then there’s Thanksgiving.
Today is a normal day, but it’s professional development for the teachers. Since I’m an aide, that means I have the day off.
Everyone in my family still has work and school so it’ll just be me and the animals. I have no obligations, no deadlines, nothing.
So, I’ve decided, I’m going to challenge myself to write 10,000 words today, Thursday, November 10.
(I just realized that I’ll be writing 10k on the 10th. I hope that’s a good sign!)
Of course, I won’t be sitting at my computer for five hours straight writing. I’m going to take breaks here and there.
My daily goal is 2,000 words. In between every 2,000 words, I’ll take an hour break. I can write 2,000 words in one hour if I focus hard enough so maybe tomorrow I’ll end up writing every other hour. We’ll see if Chip and Chase allow me to write for that long!
I’ve attempted to write 10k in one day twice before. The first time I tried it, I quit after a few thousand. I think I made it to at least 5,000 though. The second time I did it, I got 10k. I think I wrote every other hour and that’s what helped me stay on task.
I don’t know if I’ll have enough juice in me to write 10k today, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway!
I’ll be updating my progress on Twitter, so be sure to follow along.
Also, if you have no other obligations today, feel free to join me! The more, the merrier!
Have you ever attempted 10k in a day before? Did you reach your goal? Let me know in the comments!
November is usually a busy month. Aside from NaNoWriMo, there are family events, the holidays, and other happenings going on. For some reason, though, this year November has been the busiest.
My weekends have been booked with family events. My nephew was Baptized, my sister is hosting a party at my house, I have two events going on at my church that I have to be a part of and help prepare for, and there’s Thanksgiving at the end of the month. There’s also work, babysitting, and trying to find time to hang out with friends and relaxing.
I’m expected to write 50,000 words on top of that? Well, then.
How do you find the time to get your writing done each and every day?
For me, I know that I work best in the morning. I leave for work at 7:40, though. If I have to get ready for work, eat breakfast, and try to do some other things, I can’t wake up at 6:45 and expect myself to be ready to go in an hour like some people do.
I get up at 5:30 in the morning. I get dressed, get my coffee, and then I sit at my computer and write from 5:45 to 6:45/7:00. Then I get everything else done I need to get done in the half hour before I need to go to work.
I can write about 2,000 words in an hour, if I focus hard enough. So, most mornings I’m able to reach my daily word count before going to work. As long as I can reach 1,667 words, I’m good for the rest of the day.
It makes me feel good because I know I don’t have to worry about writing for the rest of the day. There are days when I do write when I get home in the evening, but I don’t have to if I don’t feel like it.
What makes this November different from all the other NaNo sessions is that I’ve really been sticking to this. I always write in the morning before work, but there have been a couple of mornings where I’ve thought to just do it later. Maybe it was because I was too tired or I just wasn’t feeling any of the prompts I set up for myself.
When that happens, I make myself write anyway.
It may take me a little longer to reach my word count, I may end up making a ton of typos, the story may not come out as well as it could have been, but I get the writing done.
I don’t wait for the inspiration, I just do it.
The weekends are harder. You would think they’d be easier since I don’t have work, but I’m out of my routine. So it’s harder.
Saturdays aren’t too bad because Kris and I go to our local bookstore to write. So I have about three to four hours to get my daily word count in and I usually end up with more words than usual.
Sundays are difficult because I have church in the morning. I go early because I teach Sunday school and when I get home I end up relaxing and not doing much of anything.
This past Sunday, when my nephew was Baptized, I wrote before going to church. I forced myself to get it done because I knew I wasn’t going to have any time to do it later.
A lot people give advice to not wait for inspiration and just write something, anything, on your paper. Judging by the way this month has been going so far, I can tell you that advice is sound and very true.
How do you find the time to get your writing done? Let me know in the comments!
My daily goal is to write at least 2,000 words. I’ve been pretty consistent sticking to that. Day 5 was Saturday and Double-Up Day. I double my daily goal and reached 4,000 words within three hours. It was a very productive day!
I didn’t keep track of how many stories I wrote each day, but I’ve written a total of 14 short stories out of 52.
I’ve been aiming for each story to be about 1,000 words long. Most of them are, but there are three or four stories that are 2,000 words long. There’s also two or three that are less than 1,000 words. One is actually a poem instead of a short story that one reached just shy of 200 words.
I figured out all my prompts before NaNo started so I’ve been jumping around and writing these stories out of order. I have Short Story Sunday written for all of January and February. March is almost done and then I have a story or two for some of the other months.
Writing has been going smoothly. Like I said, I have all the prompts assigned to a date. I’ve been jumping around and writing the prompts that I feel like writing first instead of going in order of the dates. I think that’s been helping me keep up the momentum of writing every day.
A couple of the short stories I absolutely love and I think they may even be novel ideas someday.
This first week went so well. I have a few days off of work in week two, so I think I’ll be able to write more this week than I did last week, even though week two is considered “the slump” week.
How is NaNoWriMo treating you? Are you enjoying your writing project so far? Let me know in the comments!
Writing is hard. Participating in NaNoWriMo is harder.
Yet, there are many things you can do to control whether or not you reach your goal.
1. Write what you think is right for you
Camp NaNoWriMo is way more flexible than NaNoWriMo in November. During November you have to write 50,000 words of a brand new novel. Of course, not everyone does that and neither should you. Are you in the middle of writing a novel? Then keep going. Add 50,000 more words to it. Are novels not your thing? Write 50,000 words of poetry or short stories. Write something that you want to write, something that you’ll be in love with all month long. Otherwise, you’ll lose momentum and that 50,000-word goal will slip from your grasp.
2. Find your time
Are you a morning person? Write as soon as you get up. If you have work, wake up a little earlier to get some writing done. That’s what I do. If you work better in the afternoon or at night, then set aside a certain time to get your writing done. I write from 5:45-6:45/7 in the morning every weekday. I write 2,000 words in that time and then I’m done for the day (unless I feel like writing/have the time to write later on). Having the same time of day every day helps your brain get into that creative mode.
3. Embrace the mistakes
Can’t figure out how to spell a word? Don’t worry about it, that red line will remind you to fix it later. Need to research something? Put it in bold and make a note to look it up later. All first drafts are terrible. As long as you get your ideas down on paper, that’s all that matters.
4. Use prompts
Feeling stuck on what to do next? Are your characters tired and coming to a halt in action? Look up some writing prompts and include them in your novel. You may or may not like them, but it will keep you writing and you can edit it out later.
5. Accept encouragement and give support
The world of writing has the best community ever. Meet some writer friends through NaNo and cheer each other. Find some writer friends in real life and relate with one another whether they do NaNo or not. Don’t do NaNo alone and don’t let others do it alone.
6. Reward yourself
Did you meet your daily word count? Did you reach 25,000 words? 50,000? 50,000 in two weeks? Reward yourself! Give yourself small rewards for reaching your daily goal and give yourself something big when you reach the end and win. I always buy myself a new video game if I reach 50,000 words. Video games are expensive, they’re something I love, and something I don’t buy myself often. I think it’s a great reward for NaNo.
7. Take breaks
Making a lot of typos? Falling asleep at the computer? Are you starting to feel a bit dizzy or maybe your eyes are crossing from the bright screen? Walk away from the computer and take a break. Your body and mind needs to rest, no matter what your word count is.
8. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished
Whether you wrote 50,000 words in 30 days or 500 words in 30 days, be proud. You took on a tough challenge, you met new people, came up with new ideas, and wrote something. Whatever you write is more than what you would have had if you didn’t participate in NaNo. Don’t feel like a failure if you don’t reach 50,000, be happy that you tried and you did your best. Remember, November is a busy month. Holidays, family, friends, sicknesses, and life in general, get in the way.
What tips do you have for writers participating in NaNoWriMo?
If you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo, then you may have started a brand new story idea. Incorporate your experiences starting something new (whether it’s writing related or not). How does your main character react to new experiences? Does s/he like change?
As always, with four Saturdays this month, I plan on reading four books. Here are the books I plan to read, in no particular order:
1. Jack Gregson and the Forgotten Portal by Peter Wilson
2. Graven Idols by Jessica Dall
3. Joy School by Elizabeth Berg
4. Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline
It’s NaNoWriMo time! I’ve decided to write short stories this year so I can focus on editing as well as get a head start on content for the blog for 2017. So, this is what I hope to accomplish in November:
1. Write 50,000-words worth of short stories (hopefully write 52 shorts total)
2. Edit Side Effect (Kris’s novel. She’ll be editing The Lost Girl for me in the meantime)
3. Plan George Florence series (I’m still slowly figuring this one out)
I’ve written all my November posts (the ones that can be written in advance, I mean). So anything I work on for the blog will be for December or in prep for 2017.
1. Finish last minute November posts
2. Start on December and January posts
3. Finish the first part of a monthly feature that will begin on November 15 (this has been a slow-going thing as well… I can’t wait for it to be finished)
Between NaNo, work, the holidays, having a social life with friends and family, and other things, this is going to be an interesting month. A good month, but certainly interesting.
What are your goals for November? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments!
We can complain that the days and sometimes the weeks can drag on forever. But, if you really think about, the year always flies by. How the days can go so slow and the year go by fast is beyond me, but time is weird. What can I say?
I’m always eager to begin a new NaNo session, whether it’s Camp in April or July, or it’s the hardcore one in November. I’m always waiting and, like always, it comes up way too fast.
But no matter how much you’re prepared (or not prepared), you’re not always 100% ready for it to begin.
October is NaNo prep month for everyone who participates in NaNo (unless you don’t prep at all, but still the anticipation of the challenge is there).
Whether you finish flushing out your novel or not, you’re never going to be ready for NaNo.
I’m sure you’re trying to tell me that you’ve done NaNoWriMo X-amount of years prior to this one. You’ve always outlined and managed to reach your goal. Or you’ve always winged it and managed to reach your goal. Along the way, you came up with new ideas and expanded on old ones.
But while your novel is prepared, your life might not be.
November is a busy month for most. It’s filled with holidays, Thanksgiving at the end of the month, and preparations for December began long ago.
Aside from that, though, you have a job or you have school. If you’re in school you have homework as well. That takes a good chunk of time out of your day.
Of course, you also need to write up your blog posts, read a book or two, occasionally hang out with friends and family.
Oh, and don’t forget that this is when the colder weather really starts to settle in, so get those tissues ready and drink up that orange juice. Getting sick in the middle of NaNo is the worst!
So, what I’m trying to say, if you haven’t gotten it already, is that you can never be too prepared.
You can plan out your novel all you want even set a schedule for yourself for when you’re going to write. However, things come up and plans change.
If something like that happens, and maybe you even get a little behind on your word count because of it, don’t freak out. Remember you still have the same amount of time as the rest of us. You can easily catch up, but don’t write until your fingers bleed, either.
Take your time, allow your novel to breath as you write it. Keep your mind open and fresh.
And if you don’t reach your word goal, remember that you still accomplished something. Even if you only reach 10,000 words, that’s still 10,000 more words than you would have had. You still had more planning done on a novel than you would have without NaNo. You still made new friends and writing buddies.
NaNoWriMo is a fun, stressful challenge. You’re still accomplishing something huge even if you don’t “win.”
Be proud of that and do your best.
NaNoWriMo starts one week from today. This is the home stretch before it all begins. Rest up and good luck!
Are you and your novel ready for NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments!
If you’re a writer, you know the terms “planner” and “pantser.” Other writers will ask you which one you are.
There are no sides, neither one of them is the “right” way to write a novel or the “wrong” way to write a novel.
Our brains and minds all work differently and we work at our own pace and rhythm. If you have great ideas and have to follow a basic outline to stick with said ideas, then go for it. If you have an awesome idea and want to see where the word flow takes you, go for it.
However, there are pros and cons to each side.
What is a planner?
A planner is someone who figures out most (or every) details of their novel. They outline, they plot, they character develop long before the character is created on the page, they draw maps, and do so much more. They are the definition of prepared, especially when NaNoWriMo comes along.
Pros of being a planner
Writer’s block doesn’t hit them that hard, if at all, since they already know what is going to happen next.
There’s always room for improvement. An outline isn’t set in stone, it’s a guideline. If something needs to change or new ideas pop up, the writer can add and delete.
Cons of being a planner
It’s a lot of work. Not to sound lazy, but creating an outline takes a lot of time, effort, and brainpower before the actual writing even begins.
What is a pantser?
A pantser “flies by the seat of their pants.” They don’t go in with any sort of plan (or something even an idea). They just go with the flow and see what happens next.
Pros of being a pantser
Flexibility. Since they have no outline, they can do whatever they want to their characters and create twists and turns. There are no limits.
They can dive right in. Do you want to write a story right now? Go right ahead. No ideas? That’s okay, just write whatever comes into your mind.
Cons of being a pantser
They may get writer’s block and that can put their story on hold for a long time.
Of course, take these pros and cons with a grain of salt. Like I said, there is no right or wrong side. There is no right or wrong way to write a novel.
As long as you have an active imagination, that’s all that matters.
Are you a planner or pantser? Let me know in the comments below!
Remember that literary plot we used to learn about all the time in elementary school? You know, we’d read a book in class and then we’d have to do some sort of project or essay about it. It often included summarizing what you read.
Well, apparently that’s more useful than we ever imagined. Who knew that we’d actually be using something we learned in school later on in life?
Normally, we would summarize our novels after we’ve written them. That would make the most sense. But, if you’re a planner, this is a decent start.
Even if you’re a pantser, this is something good to have before or after you write your novel. It’s the bare minimum of details and it goes a long way when summarizing your novel.
What is the exposition?
The exposition is the beginning of the novel. Introduce the novel including the main characters, setting, and conflict.
What is the rising action?
The rising action is your protagonist attempting to solve the problem at hand. In most cases, they fail the first time or so.
What is the climax?
The climax is the turning point of the story. It’s the most suspenseful, it makes or breaks whatever your protagonist is going through.
What is the falling action?
Just like the rising action, the falling action is actions that happen after the climax. The rising action and falling action just help us get from point A to point B.
What is the resolution?
The resolution of the story is the conclusion. The problems are solved, everyone lives happily ever after… Or rocks fall and everyone dies. Do with that what you will.
As I stated earlier, this is something that you would typically do after your novel is complete. However, if you’re trying to outline and get a feel for what you want to happen, I think this is a great starting point.
If you’re a pantser, try this out anyway. You may have more information figured out than you realize. And that can help drive you from one point to the other when you start writing.
I remember I hated writing summaries when I was in school. I understand this literary plot to a point, but in the end it was always homework to me. Now that I’m older and I’m using it for my own creative writing, I’ve realized how helpful (and easy) it is.
Yesterday I explained why, in my opinion, writing what you know is good advice.
No one expects you to write complete nonfiction works of your life. No one expects you to base all of your fictional work on real life experiences.
You need a good balance between what you know and what you don’t know. I mean, let’s be honest here. If you’re writing fantasy, are you ever going to encounter a dragon? I’d say those chances are slim.
How do I write what I don’t know?
Research, research, research!
I was that kid in school who loved doing projects and essays that you needed to do research for.
Not mention that I’m a 90s kid so I grew up with the evolution of computers and technology. So any excuse to get me to be on the computer was good enough for me.
These days, the Internet is your best friend, though you have to wary of the types of websites you find. Sorry to say that not everything on the Internet is true.
Not even this blog as this is all my opinion. And that’s a fact.
But to be serious, there are many different ways to research.
How do I research?
Like I said, the Internet is a great one. As long as you find credible sources, you have a vast amount of information at your fingertips.
There are also books. The bookstore and the library are your friends. No one goes there as often as they should anymore. Even if you don’t have any research to do, just go in there and sniff a book or two. Better yet, buy a few.
Talk to people. Are you trying to research what it’s like to be a doctor? How to become a doctor? What they’re typical day is like? Talk to any doctors that you know. Ask to interview them. I babysit for a family and the kids’ father is in the Fire Academy. My main character is a detective, but I’ve been getting good insight on what the Police Academy is like. Fire and Police aren’t the same, but they run similar drills and are just as tough to get through.
Another form of research is (wait for it…) real life experiences.
Yes, I just did that.
Wait a minute!
Hold on, I’m still explaining.
I’m not telling you to do research on that hypothetical flat tire you got the other day. No, I’m telling you to research by hands-on experience.
For example, I have to research archery for my novel The Lost Girl. I’ve Googled archery and even looked up writing-related information about it through Pinterest. However, there’s only so much I can read about archery. There’s no feeling behind it.
I can explain how my protagonist holds her bow and pulls back the arrow, but I can’t describe how it feels to actually release the arrow. So, Kris is going to accompany me to an archery class. I’ll tell you all about that when the time comes.
But I’m sure you get my point now. Research is important and so is living. Everything counts and everything helps towards your writing.
Write down all your life experiences, good and bad. Find something that interests you and research it. It’s great material for your stories and you’ll learn something new.
Do you research a lot? What are your methods for researching? Or do you write more true-to-life type stories? Let me know in the comments!