NaNoWriMo 2016 – Day 1

November snuck up on me! At least I’m prepared for NaNoWriMo. Well, as prepared as a pantser will be.

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I had a few story ideas and, a week or two ago, my 11-year-old son helped me choose which one to write. Since then, I have named a few of the main characters and thought about a general story line. Here is my synopsis from my novel announcement:

Tulpa pets are all the rage. Everyone has one. Except for high school student Jen. (I’m pantsing the story again this year, so we’ll see where the story goes from there.)

The working title is Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Tulpa. Why? Because I love the Beatles song that inspired the name (Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey from one of the best, if not the best, albums of all time) and it kept getting stuck in my head. So I went with it. I’ll come up with a better title once the first draft is finished.

It will be a young adult novel and I’m going to write this one in first person. This will be a fun challenge, because I wrote in third person last year and it was intended for adults. Yes, I cursed freely in that one. Won’t be cursing so much, if at all, in this one. I plan to make it something my son can read.

As for the actual writing, I’ll be writing on my iPad during lunch at work again. Then writing for another hour or two at home in the evening. I’ll be using Scrivener at home again this year. I didn’t use it “properly” last year because I just put in a bunch of text pages for each chapter. Not rebellious, just lazy. But it was easy to go back and break out the novel for revision.

Enough writing about writing for NaNoWriMo 2016…

Good luck, fellow participants! We can do this!

NaNoWriMo 2016

Right after winning my first attempt at NaNoWriMo in 2015 as a pantser, I decided I was going to be a planner for 2016 to try something different.

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Guess what.

I still haven’t planned.

Perhaps I am meant to be a pantser. I’m okay with that. It was so fun watching the story unfold especially when I didn’t even know what was going to happen next. I’m actually looking forward to that experience again this year.

At the moment, I just have a couple of vague ideas of a couple of stories I might want to write, with a few more rolling around in the back of my head. About the only planning I’ll be doing before November 1 is deciding on which story to go with. I could do like I did last year and change my mind on October 31. Heck, I may just go with a suggestion from Stephen King in his On Writing book and pick a situation and let the story unfold. As long as I have a starting point on November 1, I’ll be happy.

One thing I do hope to do different this year is go to a local NaNoWriMo writing event. I didn’t do this last year, and I think it could be fun to do. We’ll see how schedules work out next month.

I will probably check around and see what prep other folks are doing. I might do some last minute planning, but it will likely be a small enough amount that saying I’m a pantser will still be accurate. 🙂

Antioch Writers’ Workshop – Spring 2016 Seminar

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Antioch Writers’ Workshop Spring 2016 Seminar.

The theme was “The Writing Life” and featured a talk called “The Inner Writing Life” with Margaret Wrinkle, author of Wash. Hearing her talk about the process of writing Wash was incredibly interesting. She also had some very good advice and reminders for all writers. A couple of things that I took away from her talk are:

  • Fear is part of the process, but don’t let it stop you. Decide to be scared later.
  • Be present in the experiences you are having. (I tend to be off in my own world sometimes, and need to work on this.)

Ms. Wrinkle said many other things that I found helpful, but I’m not going to type out my page of notes here. If you get a chance to hear her speak, my guess is you will also have a page or two of helpful notes on writing.

The afternoon featured three breakout sessions that were all quite good. Five topics were offered, but we could only choose three of them. I chose the following:

I would like to say thanks to all three speakers because their talks were excellent and provided helpful information. Continue reading

Writing – Bird by Bird

After participating in and winning NaNoWriMo, I wanted to learn more about the writing process and how to become better at it. One of the books that kept popping up as a recommendation was Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

Let me start by saying that I rarely read books that are not fiction. So it was a big deal for me to voluntarily read a book that wasn’t about a dystopian future with vampires or witches dealing with demons in the ever-after or some sort of manga. (I added links to these series are below, because I love them and feel they are good examples of well-written stories.)

Back to reading about writing and Bird by Bird…

When I was in high school and college, I had romantic notions of being a writer sitting on a beach typing away as the words would flow with beautiful fluidity from my brain to the page while I sat in peaceful bliss writing the great American novel that would be published and sell millions of copies allowing me to make a living doing something I love. Then I tried writing some poetry that was really bad, got annoyed, and gave up on it.

Ms. Lamott’s writing felt like a friend talking to you honestly about writing and the life of a writer. It’s not always romantic. It’s not always easy to get the words from your brain to the paper. It’s not always peaceful bliss. It’s not easy to write the great American novel. It doesn’t always allow you to make a living.

But the reward of dealing with the crappy parts of it and working at it is worth it.

Finding your voice is worth it. Being able to say what you feel like you need to say and tell the stories you need to tell are worth it. Helping others by telling your stories is worth it. Stepping back and looking at life differently as a writer is worth it. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

I am super excited to share that I finished my novel today. The official word count is 50,597 according to the NaNoWriMo site (50,682 according to Scrivener, but both are over 50,000 so I’m good with that).

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I’m also very excited that the story was finished with the 50,000 word mark. Not bad for mostly winging this thing.

My main goal for NaNoWriMo 2015 was to just try it. Start something. Just getting something on paper, so to speak, was a huge success for me. Hitting the 50,000 word mark was secondary, but still a goal I really, really wanted to reach.

My last goal was to write something that I liked. I knew it would be a crappy first draft, because that is what first drafts are. And it is crappy. I already have a list of things I want to change. But I enjoy the story a lot. I am actually looking forward to reading through it again when I go to make revisions. And there is all sorts of little things in it that I find highly amusing. They might not make the final cut, because I might be the only one who likes them. There are several references to Supernatural and I think most if not all of those will make the final cut. There are some Doctor Who references as well. Those make sense, too, so they might stay. Perhaps I should throw in more Sherlock references and go for the SuperWhoLock trifecta. It will be fun to see what makes the cut.

After a wildly successful NaNoWriMo, my plan now is to take a break. While it is a noble goal to write for 30 days straight, I think it is not for me right now. I’m going to set aside the story and revisit it in a few weeks. I plan to go through the revision process and maybe try to publish it. Because there is really no reason to not try, right?

Again, congratulations to my fellow NaNoWriMo winners. We did it! For everyone who is close, you can do it, too!

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Week 3

At the end of week 3 of NaNoWriMo, I have gone just over 45,000 words. Woohoo! When this whole thing started, that number seemed so far away. Now I’m here with only 5,000 words to go for the win.

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Even more exciting is I think I paced the story correctly to wrap up at right around the 50,000 word mark. Woohoo again! The plan is to finish the novel today, at least the first draft, and then I will likely call the month done. That is, as soon as I validate that I have won on the NaNoWriMo site and order my winner t-shirt. 🙂

Now, about week 3. It has been interesting. There were several times when I wasn’t sure how the story was going to get from point A to point B. And then point B changed a bit. It has been very exciting to watch the story unfold.

The other interesting thing was watching a couple of minor characters start to play major parts. I now have a list of things I want to go back and adjust earlier in the story so their larger parts in the action make a little more sense.

I had a slight challenge with time yesterday because I had scheduled a hair cut and color in the middle of the day. (Note to self: No cut and color next November.) I took out my phone and typed about a thousand words while my color was processing. I felt like a novel-writing super hero. I was even wearing a cape! (Ok, it was actually a smock and my hair looked funny with the color in it, but let me have my moment… 😉 )

The biggest challenge of week 3 has been the release of Star Wars Battlefront. I want so badly to sit and play it for a few hours. So I am using it as motivation to finish this novel. Playing the game will be my reward.

With that in mind, I’d better hop to it and finish those last 5,000 words. I wrote 5,000 yesterday even with a trip to the salon, so I know it can be done today when only laundry needs to be done.

Congratulations to my fellow participants who have already crossed the finish line of 50,000 words!

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Week 2

Two weeks down and two weeks to go for NaNoWriMo 2015. My goal for this weekend was to hit 27,000 words before I stopped writing today. I am incredibly excited to report that I am currently at 30,051 words. Woohoo! I might give myself the evening off because I’m a bit sleepy and because I’ve hit a little bit of a block. I can feel the solution rattling around in the back of my head, and maybe a break from writing will get it to make itself known.

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The big challenge of this week has been figuring out how to progress the story. The characters have been introduced (though I’d already like to go back and add more about them) and the main problems to be addressed have been presented. I know where I want the story to get to, but the path there has been a bit hazy.

But I know the solution is going to present itself at some point. It might wake me up in the middle of the night or it might distract me at work tomorrow. We’ll see. It’s just part of the excitement of pantsing NaNoWriMo.

Even with a bit of struggle this week, I think a few things have really helped me. First, I love to read and get completely lost in a story. Writing a novel is pretty much the ultimate getting lost in a story and I love it. When I read someone else’s book, I will start thinking ahead to what might happen next. In order to try to see what will happen next in my novel, I get lost in my own story and something usually comes to mind.

Second, I tend to get lost in my own head at times. It’s an annoying and rude habit for those around me. But it helps with this story in that I have no problem with wandering off into my own story in my own head. Now my mental wanderings are put to good use instead of obsessing over things that just don’t help, like reviewing mistakes I’ve made or thinking of all possible scary things that might happen in life. It’s also giving some focus to my imagination, which can run pretty wild. I suppose my wild imagination is another thing that has helped me this week.

The last thing that I’ve noticed this week that has helped is the same practice I use when approaching most of my creative adventures. When I know I will have a limited time to sit and work on something, I mentally start planning it out ahead of time. So when I’m ready to do it, I have a plan and can execute it. Each day I have roughly planned out when I will have time to write. Then I think about what part I want to tackle next while wandering around in my head while doing other things like dishes, laundry, getting ready for work, etc. By the time I sit down to write, I usually have a good start on what I want to write. At the very least, I have an idea of things to tweak in the last section I wrote which usually flows into what will happen next.

I’m looking forward to weeks 3 and 4. Having passed the halfway point for words has helped a great deal with making this whole crazy plan to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days seem possible.

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Week 1

Week one of NaNoWriMo 2015 is in the books. Literally. A lot of novels have been started this past week. I’m counting my first week as a success simply because I began writing. There are also a few things about this week that I was very excited about.

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First, I managed to write every day of the week. The first few days I hit my goal of 2,000 words each day. The other days, not so much. But I managed to write something and I’m not too far behind where I wanted to be by the end of the week. I knew I was going to lose some writing time this past week, so my goal was to be at 10,000 by the end of Saturday. I was at 8,901. Not bad. My goal today is to make up the difference and hit 12,000 by the time I’m done.

Another thing I was excited about was resisting the temptation to go back and read what I had already written and make changes. So far I have been able to keep my inner editor quiet. Yes, there are things I already want to go back and modify, but they are being saved for the editing process. I plan to go through the editing process even if I have no intention to try to publish this novel. It seems like it would be a good learning experience for next year’s NaNoWriMo.

Perhaps the thing I’m most excited about from this first week is that this novel feels like something I would like to read. I am excited about sitting down to read it straight through. Given that I’m only writing this for me, that is a great sign.

Now that week two is beginning, I feel like I have a much better idea of where this story is headed. I have just written out a super skeletal outline for the rest of the story so I can remember where I wanted to go with it.

Well, I have 3,099 words to write today. I’d better hop to it.

Good luck to my fellow NaNoWriMo participants! I hope you are having as much fun as I have been! 🙂

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Day 1

Today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Thank you to everyone who has provided advice for approaching this adventure. It has been quite helpful.

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While I am still pantsing for my first year (in case you aren’t familiar, that just means I have declared that I am writing this novel by the seat of my pants), I have put in a little preparation to know my character and the general setting of the story. I also have a general idea of what I generally want to happen. Notice how general my “planning” has been?

I did have a moment of mild panic earlier today when I realized that I hadn’t bothered to figure out how I wanted to start the story. This is when it was very helpful to have my husband participating in NaNoWriMo with me. He is pretty hardcore pantsing it, as he had only decided how to start his novel, but really has no idea where he is going with it beyond that. He started writing today before I did and he said he completely changed how he started his novel.

That made me realize I just needed to sit down and start the freakin’ thing trusting that the beginning would pop into my head. After all, starting with something that just popped into my head is better than not starting at all.

My rough goal is 2,000 words a day this month. To write 50,000 words in 30 days, the daily average should be about 1,667. I already know there will be a few days when I won’t be able to write, hence the daily goal of 2,000.

So far I have 766 words toward the goal of 2,000 for today. And I have to say that I am happy with the beginning of the story that popped into my head. It already sounds like something I would want to read, which is my main goal for this novel. I’m writing it for me. If I like it enough to edit and share it, then so be it. For now, I’m writing it as if I am the only one who will read it.

Time to get back to having fun with this story and increasing my word count. 🙂

I Will Write a Novel

I have signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

I heard about NaNoWriMo for the first time about a year ago on Pinterest. In case this is the first you’ve heard of it, NaNoWriMo is an annual event in November for anyone who wants to write a novel (50,000 words) in 30 days.

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You might be thinking, “50,000 words in 30 days, that’s crazy talk!”

Yes, yes it is.

But it can be done. Almost 59,000 people reached the goal in 2014.

You may recall from a previous post that I have let fear stop me from trying creative writing in the past. NaNoWriMo seems like a great opportunity to force myself to get over it and have fun trying to reach a lofty goal.

To prepare, I am reading No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty. This book has been very helpful and encouraging, because, well, I have no plot. Just a general idea of a couple of main characters and a vague idea of what I sorta want to kinda happen. I would like to have this a little more sorted out by November 1, but I plan to participate this year as a “pantser” – one who dives into this with little preparation and flies by the seat of his/her pants.

I would love to hear from anyone who has participated in NaNoWriMo in the past or who will be participating this year. If you are not participating, I would love to hear any words of encouragement you might have. 🙂

No Plot? No Problem!: