Tag: blogging

How I do NaNoWriMo: One woman’s reflection of the process.

This morning, I was like, hey! When is National Novel READING Month, but I was informed by my kids that NaNoReMO is a year long affair. However, NationalToday.com states that in 2003, the National Book Foundation recognized October as National Book Month. We missed it this year, readers. Mark your calendars though, because we will be doing it to the extreme next year!

We are on day seven of celebrating the month designated in the writing world as National Novel Writing Month.

I wanted to address three things that my excitement in the previous post didn’t allow.

  1. I am not a National Novel Writing Month Master. In the past, I avoided it because I was not in a position to put myself into a 50k surplus of words. The first time that I entered NaNoWriMo was last year, and I was successful only because I trained.

I have spent years writing, building my literary muscles, and learning strategies that have made me relatively successful in meeting goals that I set in place. I also have a work environment that promotes writing, and I have amazing coworkers and mentors who are continually checking in on me. I have a relaxed home life with no expectations that consume all of my time. I am one of the blessed.

I also have a kickass kitty editor:

2. I was asked the other day, if your main objective is to just get 50,000 words in a month, aren’t they going to be really crappy? For example, you could just blather on about the blue sky, or well maybe it was more gray but at either rate something that made your character think it was about too to rain, which thus altered their mood and made the whole day seem pretty blahworthy? <~ in other words, wouldn’t you just be putting words on a page, and not really have accomplished much if you’re going to revise them out?

I agree that sounds like a waste, and I’m not going to claim that people don’t do that. However, I would say to give me more credit than that. I am as equally likely to put an excess amount of words into my drafts even when I’m not tracking them, not because I’m a bad writer, but because I know that my main goal in creating a draft is getting words on a page. My focus is on my ideas, or what I’m visualizing, which can change as I gain more clarity through the act of writing. I embrace the sloppiness and redundancy of my drafts no matter what time of year.

Despite my bravado in the previous paragraph, I was curious, so I looked back at a rough draft of a piece that I had started in September. It was a short story, still kind of crappy and needing a lot of revision. In this piece, I did what I’d like to call a very skeletal telling of the situation. The plot was moving on, but there was no real description of anything. There was also a lot of dialogue that felt awkward (Do people still say Greetings?). Then, I looked at what I had written on the first day of Nano. My first day of NaNo work was superior to the short story. But it wasn’t because I was focused on getting words out and spending more of my time writing, I credit the fact that I did more prep work for my NaNo project. For the NaNo project, I had spent October detailing things so I had a clearer picture, and because I had a clearer picture, it was easier to bring the words out. I don’t really know the characters in my September short story yet, so sometimes they became stiff as I was writing about them. As such, I would say that NaNo is not affecting my ability to write efficiently, plotting is. And it’s not to say that my September piece won’t eventually be on the same level, it just means I took a different approach to get there.

3. My biggest secret to the NaNoWriMo experience is that I don’t write all day, nor do I write in large spans of time. Never have, even as an academic writer, and to me, an hour is too long. During NaNo, there has not been a day so far that I haven’t been able to sit down and do some level of ninja writing sprints. In these sprints, I don’t look at 50k, I look at 500 words. I’m just going to commit to sitting wherever I am at, watching my characters, and seeing how they interact with each other… for 500 words. Sometimes it takes ten minutes, others 20-40 minutes, but after that, I am off to do something else.

I don’t make it a habit to be consumed with writing so that I become burned out. You will never catch me trying to sit down for more than 40 minutes to write, and this is a model that I celebrate throughout the year. The only thing that has changed during NaNo is how many times that will I sit down and sprint throughout the day. It also doesn’t mean that I won’t go over 500 words; I have on several occasions, if I am in the zone. I just don’t expect it.

I also don’t do any writing after 7 p.m. unless I am at work on Thursdays.  I embrace the me time during these hours, but again, I have a schedule and support network that allows me to do this. Not everyone has that luxury.

I am really curious to see what every one else’s tricks to NaNoWriMo are. What tricks do you find successful that I can add to my toolbox?

Or what are your reasons for not attempting NaNo? It’s not for every writer, and these reasons are just valuable.  

National Novel Writing 2019 Edition

Forget Halloween and dressing up for candy, it’s time to talk about my favorite time of year:

National Novel Writing Month! NaNoWriMo is an organization that collaborates with writers and helps them receive resources, thus allowing them to reach success within their projects. I’m a long time fan, and have blogged about it numerous times in the past.

This year’s project is a bit tricky:

My mother asked me to write a romance Navy-Sealesque type story for her birthday. She’s big into these type of books, which have quite a huge range to choose from. I got about one chapter done before scrapping it. Commission writing is hard, especially when you’re not getting paid for it, but the idea I had in mind stuck with me. Then, I had a genius idea to synthesize it with a previous story that I also scrapped. Throw in another romantic duo and BAM, an idea is ready to spring forth into fruition!  It’s unlike anything that I have written before, and definitely not like the romance books my mom reads, but I’m excited to see how it all comes together.

This is the first time that I have done some serious prepping for my upcoming project. I created an index: character profiles, histories of each country involved, and all the socio-political issues being faced. I’m quite proud of myself!

I also created a log to accompany me around, which was great in helping me strategize when I can write. In theory, 1667 a day seems doable, until you run into a day where you have only 3 hours free. As a result, my daily count ranges from 500-3,000 a day to make sure that I can maximize my free days and not stress about the days that aren’t. If I keep on track, I will have no trouble reaching the hefty 50,000 goal.

However, there lies the one catch to this whole process. To get to 50,000 words in a 30 day window, I have to be really focused, especially since I am a turtle writer. One missed 3,000 day will instantly derail me. And I have a lot of distractions to contend with. I have a new writing buddy, who is only seven weeks and eager to have my attention at all times. I have work, which often exhausts me because it comes with a huge mental load. I have a family and their numerous activities. NaNoWriMo is a serious test of perseverance.

And if that were not enough, I like to take NaNoWriMo to the extreme. On top of writing, I will be reading The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. When I saw this for sale in a scholarship bookfair event on campus, I knew that it would be perfect for November.

For audio pleasure this month, I will be listening to You Do You by Sarah Knight. It’s not about writing, which I try to stick to each year, but I felt like this had the right energy to keep things in perspective. Plus, her Tedx Talk puts me in the right mood to be reminded of how valuable my time is, and to spend it wisely. There’s no extra f*cks during National Novel Writing Month!

Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo?