NaNoWriMo

I wrote about my strategy to pay attention to my bodies desires and write for a bit, get up and move around, then write some more. It was a fantastic plan, and I’ve been doing it regularly. The trouble is that things get in the way sometimes. I still have to write, of course, but those things make following my bodies natural rhythms difficult.

SLEEP

I haven’t been getting much. Plain and simple, I just am not right now. Part of this is that my boyfriend moved in, and our work schedules do not synced up very well. I tend to like writing at night after the house has settle down, usually from 10pm to 1am. He wakes up at 5:30am. This throws my sleep scheduled off a lot since I have difficulty going back to sleep afterward.

It’s okay for a while, but I’ve been finding myself taking naps after work lately just to make it through the night. The nice part is that his schedule will change soon and hopefully I’ll be getting more sleep.

Worse? Both of us have been working massive amounts of overtime at our respective jobs. This has left me less down time to just relax and have time to myself, especially since the one day a week I have off is devoted to dentist appointments, shopping, and other necessities of living. I’m tired. I’m writing anyway.

Family Obligations

A while ago I wrote about my daughter coming home and having to go pick her up from the bus. This was a huge sap on my writing schedule and I have been struggling to catch up ever since. I’ve written 2000 words on a lot of those days since then, but with the lack of sleep, and a few other things going on I just haven’t caught up. I’m currently 4k behind and it’s looking like I’m going to stay hovering at 3-4k behind till the very last day.

BUT!

dataagainNaNoWriMo, for me, is a learning experience each year. This year I’ve learned that writing 1500 words a day isn’t difficult, and I’m hoping to stay at that level even after NaNoWriMo is over. What really is amazing to me is that over the last twenty two days I’ve had four days of less then 1000 words. FOUR DAYS! That’s kind of amazing for me. And on those days I still wrote almost 500 words most days. That is extremely different for me and incredible in and of itself.

Before this month my average for writing was 3-500 words. That’s it. Some days less, some days more, but never enough to make me feel like writing could be a full time career. A writer needs to do one thing above all others: write. If you aren’t writing then how can you make a living writing? Does a swimmer swim? Does a musician play an instrument? If they aren’t doing that thing then how do they make the money?

So the fact that my writing has increased steadily, and that I now feel comfortable, almost elated to have so many words a day, is fantastic. I know that when I switch over to doing edits that word count is going to drop, but hopefully I can work on a project in the evenings and edit in the mornings. I’m not quite sure about that one yet, but I’ll have a perfect opportunity to find out after NaNoWriMo, and book three of my trilogy is complete.

No you can not write!

keep-calm-because-stuff-happensWe make plans. Then something happens. That’s life.

Last night I got a surprise call from my daughter. “I’m coming home mom. They shut down school because of a big blizzard coming through and sent us home. Come pick me up at the bus station”… at 10 pm.

Bus was an hour late late. Drive was 45 min each way.

I did manage to write 500 words yesterday, but as of this moment I am 3866 words behind. That’s 15.5 pages.

Can I write that much in a day? Probably not. I’ve got things to do today. But I will be working really hard over the next few days to catch back up to the daily goal so that I don’t have to write 10k words in one day at the end of NaNoWriMo.

So what did we learn? If you’ve got to sit at the bus station waiting for your daughter for an hour maybe you should bring a way to write for a little bit, even if it’s on your phone. I wasn’t prepared to do that.

Also, stuff happens. No matter how much you plan, how well things are going, stuff is going to come up. It’s going to side track you and throw you off. But you just keep plowing threw.

NaNoWriMo day 3

I can’t believe how well it’s going, and yet I don’t want to jinx it. It’s only day three, but I’m on target, and feeling good about this novel.

My secret? The best plot ever!

Plot it out!
I’ve always been more of a pantser then a plotter, but this time I did some really thorough beats. I was influenced by the guys over at SPP who showed how they did beats, and put out a TON of wordage every month. I want that wordage! So I beat out the story, since I already had a basic plot, and gave myself a more complete skeleton on which to work my writing magic. The results? Two hours. TWO HOURS of writing gives me my word count for the day. There is no fuss, no muss, and then I can spend the evening cuddling on the couch with my boyfriend. THAT makes plotting worth it.

EXCITEMENT!
I just finished Mermaid’s Curse 1 last week, so I had a bit of excitement left over from finishing that project. Then I finished a really fantastic plot for book three (kind of Lovecraft meets high fantasy) and I just loved it. The plot got me excited, and if I’m excited I’m more confidant that a reader will love it too.

Write what you love, people. Don’t just write whatever comes to mind. You love dinosaurs? Write about them. You love romance? Write that. You love tanks and battle fields? Write that! Whatever it is you absolutely love use that as part of your story and that love will come through.

Time
Time is a huge thing for me. In order to really get into the groove of writing I need an hour, at least, to get fully into it. That means no children waiting to distract me, no games, no email, no TV shows. Just me, the headphones, and some chillstep playing in the background on loop. I even listen to the same exact video on youtube every time I start writing because it just tells my body: okay, time to get down to business.

Time is sometimes the hardest thing to get when you’re writing. Some of our friends and family just don’t get why why are doing NaNo, or why we even care about writing in the first place. Some of our friends don’t even read (why are you friends with people who don’t read? kidding!). But we have to be firm, and unrepentant. This is important to us, for whatever reason, and it isn’t fair of them to try to take it away. How would they feel if we got in the way of their hobby/craft/work/etc?

In the zone!
This last one… The “zone” is not a muse waiting to give you her affection when she feels like it. No, the zone is a place you figure out how to get into, and then you do the same thing to get into it every time.

A runner who does marathons trains for months, if not years, until he finally slips into a ground eating rhythm that lets him run, and FINISH, a marathon. A singer trains their voice for years so that they can hold and sustain notes, sing at a consistent level, and perform in front of crowds for hours. Whatever the craft, these things take practice. It takes training the mind and body to do these things, and do them consistently. Why would writing be any different.

I found the things that made writing easier for me (writing at night, listening to chillstep, uninterrupted) and did them over and over and over while writing. It’s taken a year, but I finally feel like I could sit down and write just by setting aside that block of time, turning on my music, and going over yesterdays writing till something strikes.

It’s the consistent pattern, the butt in chair time, that make the zone, or the muse come to you instead of waiting for them to appear from thin air.

I really believe that if you can figure out what inspires you to write, and do them consistently over a long period of time, then you will be able to consistently write more and more.

I’m a WINNER! – NaNoWriMo Day 30

winner

I finished NaNoWriMo.

Now, to be fair, I did not finish my novel. I did write 50,000 words in my novel, and technically won NaNoWriMo, but I have so much more to go in my actual novel.

In fact, I rewrote a couple chapters already, and had to toss out 10,000 words of just pure rubbish over the last month. (They still counted, and I still have more to throw out once I rewrite those sections.)

 

What I learned from NaNoWriMo!

The muse will come. Sit down, start writing, and eventually the muse will show up to. Don’t know what to write? Write that. Write about what you think might be happening. Wright about an argument between the two main characters about nothing happening. But write, and eventually the muse will show up to.

Two, I do better at 1000 words a day right now. I had to push for the last two days to break that 50,000 word goal because I simply work better, and more consistently at 1000 words a day. But I also know that the more I do that, the more I will stretch my goals and eventually next year, when NaNoWriMo comes around again I will be able to complete this challenge with a couple days left to go ( I hope).

Lastly… It is really REALLY helpful to have a family who supports you when writing. That calls you up, or texts you every day and asks how writing is going. That encourages you, and tells you that you’re awesome. That listens to you when you are having a bad day and you think everything you write sucks.

Half of what I wrote (at least) was total, utter, crap. I’m going to have to pick out the few sentences I loved, and rewrite everything else. That means going through the entire books page by page with an editors mindset, and rewriting it ALL. But it’s gong to be worth it, because I will fill in all those missing sections, and make the story even better then it started out.

In fact… what started out as a “paranormal romance” has grown. Oh, the paranormal and the romance are still there. There is also political intrigue, a church gone amuck sacrificing people to their god to keep control, curses being lifted, a harpy nest, a siren that looks like death warmed over… I’ve got it all!

And I really can’t wait to show you all, so I’ll be doing some polishing and rewriting, and hopefully in another month or two I will have a finished copy.

I think I am going to take a short break from it all, and work on my zombie story, though. I need a short breather from mermaids and curses.

Time off – NaNoWriMo Day 25

I took a me day yesterday. That isn’t to say I didn’t write, but I didn’t write nearly as much as I was suppose to write.

My boyfriend came over, made me dinner, cleaned the house a little, and I relaxed for a little while. It was wonderful. We got to spend time together, something I’d been missing a lot of this month since he wanted to help me finish my NaNo challenge, and I was behind.

I’m still behind, though not as much as I was three days ago. I’m making steady gains. And by taking a me day yesterday and only writing 700 words instead of 2k I felt much better today. I stopped thinking about how awful my writing was, and I just wrote this morning. I rewrote a chapter and I’m much happier with it. And I have another chapter waiting for me to write it. Any easy 3k words today, which pays off for the slacking yesterday.

Do you need a day to rest? It’s late in the game, I know, but sometimes… you just need a break. It doesn’t even have to be a whole day. Maybe you just need to go watch a show, or go have a drink with a friend.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself while you’re taking care of the writing.

Mid Novel Slump – NaNoWriMo Day 21

It is day 21 of NaNoWriMo, and day 21 of me slogging through my novel.

I think i’ve hit the mid novel slump. It’s that point when you’ve been working on the same project for some time, and your brain starts saying things like “but what if it isn’t any good?” And “I don’t know what to write.” Or my favorite: “You Suck!”

Then I start looking at sales numbers, or old comments, or anything else that reinforces my brain trying to tell me that I suck.

Let me just say… THAT’S THE WRONG THING TO DO!

Usually when I get in this funk I switch projects for a while, and then come back at it with fresh eyes. It helps cut down on the BS my brain wants to tell me. Helps me separate the ideas brewing in my head from what’s actually on the page. Gives me perspective.

I’m trying not to do that this time. Switching projects is great. It’s given me a back log of stories to pull from, and tons of ideas and fresh perspectives. See, the problem with switching projects is that it also makes it really easy just to… stop working on that project. And never finish it.

I wrote and published just over 100k words this year. But I have 350k words written, and that’s only on the stories I’m tracking. About 2/3rds of that was written in the last year.

To put it another way… I am tracking my progress on 34 short stories, 17 novellas and novels. I finished 20 short stories and 3 novellas. (Not looking good for the longer stuff). But I’ve clearly added to all of those stories over the last year. I’ve also come up with new stories to add to the list.

This isn’t even including the file I have with “ideas” that literally  has thousands of story starters, each one between 100, and 5,000 words long.

Geez, I’ve written a lot over the course of my life. But… of those thousands of stories, only a scant few are finished. That’s not a good thing if I want to make my living as a writer.

So I have made this NaNoWriMo’s goal to work on one novel… almost exclusively. I have edited and worked on a short story that I’d like to have out next month, but my main focus is “Mermaids Curse”, which is just under 30,000 words right now.

I’ve added back story, world building, characterization, descriptions, and little plot points that add to all of these… and I’m still going.

But, somethings missing, and I’m not quite sure what it is. I know much of the second half is more action oriented, with the action helping to build the relationship, and character of each person. And the first half focuses almost exclusively on the relationship of the two main characters, with one big action scene right before the split of part one and two, and the shift in characters.

Do I know if any of this will work and create a decent book? Hell no! Am I going to write it anyway? Yes. Because it’s worth it to me.

A Sale – and NaNoWriMo day 14

Amazon has their new Countdown, so I’m trying it this weekend.

Small Bites: The Complete Collection” will be on sale for .99 cents in December 14th (because you have to scheduled a month in advance.). $1.99 on the 15th. $2.99 on the 16th, and back to normal price on the following Monday. If you haven’t read it yet, here is a great opportunity to get it. (Don’t worry, I’ll remind you about it.)

If you have read it, and haven’t written a review, I would absolutely love one. I am only a couple away from ten.

As for NaNoWriMo, I am finally starting to get into the swing of things with it. I started in a funk, trying to get through things, and forcing myself to sit down at the computer. Sometime over the last couple days I finally found a rhythm and realized.. i like this story. I like where it’s going, and I can write it.

I think last night was the break through when I decided how it was going to end. The pieces started falling together, finally, and I was able to write several chapters.

I have a better feel for the characters now, and can see where they are all coming from. It’s made the writing so much easier, and I wrote nearly 2000 words today without even thinking about it.

I am much more confident about this becoming a full novel. It’s already 20k words in, and I have so much more to write.