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The Half Way Point

It’s day 18 of NaNoWriMo and a little over half way through the month. I’m currently at 25,800 words. Just slightly over half the 50k. And at this point I know I can make it, I’m actually farther ahead then I’ve been most years. But I am behind. Partly because of a huge storm that knocked out power for a day and a half. But the rest is all me.

Every year I do NaNoWriMo for the words, but mostly to learn something about myself, and writing in general. The last couple of days I learned that I have created a pattern for myself to write, and that if I’m knocked out of that pattern it’s really hard for me to get back on track. This is a good thing in that with a pattern I am able to sit down and write more. It’s a bad thing because you can’t always perform the same ritual every time you sit down to do something and that shouldn’t stop you from doing it.

My ritual: Sit down at the computer, put on my headphones, turn on some chillstep, and open scrivener. The chillstep playlists I use don’t have words, and I’ve listened to them so many time that I can tune them out, but they also help me block out everything going on behind me. I write in the living room, so there are children on the TV, Gregg at his leather working station, and a general hubbub going on most of the time. Even when I write in other locations I will use my phone to play some chillstep while I write. The music gets me in the mood. (I highly suggest getting a musical soundtrack to anyone who wants writing to be a habit. You just have to find the one that suits you.)

The storm came through and power went out. I sat at work slowly watching the sun sink, the office getting darker and darker. About thirty minutes before the sun set completely the one loan emergency light in the office also died. The battery is only suppose to last long enough to get people out of the building, and no longer.

My co-worker and I had only one little flash light. My phone was on it’s last bit of juice so I couldn’t even use it as a flash light. I did manage to sneak out and get a couple candles, but two loan candles don’t really light up an office much.

When I got home to a dark house with no TV, no computer, and no chillstep, writing seemed the last of my worries. It’s amazing how much the lack of light really bothers a person after a while. At least it bothered me. We lit a bunch of candles, and started a fire, but after a while of sitting in the dark not even reading my kindles was enough to distract myself from the utter quiet.

I think that was the worst part. The realization that lack of sound really bothers me. Odd since I work in an office by myself and there is no sound except the near constant vehicles driving by outside for 80% of the time. Even odder since I spent most of my life separated from the rest of the world, with no sounds other than the wind whispering though the trees, and birds singing from the branches. I lived on a farm well before Pandora, MP3’s or even Walkman’s. Music was a luxury, not an expectation.

I like to think that half the reason I like noise when I get home is simply because I just spent eight hours in an office that was extremely quiet. It’s good to have some noise to remind me that I’m not alone. I have always associated noise with my children and SO being there in the house with me. When I went to bed alone I always slept better if I could hear the video game playing in the background because I knew where my husband was. Now it’s the soft “tap tap tap” of Gregg punching designs into leather. Noise reassures me because I know where my family is, and that everyone is safe. And I’m not alone.

So last night I tried to write. I pulled out a notebook, not unlike all the spiral binders I have tucked away in my closet with thousands of words written on them, and tried to write. I scratched out a couple of ideas, wrote down the names of a few characters and…nothing. No more then twenty words and my mind just kept focusing on the quiet. The emptiness. The darkness.

I had to get out of the house last night. We went to the supermarket and had some deli food, sititng in the little food court with a bunch of college students charging laptops and phones since the campus was out of power. The noise, light, and people made me feel better. But I still didn’t get any writing done last night.

So it’s the next day. The power came back about 1pm today, and I have my music and my computer. My family is behind me doing their individual things, and my music is half drowning them out.

So why is it so hard to write today? It’s a good question. Gregg said to stop focusing on the fact that I’m 4000 words behind, and just focus on the next 200. That’s doable, right?

200 words, here I come.

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Posted by on November 18, 2015 in NaNoWriMo, On Writing

 

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A warm up

It’s day five of NaNoWriMo and I am at 5716 words. That means I need to write 2600 words today (and this blog post doesn’t count.) Can I do it? I’m hoping for another 1000 words tonight honestly.

So why am I here, on a blog, instead of over in my scrivener writing my novel? Because I find it cathartic to clear my mind and talk to everyone before I go rushing off to write sometimes.

So what’s happening, besides NaNoWriMo? Gregg is finishing new leather projects and starting to take commissions. He’s finishing his second one tonight for a wallet with a radiation symbol on the front. It looks pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

I just got my Made By Mommy craft challenge box, and that’s due by the 24th of this month (am I crazy? I didn’t realize it was due so soon. I’m NUTS!) But I have a couple ideas and might work on those tomorrow in between word sprints.

And I haven’t done the Tuesday Talks or Wednesday top five this week because of NaNoWriMo. I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be able to do them this month because I am making writing a priority.

It’s been a great month, and I’m so happy with how much I’ve already gotten done in a week. I’m excited to see how far I can take this.

PS I’m a 6400 words now, and I have tomorrow to get in another 3000 words. I think I can handle that.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2015 in NaNoWriMo

 

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Won’t you take me to Funkytown?

This month has been less than stellar. It’s already the 9th and I’ve had two good days of writing, and couple days of no writing.

I think I know what’s causing it, or rather aggravating it at the moment. I’m under a great deal of stress from the rest of my life. This has put me in a kind of funk, and I hate it. I admit I’m prone to depression sometimes, and I’m not quite at that stage at the moment, but sometimes it does look a little bleak to my messed up brain chemistry.

I can’t tell anyone why that stress is (yet) but I can tell you I am taking measures to alleviate it. The solution isn’t an easy one, and it took me months to finally decide to do it, but my close friends who know about the situation agree that it is the best thing for me right now, and are being very supportive in the situation. I will let all of you know what happened, and what my choice to fix it was, as soon as things are fixed.

What does this mean for my writing?

It means I’m not writing as much as I’d like to, or need to, in order to finish the novels I had planned on time. NaNoWriMo is coming up soon and I was planning on writing a stand alone novel, “Awaken the Dragon”, but I don’t want to do that unless my Witch’s Trilogy is finished and on to the editor. As it is I am 50,000 words into a 80,000 word novel. I think I might end up using NaNoWriMo as a boost to get it finished.

After NaNoWriMo I planned to start working on my urban fantasy series, Eternal Tapestry, about goddesses in the modern day world. I still plan to do that. I have five novels already outlined for it, and some of them already have several thousand words of beats and chapters written. For 2016 I want to get at least four of them out. They are shorter novels, but fun to write, and not quite as difficult as the Witch’s trilogy has proven to be.

On other news I am moving all of my books (short stories and novels) off of other platforms and going strictly KDP. This means that you can get (almost) ALL of my books through Kindle Unlimited. It also means there will be several books coming up for free. I had been holding out on the Witch’s books since I wanted to put the first perma free once I got the third one done but it’s not doing anything while I wait for that to happen. Better to try KDP for a few months and see what happens.

I’ll try to have one free story every other weekend for a while. We’ll start with that and see what happens.

Also, if you haven’t seen my youtube channel yet here is a good opportunity. I decided to participate in Booktube more. It was an easy choice since I love to read, and I’m passionate about books. It’s also loads of fun. Who doesn’t like to talk about things they love?

If you’d like to see some of the episodes you can check that out here. There will still be the occasional vlog from Gregg and I, and there will also be Loot Crate unboxings, and other little things. But mostly it’s going to be about books I love to read and I think others will like too. I would love to see you guys in the comments. Tell me what books you love, or which characters you hated.

I’m also going to try… TRY… to be better about sending out newsletters. I’m terrible with it and I know, but I do want this to be a useful thing, not just sending notes in bottles so I feel like I need something to say, and with my publishing schedule I don’t have a lot to say very often.

To that end: do you have any questions? Concerns? Gripes? Let me know. It will give me something to talk about in the next newsletter.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2015 in On Writing, Updates

 

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Aaaaand DONE!

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileI finished writing 50,023 words for my book, “Mermaid’s Curse” at 8:35 am the morning of Nov 30th. I am kind of shocked that I was able to finish so early. Not only that, but I only had 1300 words to write that morning.

Every year that I’ve done NaNoWriMo before I’ve been faced with the last day rush to get words. 8000 one year, 10000 another. It got to the point where I just threw words at the page hoping to see what stuck later in editing, and most of it was terrible.

First drafts are suppose to be terrible. But it isn’t always good to feel like nothing you write has any value except words on a page either. When you’re so tired you are holding your eyes open with toothpicks, and your back and neck hurt from all the typing, all you want to do is curl into bed and sleep, that’s when your writing suffers the most.

So, this year I’m going to share what made a real difference. Why did this year feel different from every other year? And why doesn’t it feel like I am so exhausted and sick of writing that I can’t pick up the keyboard this month?

Practice and Reality

dataFor the last two years I’ve been trying to write every day. That hasn’t always worked. I could give you lots of excuses as to why this hasn’t always worked, and of course there are days when things came up, or I was sick, or there was a lot going on… But the truth is most of the days I failed to write I just didn’t feel like writing. I was lazy. I didn’t take my writing seriously enough.

In October, for the first time, I actually started realizing how important writing was to me. I wrote a bit about this earlier this month, and the two things that really seemed to help. This was my reality check. I had to decide this thing, this writing, was important to me. More important than the job I go to 5 days of the week. More important than video games, or board games, or long soaks in the tub. (not that I can give up or stop doing all of those things, just that I had to decide what was more important.)

Once I got the reality check I started practicing writing every day in earnest. That meant that when NaNoWriMo came along I was willing and able to take up my own challenge and slay some writers block demons. And do so with excitement because “This was my story, and I loved it, and I wanted to see it finished!”

Be prepared for distraction

Things will get in the way. My daughter made an unexpected trip home. There was Thanksgiving, and a day where I felt sick. I had a day when I was literally so exhausted I almost feel asleep at the keyboard.

These things are going to happen. Prepare for them. I did this by always striving for 2k a day from day one. I wrote 2k a day more than half of the month. That’s what allowed me to finish NaNoWriMo that morning without stressing over it. I only had 1300 words and two hours before work. No problem because I had already been putting in 2k a day most of the month. This morning it was just the pure excitement of “OMG I’M ALMOST DONE” that got me to do it so quickly.

Listen to your body

I had a few days where I couldn’t quite reach 2k for the day because I was so tired. Being tired does not help your writing. When I was exhausted I tended to write much slower, and the words I wrote were far more likely to be deleted the next day. The next morning I still had work, and I was still exhausted. When I got home that night I would get to write and find myself doing even worse than the day before.

About a week in I decided that I wasn’t going to play that merry game of chasing my tail anymore. Nope, time to listen to my body. My body said sleep, I was going to sleep, darn it, and forget about writing that day. Each time I got to about 400-500 words and started feeling my eyes start to droop I’d close the programs, turn off the PC, and go to bed. The next day I would almost always manage to get 2.5k words out in a few hours.

Small Steps

I also talked a bit here about how I would listen when my brain started to wander and then I’d go do something else. After a bit I’d come back and write some more.

I’ve learned that I can do about 500 words in thirty minutes. Then after a short break I could come back and do it all over again. Four thirty minute sessions got me the 2k words I wanted for the day.

They are small steps, each step carving out a little more of the story, sharing it. And adding it to the already piled up masses of FINISHED chapters.

Take Joy in Small Accomplishments

About a week and a half from the end of NaNoWriMo I started to have a few new challenges. I was getting to the point where I had lots of words, but nothing finished. The chapters were in pieces, with lots of connecting sentences that read “and they did this and this until this happened” before going on to the next scene that I had been able to write. I needed to finish those connecting pieces so that I had a complete chapter.

So I got out my scrivener file and I just sat down and started on page one. Working my way down the page I filled in all those little pieces, and after half an hour I had a finished chapter. I added a little asterisk to the title of that chapter and went onto the next chapter.

After a couple of days the asterisks started adding up. I am done with the first twelve chapters of Mermaid’s Curse 3, and the rest of them are mostly finished. Each time I added that asterisk that said “this is done, it just needs and edit” I felt buoyed and wanted to keep going. It was awesome.

Take joy in the small accomplishments, because they eventually add up.

I have about 15,000 words to go to complete this novel, and then I will have a completed trilogy to send off to the editor. I think I’m incredibly excited! NaNoWriMo was a success for me!

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in NaNoWriMo, On Writing, Updates, Writers Block

 

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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.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2014 in NaNoWriMo

 

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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.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2014 in NaNoWriMo

 

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NaNoWriMo day 10

data1I love this book!

Maybe it’s just that I love that my attitude toward writing has shifted so much, and that I finally, FINALLY, feel like I can do this.

So here is my data for the month so far. Notice day five with the almost 500 words. I was exhausted that day with lots of things going on, and at about 1am just decided sleep was better then forcing myself to keep going. So I went to bed. And the very next day I wrote almost 2500 words.

But the really awesome part? Day five when I was exhausted, mentally and emotionally, and I just didn’t want to look at the computer any more let alone keep my eyes open… My worst day this month so far was better then my best day most of the rest of the year.

For the last year I had been trying to get my daily word count to 500-1000. It ended up being between 300 and 500. But now? This month? It’s 1600 and holding strong. In fact if you get rid of that one 500 word day my daily average is 1800 words. And I am loving it!

Why the change?

I think two things have really helped me change. First of all, I read 2k to 10k last month. While I had heard her talk about many of the things that helped her get to 10k words a day, for some reason reading it made a couple things click. A big thing was the plotting. When you get stuck take out some paper (or in my case I just switch to red text on the PC) and jot down notes of what you want to happen in that chapter. I’ve been doing a lot more of that. But she also talked about having fun with your writing. Enjoying it. After all, if you find it boring and tedious so is your reader.

The second was an interview with Dean Wesly Smith on Rocking Self Publishing. He kept going on about how much he loved writing, and how it wasn’t work, it was play. Then he said one summer he had to dig ditches on a golf course in the blistering heat. That was work. Making up worlds isn’t work, digging ditches is.

I’ve dug ditches before. I fed farm animals, plowed fields, mucked out horse stalls, and everything else you can think of on a farm. I’ve changed lots of dirty diapers, and wiped the snot off little kids noses for years on end. That was work. All of that was work.

Writing? It’s fun. It’s still a lot of time and effort, but it’s fun effort. And it’s worth it. I love it.

That change in attitude right there is really what got my word count up. And I think I’ll keep it come next month and the end of NaNoWriMo.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2014 in On Writing

 

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