NaNoWriMo Day 1

The Words: 2577 words total for the day. I almost always start at midnight on Nov. 1 (in my 11 years of doing NaNo, I think I’ve only not done this twice), but I was in a car at midnight. Fortunately, I’d thought ahead to the possibility of not being home and had my Neo with me. Though I thought I’d be inside somewhere. It still worked….not well, because it was dark, and while I thought that would be fine, because of the no-editing rule, sometimes I couldn’t even remember what the last word I’d written was. Or when I inevitably did go back and erase something out of habit, I wouldn’t know if I’d gotten it all. That will be the most error-filled 700 words of the entire novel at the end of this. But I digress.

I wrote another 700 words when I got home, during a word sprint started on the Twitter feed of @NaNoWordSprints, and went to bed with the smallest midnight-sprint word count I’ve had in 8 years. But I was content with my number. I wrote another thousand words this afternoon to get to the number above.

I often set my daily goal higher than the normal minimum, because it’s important to me that I finish the draft of the novel before the motivation of the month disappears. Unfortunately, I never know how long the draft will actually be. I’m guessing around 75k this year, so my daily goal is 2500 words. And because I also don’t want to finish the draft too early in the month, I’m going to stop at 2500 as often as I can (sometimes I just get the urge to keep going, ya know?). It’s a delicate balance, trying to come to the end of the draft right at the end of the month, considering I don’t estimate my total draft lengths very well. But I’ll re-evaluate halfway through the month or so and raise or lower the word count if/as necessary.

My daily updates aren’t usually this lengthy; I just had a lot to explain today.

The Story: Even though I tried to think ahead about how to start this novel for the last few days, when the time came to begin, nothing really felt right. I stumbled through the opening scene and then dove into the beginning of one of the 4 storylines that will comprise this novel. And then between writing sessions, I thought about a way the opening scene might be better, so I wrote a note to myself for future editing. I don’t want to start re-writing scenes already, so I’ll worry about it later.

Total word count: 2577

For almost as long as I’ve been blogging about how NaNo is going all through the month of November, I’ve been sharing each day’s NaNoToon. Sadly, NaNoToons ended last year. Rather than give up that tradition, I’m going to start going back through them, starting with the first year there was a storyline through the month. So for today, if you want to join me, check out the NaNoToon from November 1, 2010!
And in honor of November 1st, because it is absolutely not NaNoWriMo without the NaNoMusical, here is episode 1!

NaNoWriMo Eve

NaNo handouts

NaNoWriMo starts in 12 hours where I am. This month, known by many as Preptober, was much less full of prep than I planned. This was mostly due to a combination of working on final edits for my first full-novel release that is due out on January 10th and feeling like I could push off the prep work, because I’d already made an outline for my NaNoNovel a few months ago.

I did finally spend some time Monday and Tuesday this week looking over the outline, as well as the outline for the book that precedes it (it’s drafted, but had to be re-outlined due to a lot of changes needed). I re-read character interviews and wrote a new one with some brand new characters.

I am not sure I am 100% ready, and actually hope to look over the outline again at some point today, before midnight. But I do know that, if necessary, I have enough to get started. I’ll be starting right at midnight (known as the midnight sprint). I do that every year, and whether I write 500 words or 3000 words, anything I get done before going to bed is a huge mental jump start on the month!

And fair warning: I will blog every day about my experience doing NaNoWriMo. I’ve done this nearly every year since starting this blog (the only exception was the year that I had just started full-time at a very demanding job, and what I was writing for NaNo that year was a difficult, personal subject, so frankly, I was doing good to even reach 50k that year).

There may be those who are curious about how others get through the month–I know I am, and most days I also spend some time reading blog posts by others about how their writing went that day. I have also found that I really enjoy being able to look back in later years and read about my progress through the month.

I will also share each day’s NaNoToons, which incidentally will be the last year for NaNoToons. (In fact, the first one for this year just went up! I’m so excited!!) And I’ll post episodes from the NaNoMusical throughout the month, because it’s one of the best things to come out of NaNoWriMo ever, and every Wrimo needs to know about it!

I wish my fellow Wrimos well, and hope to hear from some of you during the month! Please feel free to add me as a writing buddy!

Are you ready for NaNo to begin? Do you plan to do the midnight sprint tonight?

On the Eve of NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo starts in 4 hours where I am. It has been a hard-fought month of prep for me. For one thing, I was just getting myself back to a place where I could work on my writing regularly again at the beginning of the month. I got back into the swing of posting every day to hold myself accountable to doing some form of writing work each day.

There were 3 main things I wanted to do before November came:
1. Clean my main writing space.
2. Post a synopsis for my novel, along with 2-3 other posts about NaNo, writing in general, and my other novels.
3. Make a solid outline for my NaNoNovel.

Then I got sick. And let’s see how my plans worked out?

1. I did get this done, just today. Initially, my husband and I planned to clean more around my writing space too, but today, he said, “What do you want done, bare minimum?” So now my work desk is cleaned off, so I can put aside work things and focus on writing more easily, and I have even organized various papers, notebooks, and scrapbooking things into a filing cabinet that I’ve had for a while, but was too lazy to do much with.

2. This post is a compromise for me…I had more detail I wanted to share about things I learned during my prep time this month, but some of it has actually sort of been watered down in my mind by snags that came after the exciting moments. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but that’s okay. Once I get past the first few scary days of November, and hopefully past this flu (I’m just guessing it’s the flu, but it tracks), I will still post some of the other things I wanted to share, but there’s one that will probably never be written (titled “Planners are Cheaters,” by the way).

3. And then there’s my NaNoNovel…The novel I’ve planned to write next month will delve into the mind of someone more broken and dark than any characters I’ve written about so far.  It’s not the first time I’ve planned to write something out of my comfort zone. Two years ago, I wrote 2 murder-mystery themed stories, which was a first for me. Last year, I wrote about the time my dad spent in the hospital for 3 weeks in September of that year. Writing like that was very different for me.

However, the shape and form of this novel has changed pretty drastically about 100 times since I started planning it 3 weeks ago. I have been concerned for most of those 3 weeks that I won’t be ready in time. I don’t need a long, detailed outline, sheets on every character, note cards, or any other such degree of planning. But I wasn’t even sure I would have a broad outline, and I can’t stress this enough–I am not a pantser. (I’ve tried.)

Fortunately, just yesterday, I finished a 2-page, handwritten outline. When I say “finished”…well, I got as far as I could without knowing where the writing will take me. I often (not always, but often) will write 2/3 of an outline, and then start writing, because I’m not even sure what is going to happen next, but I have good reason to believe that the actual writing will bring out the rest. This outline covers about half, maybe more, of the story. The other half(ish) of the story has a fairly solid timeline to help me know that broad plot points.

I’ve decided that I can’t post a synopsis for my story though, at least not more than the early one I already did. The story is still too much of a mystery to me, so much that I can’t even say what the true “main story” is going to be until I write it. This one’s going to be a fun one to edit, I think…

Okay, now looking ahead to tonight, and the rest of the month, I have two key things I want to say:
1. I will be starting right at midnight. I do that every year, and whether I write 500 words or 3000 words, anything I get done before going to bed is a huge mental jump start on the month!

2. I will blog every day about my experience doing NaNoWriMo. This will be the third year I’ve done this, since starting my blog (2014 and 2015). There may be those who are curious about how others get through the month (I know I am). I have also found that I really enjoy being able to look back in later years and read about my progress through the month. And since I already post here every day that I got any writing work done, as a way of staying accountable, it’s not much of a stretch.

I have not yet heard for sure whether or not we will have new NaNoToons this year, but if so, I will share those every day. (If not, maybe I’ll go back and share them from an earlier year!) I will also post episodes from the NaNoMusical throughout the month, because I still love it to pieces and can’t not try to get others to love it too!

I wish my fellow Wrimos well, and hope to hear from some of you during the month!

Are you ready for NaNo to begin? Do you plan to do the midnight sprint tonight?

NaNoWriMo Eve

NaNoWriMo has been on my brain since September. I’ve been posting about it since September, planning my novel throughout the last month, and talking about it enough to drive some family members nuts. And now it’s here.

Last year, the first year I had this blog, I posted daily updates about my progress through NaNo. I posted about my word count for the day, as well as when or how I’d gone about writing them. I also shared a little about the progress of my novel, though since that novel was one I hope to publish someday, I was vague about some of the details.

I plan to do the same thing again this year. I am not trying to inflate my ego or shame anyone who may not have as many words as I do (assuming, of course, that the month is going well enough for either of these to be applicable). I’m sharing my daily progress for anyone who may be curious about how others go about doing NaNo, or how others fit the writing into their lives. And so I can share anything new I’m learning about NaNo or writing as it happens. I’m also going to share because I like being able to look back a year later and see how the story shaped up. Or remind myself of those new things I learned along the way. And because I’m already in the habit of posting here every day that I’ve done some writing work.

Now and then I may even offer more tips (on top of the many I’ve already shared) that I didn’t think about until the month started, or that I’ve just picked up myself. However, I know some people get annoyed when people post about their word count often, so if you’re one of those, by all means, don’t read my posts over the next month. I won’t be offended.

I plan to spend all day tomorrow writing, from midnight to midnight. I’ve never done this before, usually just stick to the midnight sprint (get as many words in from midnight until you go to bed) and a normal day after, but I decided to try it. I’ve often wondered if I could pull of the 50k1day, but I don’t want to exhaust myself physically, mentally, or creatively. 2000 words per hour could easily do that.

So I’m aiming for more like 25k words, but even then, I’m not going to stick to it strictly. This will be my last chance to try something like this until Nov. 1 falls on a weekend again in the year 2020, so I’m going for it. I’ve created a spreadsheet that I’m going to update hourly with my word count, in case anyone feels like checking in at any point throughout the day.

As for the rest of the month, I usually keep my head down and focus only on my writing during November, but last year, I was involved in a Skype chat group for my region. The mutual encouragement in there (and word wars) was a great new depth to NaNo that I really enjoyed!

Please feel free to add me as a writing buddy. Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back. If you need encouragement throughout the month, give me a shout somehow and I’ll do my best to provide some!

nano word count totalAre you ready for NaNo to begin? Do you plan to do the midnight sprint tonight?

Tips for NaNoWriMo, Part 2


Happy October! For those of us who are planning to participate in NaNoWriMo, October should be a very important month. (And I see by the WordPress Reader under the tag of NaNoWriMo that I am not alone in this thinking. Seriously, for the last month, I’ve been obsessively reading every post on WordPress that has been tagged as such, and it really exploded today!) There is a lot to prepare in advance, and I don’t just mean the story. Let’s face it, planning a story is only part of what one should to do prepare for NaNo.

Today, I’m going to share some more tips for what you could do throughout this month to make sure you’re ready to write on November 1st.

A few weeks ago, I shared some ideas for these pre-NaNo months that could help anyone who was planning to participate get ready. All of those tips still work for this month too. Honestly, if you’re new to NaNoWriMo especially, I suggest you learn what works for you now, because you’re not going to want to spend your first few days of writing trying to figure out where the best place is to write, or when you can get to it, or other things like that.

1. Consumables
NaNoWriMo is not the time for sleep. Caffeine can be a crucial ingredient for the month, so make sure you’re stocked up on your favorite poison. I don’t care for coffee, so I usually drink cappuccino (the kind from a powder). I drink iced tea, even in cold months, but it’s normally decaf. Last year someone suggested switching to regular tea for November, so I may try that too. But for my birthday this year, I got a Keurig machine. Strange for someone who doesn’t like coffee, I know, but since I discovered that I rather enjoy flavored coffees, I’ve gone kind of crazy for it. So I have a lot of that stocked up for November.

More than beverages, though, many people find that they want to snack more during NaNoWriMo. I know not everyone is as self-indulgent as I, so if you’re more health conscious, you may want to skip the chocolate. Personally, though, I have plans to go to some stores on November 1 in the afternoon and buy up a bunch of post-Halloween-sale candy. Chips are also a staple for some, or any other snack-type foods you like.

2. Writing Tools
This may seem kind of obvious, but there are plenty of things that you may assume you’d remember, or you’d have available, but won’t be able to find when the time comes. Make sure you have any notebooks you may need, pens or pencils, binders, planners, whatever physical items you use for writing. Put them all in one place and even contained in a transportable bag, box, etc. if your location for writing tends to change (either within the house or to coffee shops, library, or friend’s house). I would advise that even if you are a true computer writer and don’t use pen/paper for any stage of writing that you still carry a notebook and pen or pencil with you during November. It’s a good back up in case anything goes wrong with electronic devices, and this is not a time to risk that.

In the virtual sense, make sure you know what programs or apps you want to use and have them on any computers or devices you may use. If you’ve heard a lot about a program but haven’t tried it yet (like Scrivener or Evernote), download it now and play around with it before November. During NaNoWriMo is no time to be trying to learn a new software. I have some more virtual tools that I use for writing that I’ll share during the rest of this month too.

3. Writing Buddies
I’ve mentioned before that now is the time to be finding your home region on the NaNoWriMo website. More than that, this is a good time to start scheduling your month for local events, if you can make it to those. I won’t say that it’s a necessity to attend, as I would be a hypocrite if I did. I’ve never been to a write-in, just the last few years’ kick-off parties. Write-ins are usually 45 minutes away, and I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, so it’s hard to get away. This year, though, my local library, which is about 5 minutes away, is going to have weekly write-ins, so I’m working out plans to at least go to the first one and see how it goes.

Whether you go to in-person events or not, it can be nice to connect with others in your area, even if only online. Introduce yourself in the forums, see if there is an online chat you can join in on, and just be part of the community. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the community if you let yourself, which is why I mostly stick to my region’s forums, and don’t venture much into the main forums.

Something else to be thinking about now is how you might best go about doing some word wars once November starts. (Word wars are where you and at least one other person agree on a set amount of time, usually 10-15 minutes, start writing at the same time, and compare your word count at the end.) Last year I was part of my first word wars, and let me tell you, they are very motivating. They were all virtual, taking place over Skype in a group some people from my region created. Almost every day there were word wars going on in the evening, and most of the Wrimos who were there regularly finished NaNo at least a week early, citing word wars as the reason why.

If you know people in person who are also doing NaNo, they’d be the obvious choice for word war competitors. However, you can usually find someone to go head-to-head with in your region, at write-ins esp, or if all else fails, there’s a forum for that:

4. Involve Other Senses
So number 1 kind of covered taste, but that’s not really what I mean. I’ve mentioned in a previous post about how the time leading up to November is a great time to discover what kind of writing atmosphere you need (if you don’t already know). Do you require absolute silence? Some kind of white noise? Music? The last one is what I’m referring to right now.

Some people create a playlist for every story. I’ve read about people who will find music that matches the theme of their story, make a playlist from it (even if just on YouTube), and listen to it all month. Then, when November is over and they want to go back later and either finish the novel or revise it, they can listen to that music again, and it will put them right back in the mood. I’ve never done this, I think because music doesn’t work that way in my head. Or maybe it’s because I’m too lazy to spend time tracking down what music would fit my novel (though this year, I may just have the perfect music, given the subject matter).

One year, I did spend the whole month going back and forth between these two playlists: D&E NaNo songs, NaNoMusical songs

Whatever your taste in music is, an alternative to creating an audio scene for your story is creating an olfactory scene. Scent memory is said to be very powerful. Go to the store and smell all the candles or all the scented wax (if you have or are willing to buy the wax melter to go with it). Think of your story, what it’s about, where it’s set, who the main character(s) is/are. Is it a romance? Maybe something flowery or sensual. Is it set in a tropical location? Something with coconut or tropical fruit, perhaps. There are outdoor scents if your story involves a lot of forest or other outdoor scenes. Not every story lends itself easily to a scent, but pick something that smells right and have it burning/melting near you while you write all month. Then later, you may just be able to immerse yourself back into the book by activating that scent again.

5. To Sprint or Not To Sprint
NaNoWriMo begins at midnight on November 1. This year, that falls on Saturday night/Sunday morning. If you’re the kind who stays up late, or can make an exception for one night, you can start writing right at midnight and get some words under your belt before going to bed. It’s purely a mental trick, getting a jump start on the day’s word count, but many people love to do the midnight sprint.

If you read my first Tips post, hopefully you have been getting used to how you like to write–what format you prefer, what items you’ll need, what kind of writing environment you desire. If not, there is still time to do that. The best advice I can give is to start writing every day right now. Whether that writing is pre-writing for your NaNoNovel (brainstorming, outlining, character creation) or just free writing to get in the habit, it’s a great idea to warm up before November starts, and not jump in cold.

Are you considering NaNoWriMo? Give me a shout if you’re participating, and share what you do in October to get ready. Feel free to add me as a buddy on the site, though let me know you came from here somehow.