Thank You, NaNoWriMo

Hello, writers!  As I’m sure you know, today is the first day of December.  Another NaNoWriMo is here and gone.

To wrap up this year’s November, I thought it would be appropriate to write an open letter to the entity that is NaNoWriMo.  (Okay, it’s more like a thank you note.  It’ll be fun, I promise.)

Dear NaNoWriMo,

Thank you for the yearly challenge to try something crazy.  Your dare is irresistible, and your community is so welcoming that I can never say no.

Thank you for helping me expand my mug and T-shirt collections.

Thank you for a third year running, and a “lifetime wordcount” (from three novembers) of over 95,000 words.

Thank you for connecting me to a couple writers in my area and many many writers online.  For building a community of support and friendly competition and cheering each other on.

Thank you for reminding me that I can fit writing in my busy everyday life.  And also for letting me have space to focus on homework when I needed to.

I may not have hit 50,000 words this year.  (That was so 2015.)  But I did make friends, and cheer people on, and introduce myself to a new story, and meet unexpected characters, and have a blast writing and planning and being a writer.

I’ll win again some other year, but for now, I have a novel to finish writing.  And another one I want to get back to editing.  I’ll see you next year.

 

// alright, lovely writers.  I’m off to take a nap for about four years.  I’m a bit exhausted from a million papers and 25,000 words.  I’ll see you next week. //

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Thoughts During NaNoWriMo

I wrote similar post to this two years ago, and it was a lot of fun.  (Find it here.)  So, even though I’m very very very behind on my word count, I thought it was time for another fun blog post.  Best of luck to my fellow Wrimos – I hope your writing is going amazing.

Without further ado, here are some Thoughts I Have During NaNoWriMo:

  • Time to make coffee!  And write!  WOOO!
  • I like this novel I’m writing.  I really, really, do.
  • You know, I should clear my browser history
  • Okay, hopefully my professor isn’t going to notice me writing in class instead of taking notes
  • Sleep? What’s that?
  • WHERE DID THIS CHARACTER COME FROM?
  • Just one more cup of coffee
  • I want to be a paid, published author. I want that as my job.
  • Why does every single professor assign us an enormous paper that’s due during November?  Don’t they know we’re all over here trying to write novels?
  • Wait.  This character is going to have to die, aren’t they?  Darn it.
  • Come on, Beth.  Get off twitter.  Go write.  Hehehe, that’s funny, I should re-tweet that.
  • Social Life?  Huh?
  • Wait… staring at a blank page doesn’t get my novel written?
  • I want there to be write-ins year round.  Write-Ins are EVERYTHING.
  • Also, word sprints are great.
  • THIS PERSON.  BEAT ME.  IN A WORD SPRINT.  BY THREE WORDS.
  • I’m not going to hit 50k this year, am I?  *sigh*
  • Just.  Keep.  Writing.
  • It’s okay, I can always finish this novel in December… hehehe.

Don’t forget to blare some Christmas music, drink some hot cocoa, and get to writing.  Your story matters, and it’s gonna be great!

Three Lovely Things

November is two-thirds over, and I am only halfway done with my NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words.  But despite that, it has been a month of many wonderful and special moments so far.  I’d like to share some of my favorites with you, if that’s alright.

1.  Monday // 11:24 pm // My Dorm

Sitting in my room, writing a story that I’m falling in love with.  I’ve just hit 25,000 words on my NaNoWriMo story (only 5 days behind schedule lol).  I’m checking out @NaNoWordSprints on twitter, seeing if they’re running sprints so that I can use some friendly competition to fuel my writing.  They ask us how we’re doing, and ask us to share a graph of our wordcount for the month.  (Here’s mine, by the way!)

my wordcount

So we all screenshot our graphs, and post them in a reply, and then there’s this glorious thread of graphs and writers and people cheering each other on.

2.  Nov 15 // All Day // My College Campus

November 15, 2017 was my best writing day.  Ever.  I wrote 4,200 words that day.  I got up in the morning and wrote.  Then one of my classes was cancelled so I wrote.  I brought my laptop to lunch and wrote at the dining hall.  I brought my laptop to the library and wrote all afternoon.

And as the day went by, I fell head-over-heels in love with writing again.  The feeling of a story seeping out of you through your fingertips and onto a page.  The thought of giving life to characters and plot ideas that you’ve hoarded in your head.  The thrill of a new character popping up unexpectedly and rocking your world in the best way possible.

3.  Days I Can’t Write // Days I Can

Let me be honest, folks.  I’m a full-time college student.  I’m taking 18 credits this semester (for my wonderful non-American readers, the ‘typical’ course load is 15 credits).  The end of the semester approaches, which means papers and tests and more papers are swarming me.

The days I spend 4 hours writing 1700 words for a British Literature paper?  I’m done writing for the day.  I have nothing left to give to my novel for that day.  And that’s okay.  But, NaNoWriMo has been reminding me of something essentially important: writers write.  Especially when I’m working on a big project, like a rough draft or a big edit, I need to put in the hours.  Many hours.  It’s okay to take days off, but they should be rare and they should be followed by many more days working.  And when I do that, writing may still be hard and difficult at times, but there are just as many times when it is pure magic.

ROUGH DRAFTS

Today is Day 5 of NaNoWriMo.  I’ve eaten a lot of gummy bears, drank a bit too much coffee, and written not nearly enough words.  But I’ve having a ton of fun and I’m falling in love with the story I’m writing.  I’m remembering why I’m a writer: I love writing.

However, there’s something I have to remember as I write a rough draft for the first time in, like, two years.  (I’m not counting the half-completed, abandoned writing projects I’ve worked on since then.)

Here’s the thing:  I’ve spent the last six months/ year working on EDITING a novel.  And the idea with re-writing/editing a novel is that you take this horrible lump of story and make it into something that doesn’t entirely suck.  You have a fairly high standard for the quality of the narrative, because it’s a SECOND or THIRD draft.

But when you write a rough draft of a story, it is supposed to suck.

So this is your reminder that you are allowed to have an awful, horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad rough draft.  That’s what rough drafts are.  I just re-discovered this video today by Actual Published Author, Maureen Johnson, and I thought it was a fitting sentiment for NaNo.  Enjoy.

 

In addition, my Brit Lit professor recommended this phenomenal article for us to read.  (There’s a tiny bit of language, but it’s well worth the read.)

I’m sending you all creative vibes as you write or edit or rest this month.  Remember that the rough draft is just you telling yourself the story.  Feel free to friend me on NaNoWriMo; my username is SharpieBeth.  See you all next week!

Last Minute NaNoPrep

Hello, friends near and far!  I’m back from my October Hiatus.  It was really lovely to have some time off from blogging.  I didn’t get quite as much editing done as I’d have liked, but I have done a lot of plotting for my newest story!

Yes, that’s right: the story I’m going to be writing in November.  As November 1st is literally right around the corner, here’s some last-minute suggestions for NaNoPrep.  Other bloggers and writers and twitter users-have been throwing around NaNoPrep ideas all month long, so I thought I’d join before #Preptober was entirely over.  Ya know, for the writers out there who are frantically plotting and planning as the last hours before November 1st tick by.

the clock is ticking

 

1. Write a Synopsis

On the NaNoWriMo website, there’s a place for you to add a synopsis to your novel.  I found that writing a super brief (and not very good) synopsis helped me feel more prepared for November.  Here’s my synopsis if you’re interested:

Lewis Montgomery is fourteen hours from home.  He doesn’t know anyone, and he’s not even sure what building his first class is in tomorrow – and the lights in the bathroom keep flickering.  Transitioning into adulthood has enough challenges, but add in disappearances and creatures that only he can see, and Lewis begins to think he’s going mad.

Katie Atwood is psyched to be a sophomore.  She knows this campus like the back of her hand, and she’s ready for a non-eventful year full of studying and reading.  Then Lewis sits next to her in bio class, and the world goes to hell.  Strange happenings seem to follow this boy like a shadow, and Katie’s not sure if she wants to stick around to find out what’s really happening.

A college campus, some non-human beings, and a boy and a girl who remain platonic friends.

Okay, so that’s a very bad synopsis.  I haven’t written the book yet (duh), but that will give you a general idea.

 

2. Design a Cover

On the NaNoWriMo website, there’a also a place to upload a cover for your novel.  (Obviously, if you traditionally publish, you don’t get to create your own real cover for your novel.)  It’s a lot of fun to have a picture to go with your ideas.  It also helps you visualize your novel as an actual, completed, shelf-ready book – instead of just a bunch of random ideas floating around in your head.

book cover 8

 

3. Make a Playlist (or three)

Y’all know the drill.  If you write to music, a great way to feel ready for NaNoWriMo (that doesn’t require too much brain power) is to create a writing playlist or two.  Or three.  Sometimes it’s helpful to create a couple, each with a different mood.  (“Angsty music,” “epic battle sequence,” “sad music,” etc etc.)

hairbrush

[if you don’t understand this gif, then feel free to unsubscribe.  Just kidding, please don’t.  Rather, do a Google search for “Veggie Tales,” and educated yourself.]

 

4. Goal, Motivation, and Conflict

This is perhaps the most important.  There’s a snazzy writing book out there called GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.  Confession: I’ve never read the book.  HOWEVER, I love the idea: each character needs a goal, a reason for wanting that goal, and something that stands in their way of achieving it.  The best characters are active characters: they’re working towards something throughout the story.  They make things happen.  (As opposed to passive characters, who just kinda react to events that happen to them.)  So part of planning my novel is figuring out what my main characters want, why they want it, and what is hindering them.  Goal, motivation, and Conflict.

Good luck!  Follow me on NaNoWriMo (username: SharpieBeth) and follow my progress!  If you’re also doing NaNo, I’d love to hear your last-minute NaNoPrep tips!

Do a Time-Sprint

Kinda a mini-post today.  Featuring overly excited words, Doctor Who gifs, and not a ton of content.  Enjoy!


GUYS GUYS GUYS!  Y’all know how much I love NaNoWriMo, right?  Well, here’s a reason to love them even more.

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They just launched a new feature on their website called Goal Trackers.  You know how in November, there’s this shiny graph and tracker that tells you your stats for the novel you’re writing? Well, now there’s a tool that you can use year-round: the Goal Tracker.  You can set your goal to be in either words or hours, and your goal doesn’t have to be just for one month – it can be anything from a day to three months!  Here’s what mine looks like:

nano tracker

So, since my current project is a re-write – and since it’s super messy to measure the word count on a re-write – I love the fact that I can have my goal be in hours instead of words.

Here’s the thing: If I only track words, that doesn’t count my brainstorming or plotting or editing or whatever else.  I like that the method of tracking hours give me credit for all my work – not just for the number of words I’ve written.  You feel me?

So.  The last several writing days, I’ve pulled out my phone, set my stopwatch, and started noveling!  Who knew logging hours could be so fun?

There’s just something really rewarding about getting to put in numbers for things you’ve accomplished.  Since novels are such big projects, it’s hard to quantify how much progress you’ve made in a day or a week or a month.  And this is especially true with re-writes.  But if I can log hours spent, that’s definitive progress and it feels like a little victory each day.

Also, I’ve overall just found that some way of keeping track of my writing is always helpful.  It keeps me more mindful of when I’m writing a lot and when I’m really not.  And I like it a lot better when I’m writing more.

So, if you can squeeze in 5 or 10 minutes today, set your stopwatch and get to work.  Say, “I’m taking 15 minutes to do nothing but novel.”  It’s a lot of fun.  The clock is ticking.

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Anyways!  Do you lovely folks use anything to track your writing goals or progress?  Do you find that it helps?  Let me know in the comments!  Also, let me know if you’ve checked out NaNo’s Goal Tracker, and what you thought of it.

P.S. I’m not actually sure how new this feature is.  It might be like 6 months old.  But it’s the first time I’ve seen it, and I really really like it.

P.P.S. Sorry for the Doctor Who gifs?  Sorry not sorry.