Weekly Musing: NaNo Check-in #2

First official week of NaNo is under my belt and it was a roller coaster experience.

Day 1: This day was hectic mostly due to personal reasons but I got my writing in. I barely exceeded the advised daily average of 1,667 by 11 words. Cool and at least I’m on target.

I went to the kick-off meeting in my area and enjoyed it. Although I was quite tired by that time of day, I was happy to bring what I’d been working on. The kick-off meeting consisted of introducing ourselves and describing what we were planning on writing and any other information we wanted to volunteer. After introductions, our ML (Municipal Liaison) had as an ice-breaker a game where we had to talk to each person there and figure out if we at least one read book in common. The catch was we couldn’t use the same book with anyone else.

After that game, we did an exercise that I saw as very beneficial. On a notecard we were encouraged to either draw our Inner Editor (or Heckler as one guy referred to it) or write down phrases it says to us as we are writing. We then put that notecard into an envelope and sealed it with instructions to not open it up until after NaNo. It’s a symbolic gesture. For the month of November, that evil, evil little bastard is supposed to go somewhere. I hope to die a horrible fiery death.

After our notecard Inner Editor/Heckler banning, we wrote for an hour. Some of us, like me, were lost in our own world while others socialized in between paragraphs. I went home exhausted but I had gotten in my personal daily goal of 3 hours in.

Day 2: It was a bit of a disaster for me. The scope and breadth of what I wanted to write got to me. I had everything somewhat plotted out, my character sheets ready to go, 2 years of planning, and I choked. I absolutely hated what I had written the day before. It didn’t feel like it was enough and not where I wanted to start the book.

That’s when it went downhill.

I went to a write-in at a local library not knowing what to expect. A nice little group of about 10 people showed up. Some I recognized from the night before. Again we did introductions but then we talked about writing, how many NaNos we had done, how day 1 went, etc.

Then we got down to writing. We decided as a group to do word wars. Being new to all of this, I didn’t know what a word war was. A timer is set and you write as many words as you can in that time. That first five minutes, my brain froze as I decided I wanted to redo what I had written on day 1. That’s a big NaNo no-no. And it showed. I managed to only keep 3 words which wasn’t a sentence of 3 words, just 3 words. We did more 5 minute word wars then expanded the time to 10 minutes. In total, I only wrote about 600 words that day.

I decided that format wasn’t the correct environment for me. Small bursts of writing with periods of socializing in between didn’t bode well for my brain. I need time to just stare off into space to collect my thoughts then write.

I went home quite, quite dejected. I had a full on meltdown, crying to my husband that I wasn’t cut out for this and perhaps writing novels isn’t what I’m meant to do. He pointed out that perhaps the project I wanted to do isn’t appropriate for a timeframe like NaNo. We talked some more and I bounced the idea of starting with a different novel altogether. He thought that might be a good idea, a way to clear my head and gain energy. The biggest help he provided was helping me realize that since I’ve never written a novel before, I should be using NaNo as a way to learn what writing one feels like. Epiphany time!

Days 3 – 7: I did something which could be considered another NaNo no-no and that was to start a new project. Not only is it a new project but a different genre. I switched from historical fiction to fantasy, a genre in which I have dabbled in. The only thing I was certain about was my main character who was one I has used in a short story but had always been curious to know more about. I wanted to explore more of her background, who and what shaped her before the short story I wrote about her took place. Sounded like a perfect NaNo project.

Since that decision, I have been able to write with that sense of enthusiasm and abandon NaNo encourages. And my daily word count has increased. That’s not to say I haven’t had some moments of ‘What now?’ but the creative juices are flowing. Of course, daily rewards of candy help, too.

Here’s hoping next week is just as productive. I have a crazy idea of doing some marathon writing this weekend. 6 hours each day on Saturday and Sunday. Here’s to lots and lots of caffeine and excessive word counts!

Happy NaNo!


Weekly Musing: NaNo Check-in #1

Ahhh, so NaNo has officially started! This week leading up to November 1st has been one filled with anxiety, fear, and self-doubt because of the realization of what I am about to embark upon. A novel. At least 50,000 words. In 30 days. Needless to say a lot of this week trying to figure out if what I’m doing is the right thing.

My original intention this week was to prep for November 1st. What that looked like consisted of quasi-finalizing an outline, review my notes, and dust off the tri-fold board which serves as a brief timeline of events I want to incorporate into my novel. All the organizational stuff to satisfy my efficient personality. But the internal struggle of ‘Now I have to sit down and write the damn thing’ kicked in and took over.

Sure I got some things done. I tried something different and instead of prepping an extensive outline, I did a one page synopsis of what each of my main character’s story is. I included how their story starts, briefly what will happen to them, and what the ending looked like for each of them. Another thing I got done was to put into a folder maps of Wales and England, character sheets for my main characters, printed off scene ideas, and organized my notebooks of research. I also dusted off some of the research stored on EverNote and downloaded the app for my phone.

Even with the prepping, I couldn’t ease my mind. It’s a daunting task and I know I’m not ready for it. I spent a good portion of Halloween looking at NaNo’s website as a way of calming myself down and to get inspiration.

One of the best threads was about rewarding yourself as you go along. Many people were going to do daily rewards for hitting their word count. Candy was a popular one. Others planned on rewarding themselves with video game time, going to a movie, knitting, spending time with friends and family, etc.

I hadn’t thought about doing this but it makes a lot of sense. My goal isn’t so much a word count but time spent writing. One of the biggest things I’ve struggled with this year is the amount of time I’m physically writing. My goal is to write 3 hours each day. If I reach that, I get a piece of leftover Halloween candy. For every 5,000 words I hit, I’ll play a few hours of BioShock Infinite. When I’ve hit 25,000 words, I’ll pick something small from the shop on NaNo’s website and treat myself to a nice lunch. When I hit the big 50,000 word count, I’ll take myself out to a nice dinner and get myself something else from NaNo’s store. The extra kicker will be if I’m finished with the novel at that point, I get an extra special reward. If the novel isn’t finished, though, then that’s okay and when it is finished, I’ll give myself that extra special reward then.

November 1st finally arrived and it was a busy, busy day. I managed to squeeze in time to write between cleaning my house for potential buyers and generally trying to recover from being sick the past few days. I was exhausted by the time of the NaNo kick-off meeting held at a local library yet excited.

It was a small group, about a dozen people gathered on a Friday night. The group ranged in age from late teens/early 20s to a retiree. Everyone introduced himself or herself and we played a get-to-know-you game before settling down to write for an hour. A fun activity we did, one that is a really great exercise, was to either draw or write down on a notecard what our Internal Editor looks like and says. We placed the notecards into an envelope and sealed it. The instructions were to not open it up until after NaNo. It’s a symbolic gesture. A way to put that dreaded Internal Editor away for a month thus freeing up our creativity.

But I got my novel started! The NaNo website itself allows you to keep track on your work and counts the words for you. I haven’t officially entered my word total as of this blog posting but subsequent November blogs will be updated with where I’m at word count wise. Fingers crossed I’m above the daily average of 1,667.

Happy NaNo everyone!