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Weekly Musing: 2017 NaNoWriMo Update #2

Well, I am entering the home stretch of 2017 NaNoWriMo and yes, it has started to feel like a marathon. The brain is struggling a bit more. The energy is starting to wan, but I have kept going.

Below are brief highlights of how this month has gone so far:

1)     Some days have gone easier than others, but the routine I set up has gone according to plan. Having a day off has been extremely helpful in both mental and physical recovery.

2)     Speaking of plans, as is tradition, my rough outline has changed dramatically. Characters and free will always override anything a writer comes up as far as I’m concerned. I adjust the outline accordingly to help guide rewrites. It also helps in rewrites to see where some areas need something more or to cut out an idea that doesn’t make sense.

3)     I’ve been able to average over 2,000 words a day. As of when this post goes live, I will be close to the 50,000 words goal. By no means I am close to being done with the rough draft by the end of November. I don’t know when I will be; hopefully by the end of December or early January. I also never know what the total word count will. Since what I’m writing is historical fiction, it’ll be long.

4)     I have entered the phase in a rough draft in which I am noticing repeated phrases and overused words. Brain starting to become a little bit fried and the words are leaving me.

5)     More caffeine, less sugar consumption. Good/bad? I’m getting the work done so…

6)     Working outside the home occasionally is great. Gets me around people without actually having to talk to anyone, keeps me less distracted, and makes me write faster. It seems to kick start some of the road blocks I run into.

7)     This is the first year I haven’t set up rewards for reaching milestones. While those have been great motivators, I realized I don’t really cash in many of them.

I’m feeling pretty good about my progress. I’m hopeful I’ll keep up the pace beyond November. Here’s to everyone who stuck it out for the month of November. It doesn’t matter if you “win” or not. You’re writing and should be proud of yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re doing something a lot of people wish they could do, but for whatever reason are terrified to try.

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Weekly Musing: First 2017 NaNoWriMo Update

Well, we are 11 days into this year’s NaNoWriMo. And so far, this year has been different from previous years which I find fascinating. I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo since 2013, winning each year I participated. In 2013, my first year, I was nervous, terrified. I had one very specific idea I was going to tackle. Within the first few days it became apparent that I wasn’t ready for the original idea, so I switched to writing a novel completely without thought. The following year, I used it to finally complete a rough draft of the novel I’d tried to write the year before. By this time I was far more comfortable both as a writer and with the story. By then I’d learned the novel doesn’t have to be complete in order to win. 2015 saw me once again draft another new idea. 2016 has been the only year I didn’t participate as I was working on a re-write not realizing people used NaNoWriMo for re-writes.

For this year’s NaNoWriMo, I find myself using it for a slightly different purpose than one of its main purposes. During the summer I’d started a novel. Unfortunately, life changes happened to knock me out of my rhythm. Now that things have settled down, what better time and way to hop back on board then November? So, 2017’s effort is being used to re-focus and get back into a schedule.

In order to find my place again in the story, I re-read it without editing or critiquing the chapters done. How I was able to turn off the very aggressive editor part of my brain I’ll never know. I’m surprised I’m even capable of such a thing. To further aid me, I glanced at my incomplete outline to see what my original thoughts were. Oddly enough, I didn’t even attempt to finish it. By now I know it’ll change and I’ll figure out an ending.

Now that I had my bearings, I began. The first day was rough; only approximately 1,460 words written. Below the NaNoWriMo target goal of 1,667 words a day. Reflecting upon my prior experiences, it seems the first day is the most challenging. It’s the added pressure of logging it on the website making someone accountable. If a writer is part of a region, like I am, then everyone in your region can see what you’ve written especially if you post anything on the forums. Though it’s okay however many words people are at, still seeing that tracker is intimidating.

Since I didn’t meet either the NaNoWriMo goal or my personal goal of 2,000 words a day the first day, I pushed myself the next couple of days. The reason why my personal goal is 2,000 words a day is because unlike years past, I have decided to take one day off per week. That’s another difference from prior years. I have finally learned I am not the type of writer who can write seven days a week. I enjoy having a life outside of work and not being cranky every day. This month I’m only a grump six days a week. I’m also sticking hard to writing during a set time while recognizing if I get a later start, that’s okay. I’m still getting the words in.

I view NaNoWriMo as both a sprint and a marathon. What I mean by this is one of the attractive philosophies of NaNoWriMo is its emphasis on writing without stopping to edit. There is a sense of urgency with each word written toward the daily goal. But it is also a marathon with the ultimate goal of 50,000 words in 30 days. As the month goes on, your energy slows down. Primarily because we hit the middle part of our novel and start to experience middle book sag so somehow we need to find the energy to make it to the finish line. Once we reach it, our minds and bodies are exhausted and we’re glad when we finish.

At this point I’m confident I can “win” again. As of when this extra-caffeine-and-unhealthy-amounts-of-sugar-fueled post is published, I should be close to 20,000 words written. I’ll probably do another update toward the end of the month. We’ll see if I’m struggling to get to the finish line or if I buck the trend and have energy. I want to end by saying to everyone out there participating, keep up the awesome work! Keep going even when November is done. Your story is important and so is your voice.

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Weekly Musing: NaNoWriMo 2016

2013 was the year I not only started this blog but also the first year I participated in National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo. Each year since then I’ve participated and won meaning I accomplished the goal of 50,000 words written during the month of November. No small task under normal circumstances and really difficult a couple of years due to coordinating a cross country move and dealing with family matters.

This year, though, I’m not participating. Not for lack of an idea. I’ve got ideas and characters galore, many of which have been nosily rattling around in my head for over a decade. I should probably deal with the backlog at some point. Nor is it because I no longer believe in the idea of NaNoWriMo. I still do and still think it’s a great idea for writers at any stage in their development to try it at least once. It’s a way to work to shake off the wretched gremlins and just accept a crappy rough draft. It’s also great to accept that one doesn’t have to complete the novel in the month of November. Like I mentioned, I’ve used it to start novels and technically last year’s novel isn’t done. I’m not alone in using it as a springboard.

My reason for not participating is I have been focusing the last couple of months on revising a historical fiction book I’ve been working on and off for the past several years. It has a connection to NaNoWriMo because in 2014 I took the opportunity to sit down and start a true rough draft. The first rough draft wound up being well beyond 100,000 words but the first 50,000 to 60,000 words were written during NaNoWriMo 2014. Instead of stressing my brain out with trying to work on something completely new and killing momentum with my current project, I’ve decided to stick with revising my novel.

It is odd not being involved this year. While I’m not participating, I’m still keeping abreast of those in my local writers group who are and have shared on Facebook when my local library is having write-ins. I will miss the rewards you earn on the NaNoWriMo website for earning milestones. I will miss the community which comes together for the month to share frustrations and successes. I will how it encourages me to set up my own rewards both the daily candy, thank you Halloween, and non-food rewards as I each hit target. It’s probably something I should think about whenever I draft a novel regardless of time of year.

So to everyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo this year, whether as a veteran or for the first time, good luck and have fun! You will face frustrations and stumbles and staring at walls, but it can be done. Remember, the book doesn’t have to be finished in 50,000 words, just have 50,000 words down by November 30th. Hopefully I’ll be joining you next year in all the nervousness and excitement of a new world.