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.

Advertisements

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.

Weekly Musing: 2015 NaNoWriMo Update

Unlike the previous two years I decided not to do a weekly NaNoWriMo update. With monthly updates regarding revising a novel I didn’t think posting about a different WIP would be interesting. Instead I thought just one post would be sufficient.

As of when this hits, I should be close to that glorious 50,000 word mark or beyond it. However, this doesn’t mean the story itself is done. By my rough estimate I’ve got probably a couple more weeks left to finish it. Not sure how many words it will be in the end but it certainly won’t be anything close to the behemoth of a rough draft my historical fiction book was.

Going into NaNoWriMo this year, I had a vague idea story in my head. I wrote down a few key scenes on notecards and was prepared to wing it. Since my focus the last few months has been on historical fiction I wanted this book to be in a different genre. I like doing this because it gives my mind a break as well as allows me to play around in a completely different world.

Primarily inspired by Halloween I decided to the main character should be a witch. I wanted to stay away from some of the familiar tropes. For example, she’s not an ugly old hag yet she’s not overly pretty or beautiful. Also she’s not either purely good or purely evil and she’s not part of a coven. Definitely more of a loner type as she lives in the woods with her faithful dog until an old acquaintance appears on her doorstep. Adventure ensues. Not very well and probably not very coherent in many spots, but the story is for fun. I’m not sure at this point if I want to revise this or not.

A few differences I’ve noticed this year from the previous two years is I feel like I have a far better grasp on the concept of what makes a chapter. I also feel like I have a better idea of how to end a chapter on a note that makes a reader turn the page. Again, this is a very rough, terrible draft but as I’ve been writing, I can feel a natural rhythm dictating each chapter. This is most likely due in large part with working on a chapter a day for the other book so my mind has gotten into a grove.

Another difference is this hasn’t been as stressful as years past. In 2013 I was in the process of planning a cross country move. Last year I used NaNoWriMo as a jumping off point to write my historical fiction novel. Going into that I knew it was going to be vastly longer than 50,000 words. This year, with the exception of the last week or so, it hasn’t been that stressful. There’s no pressure I’m placing on myself and as I mentioned above, I’m not sure I’ll be revising this next year. I’m enjoying the story and the characters for what they are and trying something new.

The other big thing, and this is something that’s been developing more over the whole year rather than during this month, is I’m able to consistently able to write above the 1,667 words/day goal. I’ve always been one of those people able to write well over a 1,000 words/day just because I’m incredibly wordy to begin with. But this year I seem to have upped the ante a bit.

So for everyone out there who participated in NaNoWriMo, I hope the month went well for you. And even if you didn’t meet the 50,000 word goal or finish the story, that’s okay. Look at November as the month you began your novel. Use the momentum and routine you developed this month and carry that over into December and beyond.