Michille: 50,045

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Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month is over. And for the first time since I’ve started participating, I DID IT! 50,045 words. 32 scenes (plus a blog post). 24 days with words on the page. Fewest words – 0 (6 days of no writing). Most words – 5,307 (on November 30). Fortunately (or unfortunately) I ended up with a severe case of insomnia for the last week of NaNo so I was up at three or four a.m. making up word count from the previous weeks/days of missing the mark.

How did I do it? I wrote. A lot. I didn’t stop and go back and edit. One day, I wrote, ‘she grudgingly pushed the cell phone across the table to him’. I started to think of what that would look like instead of using the word grudgingly. How does one ‘grudgingly’ push a phone? Then I told myself to stop that nonsense and just keep writing. I could fix that later. Every line of dialogue had a tag. There are lots of adjectives, adverbs, filler words, inane conversation, and side bars. Continue reading

Michille: Recipe for Writing

Maple Glazed Turkey DinnerSpecifically, writing for NaNoWriMo. And I have discovered a couple of things while using NaNo to get back into the habit of daily writing. The biggest discovery is that I can’t do it without changing my routine. I have had some very successful writing days, which for me is about 3,500 words, but every one of those days this month have either started at 4 a.m. or the family is scattered so I don’t have to bother with dinner. I’m not a fan of getting up at 4 a.m., but I work full-time and exercise (and make dinner most nights) so there’s not a lot of free time in my day.

I was on a writing roll on Sunday morning. I got up early. Not at 4 a.m., but around 6 a.m. and everyone was still sleeping so I wrote about 1,700 words and planned to get back to it in the afternoon. But there was the planned 6-mile hike with my cousin, a trip to the grocery store, football which I combined with prepping some Thanksgiving side dishes, then dinner prep, dinner, and clean up. And THEN I could sit down again to write. The roll had turned into a lump and I struggled to put a couple hundred more words on the page, but was too tired to do much more than that.

Let me get back to my successful days. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Week 1 NaNoWriMo Humor

So, we’re just about at the end of the first week of this year’s NaNoWriMo writing extravaganza, which means that those who are right on track should have about 11,667 words on the page at this point.

Each of the year’s I’ve participated, I’ve always found the first week to be pretty fun.  The shine hasn’t yet worn off the initial story idea,  words are still flowing pretty consistently, and there’s that feeling of really accomplishment at passing the 10,000 word mark.  It’s the point in the process where I always think, “why don’t I do this every month.”

Then Week 2 comes around, but that’s a topic for another post.

So, how are things going with your writing this week?

Michille: National Novel Writing Month

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Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.” It starts on November 1 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Participants attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in that timeframe. I’ve tried it before and was almost successful once.

So how does it work? The NaNo-er signs up and completes a profile, decides what to write, selects a “home region” (used for stats on the website and offers the potential to meet with others in your area for writing time or inspiration), and starts writing on November 1. During the month, stay tuned to the NaNo website to upload word count and check on others’ progress. Continue reading

Michille: Get Ready to NaNoWriMo

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Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

I plan to NaNo this year. I usually plan to every year with varying degrees of success. Part of my prep is to look for organizers, brainstorming sheets, writing ideas, tips, etc., to provide ideas and motivation. Here are some I’ve used in the past and some I just found:

Writers Write (one of my favorite writing blogs) posted an organizer a number of years ago that some might find helpful which lead to a brainstorming worksheet and 30 tips (with lots of links for other helps).

I found some resources on the NaNo website. There is a NaNo Prep page that has useful resources. There is a webcast today that I plan to watch at 1 p.m. There is a young novelist workbook on their site, too. It is targeted to students, but I found some helpful things in the high school version. Writing buddies. I’ve never worked with one although there is one linked to me on my page and Nancy emailed me about it back in 2015. If you want to add me as a writing buddy, my NaNo name is mikeely. Or send me your name and I’ll add you to mine. There used to be a reference desk where you could ask research questions and there were some doozies on there, but I can’t find it this year. In the past, I found inspiration from some of the wacky questions people asked.

There are a lot of community NaNo happenings all over the world – all over Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe and I only scrolled a third of the way down the region page. San Francisco has a Night of Writing Dangerously. There are several write-in opportunities in my area. I’m not sure if I’m going to do one. The only time I went to one in my town, the writers all had weird furry hats on shaped like animals, except the guy with the reptile on his shoulder. Not my cuppa.

Writers Digest got in the tip game, too, with 30 Tips for Writing a Book in 30 Days and plenty of other sites have tip pages, including The Writing Cooperative, Bustle, and Storyist. And Galley Cat has a post with links from two previous NaNos

Did you know Water for Elephants (Sarah Gruen) was a NaNo novel? So was The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern), Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell), THREE Marissa Meyer books, Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress.

What are you doing to prepare?

Elizabeth: NaNo Progress Report – A Big Hot Mess

Cue the trumpets, toss the confetti, and raise your glass, it’s time to celebrate the rapidly approaching end of NaNo.

About an hour ago I typed my two favorite words – “The End” – and uploaded my final word count and manuscript for validation.  As a NaNo “winner”, I have the lovely graphic you see over to the left and a 50,007 word manuscript that can best be described as “a big hot mess.”

My NaNo got off to a slow start this year (I may have slept through a few writing sessions), and there have been a few days with less than stellar word counts, but being off work last week gave me a chance to really focus on writing and get a large number of words on the page that can probably best be described as “quantity” rather than “quality.”  There are most certainly plot holes you could drive a truck through, and it’s littered with notes like “something needs to happen here,” but the draft is done.

Yay!

Once the excitement of finishing the draft cools, it’s time to think about what to do next. Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Progress Report – Gaining Momentum

As November continues its rapid race toward December, NaNo has finished its third week, which means there are many new stories out there at about the 35,000+ word mark.

That’s awesome!  It also means that there are only about 15,000 more words to go to reach the magic 50,000 end-of-month goal.

I love this part in the process (when I haven’t spent the last week or so staring at a blank screen).  After the excitement of the first week and the slowdown of the second, there tends to be a marked change in my writing once I’ve gotten over that 30,000 word point.  After that, for better or worse, the story seems to gain momentum and race forward on its own.

The first act of my story ended at around 28,000 words, so I won’t have a completed book at the 50,000 word mark, and what I will have is going to need some definite work (seriously, you can probably see the plot-holes from space), but I’ll have made a real start at getting this story out of my head and on to the page, so that’s a good thing. Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Progress Report – The Sagging Middle

No, I don’t mean the after-effect of holiday eating or what happens when the elastic in your gym shorts breaks, I’m talking about what happens right about now during the month of NaNo.

We’re at the mid-way point; probably the most challenging time of the whole month.  The initial excitement of the first week, when stories were fresh and new tends to fade about now and be replaced by daily word counts that are a little more challenging to hit and creative ideas that are a little harder to come by.

For some – those whose stories are rolling right along – this can be an exciting part of the process where the germ of a story idea has taken root and grown into something even better than first imagined.  For others, this can be the time when what started out as a great idea now looks like a tangled mess with no discernible resolution.  You may have written yourself into a corner, or noticed you don’t actually have any solid conflict, or realized that 10,000 words ago your story took and unexpected turn and now you don’t know what’s next.

It can be tempting at this point to read over what you’ve written so far and do a little editing.

Don’t do it. Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Progress Report – Week 1

National Novel Writing Month kicked off just a week ago and, according to the handy graphic on the NaNo website, writers in nearby San Francisco have already written over 4.5 million words.

Multiply that by all the participating writers in all the participating cities around the world and that’s an amazing amount of writing and an amazing number of stories that didn’t even exist a mere week ago.

I’d love to say that my own NaNo experience was off to a stellar start this year, but that would be an extreme work of fiction, and not the good kind.

In reality, as you might guess from the graphic in this post, my NaNo got off to a rather slow start.  Three days of long hours at the day job coupled with at least one evening when I fell asleep in the midst of dinner made hitting the daily 1,667 word count a dream rather than a reality. Continue reading