Nancy: The End Is Near…Or Maybe Not

NaNoIt’s Monday and my brain hurts.

Some of you might have the same malady today. Those of you who’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo 2015 are staring down the finish line, some from up close and others (like yours truly) from far, far away. To those of you who have made or will make it to 50k words by midnight tonight, congratulations! To my fellow stragglers, also-rans, and just-couldn’t-quite-do-it writers like myself, I share your pain and disappointment. This wasn’t our year. And as I know you know by now, that’s okay. Sometimes it really is the journey that matters. We’ll get to the destination of a completed first draft eventually.

I’ve already documented some of my own roadblocks to NaNo success. I finished my novella (woot!), then had a hell of a time switching gears to jump into the next novel-length story. My time was much more limited than I’d hoped, and like other American participants, I had the distractions of the Thanksgiving holiday. And just when I thought I was ready for an all-out sprint that might have at least gotten another 10k words on the page, I received an in-depth critique on a different novel, which sent me tripping and stumbling off the track.

That’s right. I broke one of the cardinal rules of NaNoWriMo: Thou shalt not think about revisions during the month of November. Continue reading

Nancy: NaNo Week Three: What the Hell Am I Writing, Again?

This frustrated writer is trying the 'osmosis approach' to NaNoWriMo.

This frustrated writer is trying the ‘osmosis approach’ to NaNoWriMo.

For all those NaNoers out there who only eked out a few thousand (or even a few dozen) words in week 2 of NaNo, take heart. You are far ahead of my week 2 efforts. As Michaeline pointed out on Saturday, there are reasons for our poor showing last week. But never one to do something half-assed, I have taken not only my week 2 suckitude, but also my reasons for week 2 suckitude, to all new heights. My biggest obstacle last week? I had no idea WTF I was writing.

Week 1 started off pretty well for me, and last weekend saw me running across word-count finish lines and surging through NaNo goal ribbons like a champ. And then it happened – I finished NaNo project number 1, my novella, lovingly titled Victorian Series Book .5! (Yeah, yeah, I know. Better title to come later.) I gave myself two days – just two days! – to rest on those laurels while I read through my NaNo notes for project 2, the next novel in that series. Only it turns out there aren’t NaNo notes for project 2. There are a few jumbled phrases, a few scene prompts typed in bright red, some yellow highlights reminding me of stuff that must be researched. But for an uber-planner like I am? That’s diddly-squat.

So what’s a dedicated NaNo-er to do in this situation? It’s a process, people. And while there are many roads to Oz, YMMV, etc., there are some general guidelines, some steps, if you will, to get oneself out of this mess. The process I recommend is thus:

Step 1. PANIC! Continue reading

Nancy: Learning New Tricks

New TricksA piece of writing advice you’ve probably heard is to make writing a habit. There’s a reason for that. We humans respond well to habits. Once we’ve developed them, habits are the well-worn road, the known quantity. Habits trigger our brain to do the same thing because, hey, we’ve done this so many times before, we know it’s safe. So writing every day, at the same time, in the same place, maybe wearing your ‘creativity pants’ (mine look a lot like pajamas), trains your brain that when I do A, it is time for you to do B, B being write the damn book.

But for all their usefulness, habits can be a double-edged sword. Habits can lead to ruts. Ruts can crush creativity. And before you know it, you’re writing the same stel things over and over, making the same mistakes, or worse – staring at a blank page. If this has happened to you, it’s time to mix things up. Write somewhere new. Change the time you write (or add another block of writing time to your daily writing time). Even do the unthinkable – put on pants!

Whether you need to create a new writing habit or breathe life into a stale old one, Continue reading

Nancy: On the Care and Feeding of Writers

Nancy's official NaNoWriMo (and life) avatar.

Nancy’s official NaNoWriMo (and life) avatar.

This past week, some of us prepped for NaNoWriMo 2015. Others started looking toward the impending end of the year and taking stock of manuscripts not yet completed and writing blocks not yet overcome. And far too many of us started beating ourselves up about our writing shortcomings. So today I thought I’d spend some time reminding you, dear readers who are also (sometimes fragile) writers, that you are awesome and amazing, and gosh-darn it, people like you (and your writing)! I’ve gathered some cliches, put a writerly spin on them, and shared them in the hopes you’ll take comfort in them and return to your writing with renewed joy, or at least remember to cut yourself a little slack.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making story plans. And when life happens, it interrupts those story plans. Sometimes it’s fair, valid, and necessary for creative types to step away from their creative endeavors to take take of sick parents, young children, or friends or partners in need. But other times… Continue reading

Nancy: NaNoWriMo: A Multi-Purpose Writing Tool

NaNoIt’s that time of year again. In the northern hemisphere, the air has turned crisp. Leaves are changing colors. Children are choosing Halloween costumes. And writers across the globe are stocking up on coffee, hoarding chocolate, and doing finger stretches in anticipation of National Novel Writing Month.

Here at 8LW, Michille has shared her plans for her own run at NaNoWriMo gold (finishing 50k words of original fiction in the month of November), Elizabeth has been getting us into shape with writing sprints, and several of the ladies are contemplating whether they’ll join the party.

Until this past week, I was undecided about my own NaNoWriMo plans. Continue reading