So Close To The Finish Line • Writing Thoughts

NaNoWriMo finished over two months ago and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (finally!), and in case you were wondering, yes, my novel is filled with cliché, overused phrases just like that one. However, the only reason I’ve even gotten this far is because I’ve put the editor in me firmly on the back burner and allowed myself to just write. 

Many authors agree that the magic of writing is in the re-writing, and I couldn’t agree more. I know there are lots of problems with my draft and there will be plenty of things I’ll have to change, polish or re-write entirely, but for now I’m happy just to finish. That is the goal for this next month, and hard as it is sometimes, I do see myself with a full draft by the end of the month. I’m very excited!

It’s now officially the 5th of February so I have approximately 3 weeks left. In saying this, I’m not going to hold a rope at my own throat. If I don’t finish in the next few weeks I’m not going to make myself feel like a failure. I have a planned deadline that I don’t want to go over (and I don’t think I will unless I come down with dreaded writer’s block), but as long as the draft is mostly done by the end of the month, I’ll be happy enough.

This is just an update as to where I’m at with my NaNo novel (honestly I didn’t think I’d get this far). Once I get the first draft polished, I plan on re-reading it and making more changes, then I’ll approach an agent and publishers. After that, I’m going to go back to my initial story (check out my M.A.D. section to find out more about my first attempt at writing a novel) and create a proper outline for it (I think I’ve finally abandoned the ‘pantser’ life). Then for Camp NaNoWriMo I’m going to try for 50k again!

Phew.

That’s the plan. Fingers crossed for me!

50,060 Words • NaNoWriMo 2016 Recap

50,060 words 

Like many NaNoWriMo participaints, at the start of the month 50k words was my goal. However, I truly didn’t think I’d actually be able to do it, even when I hit 43k words and 45k words and even at 47k when I had so little to go. I really didn’t think I’d do it. I thought I’d lose all motivation and give up on myself like I always do.

Needless to say, I’m immensely proud of myself. The furthest I’ve gotten to that number ever before was 20k words and that was over the course of a few months. I managed 50,060 words – coherent words at that – in just under a month. I finished on day 29.

One of the reasons I think I did this was because, for one thing, I was excited about my story and my characters. And secondly, I paced myself. I wrote a post halfway through November called ‘Slow and Steady Wins the Race’. While other participants on Reddit’s r/nanowrimo and Instagram were boasting about their 20k word counts after just a few days, I took my time.

Even when I was on a roll with a scene, I stopped writing after approx. 2k words because I wanted to be able to start the next day on a good note. I never wanted to create a situation where I was facing a blank document with nothing to write because I used up all my creative energy the day before. There is something to be said for strategic writing.

Something I was surprised at was the fact I didn’t need a rewards system to keep me going. I put a chart on my wall featuring mini word goals with spots for gold stars. I filled the chart in for about 10 days and then stopped doing it. It didn’t feel necessary for me, and I’m quite glad of that. It shows me that I don’t need to bribe myself to keep going which, to me, is a good sign for someone who wants to make a living as an author.

Overall, the experience was a great one. Not only did I learn discipline and the art of writing every day, even if it’s only a little bit, I also wrote half of my first book in what I hope will be a trilogy. I expect the rest of book 1 to be covered in another 40k words or so to round it off at 90k. I know these seem like lofty goals, but after achieving so much in such little time, I feel like I can do anything.

I hope that high lasts.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race • NANOWRIMO 2016

It’s day 4 of NaNoWriMo 2016 and I’m about to start writing my words for the day. I’m feeling confident about the scene I’m writing so I figured I’d take a few minutes to write an update on how the challenge is going!

My total so far is 5,300 words, which I’m delighted about. It’s taught me that even writing a little bit a day is so important and it’s something that I’m going to try and continue after I’ve finished my draft. That’s another thing as well; I’ve realised that I am capable of writing a novel despite all my crippling insecurities. Hard work and commitment will get me there.

I absolutely know that I will finish the challenge at the end of the month with 50,000 words under my belt, something I’ve never managed to do before. I’m already planning on how I’m going to celebrate and I’m feeling so happy with how my story is going that I genuinely think I’ll continue editing it and adding to it over the next few months. So all in all, NaNoWriMo couldn’t be going better!

write every day

One thing I worried about was reaching the 1,667 word goal every day but it hasn’t been a struggle so far. Yesterday while I was lurking on the NaNo sub on Reddit, I noticed that a lot of people were posting about their word counts (some of which were five figures already) and it made me a little nervous about my own figure, even though I’ve exceeded my goal every day.

This is one of the reasons past participants have warned about comparing yourself to other writers/checking their progress against yours and other detrimental things. You start to doubt whether you’re doing as well as you thought, and that only leads to demotivation and procrastination and, finally, giving up.

From my experience so far, I think the approach of ‘slow and steady wins the race’ is the best course of action. Obviously, everyone is different, but I think it would be easy to burnout if you went hell for leather in the first few days. On day one, for instance, I had a good idea of the first five or six scenes I’d write, but I’m glad I didn’t try and do it all at once. Not only does this give you a bit of breathing room (and time to think of other details for the scenes), it also gives you something to start with each day. There’s nothing worse than facing a blank page when you haven’t the faintest idea where to start.

writing nanowrimo

Now if you’ll excuse me, I should be writing!

Are you participating this year? What do you think so far? Best of luck to everyone!

FINAL PREP • NANOWRIMO 2016

At the start of the month, I wrote a post on my initial prep for NaNoWriMo and, although I didn’t plan out as many of the smaller plot details as I thought I would, I still think I have a good framework with enough flexibility for some creative inspiration.

I have a basic outlook of what’s going to happen but I’m still kind of stuck on the endpoint. I know what my conclusion is, I’m just not super sure how to write it or about what events will get my character to the finish line. Instead of allowing anxiety to get the best of me like I always do, I’m just going to see how I do.

I’ll go in optimistic and if I get stuck, it’s okay; as long as I get to that magical 50k, I’ll have done myself proud. I’ll have completed my task and gotten to a stage that I’ve never reached before. And that’s an accomplishment!

I don’t want to say too much in case I change my mind about things while writing, but my novel is based very loosely around the story of Mulan. In saying that, after the introduction of my main character the story quickly becomes something else entirely, so I’m reluctant to peg it as ‘a Mulan retelling’ because it isn’t, really. It just follows a similar trajectory.

It’s very weird to think that I’m going to start this huge challenge tomorrow, that I’ll have to write approx. 1700 (give or take a few words) every day if I’m to reach my target. It’s scary! I really don’t want to fail. I just have to remember that I’m doing this as a change of pace and a refresher from M.A.D., and also to prove to myself that I can get 50k words written, that even if it’s worse than garbage, I can finish writing a book. 

I have a little calendar from a set called No Plot? No Problem! which I bought a few years ago but never used. I think it’ll come in handy this time around as I can manage my progress as I go along (with gold stars no less!) Hopefully it’ll keep me on the right track!

Tomorrow is my starting pistol, but it’s so much more than just the beginning of a challenge, it’s the start of honing my skills to become a more disciplined and dedicated writer. I’m nervous but excited! That’s the correct feelings duo, right?

Is your final prep done? Are you ready to start writing tomorrow? Let me know in the comments!

Initial Prep • NaNoWriMo 2016

This year I’ve decided to participate in NaNoWriMo! I thought about signing up last year and the year before but I ended up not doing it because of self-doubt and work commitments. And when I say “work commitments”, I’m actually just scrambling for another excuse for why I was a chicken and didn’t push myself.

This year will be different, however, because I’ve gotten back into actually enjoying writing, so I have faith in myself this time. I think that’s an important component of going for a challenge like this; nobody wants to fail, and if you go into it expecting yourself to do badly then chances are you will.

If any of you are following my M.A.D. writing project, you’ll know I’ve already started writing my debut novel. As it’s going well, I thought taking a month off to focus on a totally different story would give me some breathing space from my novel, and may actually result in some inspiration and sub-plot ideas by the end of it.

nanowrimo 2016

I think it’s important to take a bit of a step back sometimes, especially if you feel yourself stagnating, which so often happens near the middle of a story. I hope that my experience with NaNoWriMo will give me a new lease of life!

As well as that, from what I’ve heard from people who have participated in the challenge before, it’s best not to continue working on something you already started. A clean slate is best! Lucky for me, I’ve had an idea rattling about in my mind for a few months so this will be a good chance for me to experiment with it.

I’ve started planning a month ahead, which many NaNoWriMo participants say is an important thing to do unless you want to just wing it. Winging it works sometimes, but when you’re facing a challenge that requires you to write an entire book in a month (and hopefully a coherent one), winging it probably won’t cut it and could result in a great deal of stress.

I’ve almost finished plotting out my story, I just need to tie up a few loose ends, and then I’m going to focus on drawing up character sheets. Being this organised is a new approach for me, but it’ll be interesting to see how much better I do because of it.

nanowrimo 2016

I bought the Ready, Set, Novel!: A Workbook two years ago but never got around to filling it in so this is a great opportunity to take a proper look at it, and hopefully it will be useful in terms of plot and characterisation. I imagine it’ll be very useful for reigning in my ideas, which are so often scattered and hard to piece together with other elements of the story.

If you’re also starting the NaNoWriMo journey, I’d suggest getting a notebook and starting your prep now. You’ll thank yourself when you’re halfway through November in the middle of your novel with no end in sight!