December 1, 2015

NaNoWriMo is over, but I just have a few more things to say. This year was different than past NaNo experiences for me in multiple ways. It was full of a lot of highs and lows. My first write-ins, my first word crawls, a new writing buddy, and the 25k on day 1 all made this a November to remember. I also wrote a full novel and probably 2/3 of another, which was new for me. One thing I learned is that I’m better not pushing for a huge word count in a single day. If it happens, then I’m probably in the right mood for it, and great! Otherwise, I risk burning out, and I really did teeter on the edge of that during the rest of the first week.

I just have to say a huge thank you to my husband who gave me everything I needed this month–time and encouragement to work, but also a reminder that I don’t have to overachieve if it’s just not feeling right. Oh, and lots of fun and relaxation right when I needed it. And to my sister who came to the write-in with me, even though it was so far from where she lives. It was so much fun doing that, and we were even in the paper!

I keep saying that the community and mutual encouragement of the community is what makes NaNo so amazing, and it really is true! I felt a lot of that when I was having issues this month, from fellow bloggers, people in my region, and just from finding new ways to be inspired on the NaNo forums. I will always love this event and the people who are involved!

One last time for 2015, make sure to check out the final NaNoToons – 2015 December 1st
And since I apparently forgot to post any more episodes of the musical, here is episode 5. There’s one more after it, and I think it’s linked at the end of this one. I wanted to get to episode 5 specifically, because it contains my favorite out of all the songs.

Now onto the non-NaNo part of the post, today’s daily writing check-in:

Words/Time: 25 minutes organizing notes for “Pithea” in anticipation of the next (and probably last for a very long time) marathon meeting of the TCSTB. We’ve left a lot of things to work on later through the 100,000ish words of this novel, so I went through and found all of the issues, questions, or whatever, and made a list of what we needed to work on.

NaNoWriMo Day 24

The Words: 4976 words written today. I went to the last write-in at my local library tonight. It was a small turnout, but I did get my normal day’s word count done while I was there. Then I went ahead and did one 1k30min with the Twitter feed, and wrote 1600 words during that.

The Story: Jonathan has been detained for the murder of his apprentice. He and Missy are discussing some concerning issues, like what on earth is going on in general, and why Jonathan’s wife Larxis said that he has a temper and that she thinks Missy is in love with Jonathan. He just keeps telling her to trust the justice system, and not to worry over things she can’t control. He wants her to cooperate fully with the investigation, and he’s certain the truth will come out (whatever that even is). I never knew he was so level-headed and trusting. Even I’m starting to wonder if he’s having a mental break-down.

Total word count: 83,769

day 24

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 24th

And episode 4 of the NaNoMusical! Rick falls down, and there’s a sappy love song!

NaNoWriMo Day 14

The Words: 2441 written today.  Most of it was in the afternoon, and the rest came in the evening. Mostly with another word crawl. I don’t know what’s been going on this year, but the Skype group my region formed last year, which had word wars going on nearly every evening, has been dead this year. There was some activity near the beginning of the month, mostly from new people. But not many word wars. I’m a little worried that some of the more active people made their own Skype group somewhere else and do word wars there. Maybe that makes me paranoid, but seriously…what happened to everyone? I’ve found my own ways to stay motivated and keep writing, but I’m not feeling quite as connected as I did last year.

The StoryThe stand-off has escalated as the woman who was threatening Darcy’s dad with a hot piece of metal has a gun (literally out of nowhere, because the metal just wasn’t threatening enough for the scene to work). And now she has a hostage. But all hope is not lost, as another person has arrived on the scene and is trying to explain to her what he thinks is really going on around here.

Today was the point when I realized that my story simply cannot work the way I’ve written it. Not because of the lack of humor and the light-hearted take on the story I’d originally planned, but because the actual mystery and logic doesn’t work out very well at all. I will finish the story because I’m close to the end, and why not? But I don’t plan to revise it. If anything, I may considering reworking the elements that went into the motives and such, and rewrite the story from scratch. But that would be a project for another day, as I still have a lot of other novels to work on.

Total word count: 55,259

day 14

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 14th

Let’s end week 2 on a high note, with more NaNoMusical!

With the close of week 2, how is everyone doing out there? Did you survive the week 2 blues? Are you finding a new drive? Just remember, write whatever comes to mind; worry about if it works for your story or not, or if it’s any good or not, later (or never)!

NaNoWriMo Day 9

The Words: 2476 written today (exactly one word less than yesterday, apparently).  I worked on another word crawl, this one providing a lot more words than the mini crawl I did yesterday. In fact, I didn’t even finish it. I’ll probably continue it tomorrow.

I do have plans to go to a write in tomorrow, my first ever. I’m sure I’ll have something to say on that tomorrow night.

The Story: There are police officers going around asking questions, fingers being pointed, and past incidents being exaggerated. I just started into writing about the night before the busiest day of the show, which promises to bring all sorts of fireworks.

Total word count: 42,361

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 9th

I had every intention of posting this on Saturday, but I’ve been forgetting all sorts of things when I write these nightly posts. If you haven’t already seen it (and heck, even if you have!) here is the 2nd episode of the NaNoMusical for your viewing pleasure:

NaNoWriMo Day 1

The Words: 25,010 written today! Okay, yeah, so wow. I basically decided some time in the last week to go for a 25kDayOne. I figured I’d be writing for basically 24 hours with little mini breaks now and then. And I had this little hope in the back of my mind that maybe I’d do so well that I’d actually get close to 50k.

The main thing I learned today is that just because I can write this fast doesn’t mean I should do it too often.

Basically, I averaged 2k per hour, for the first 7 hours, at which point I realized I was fading hard. I went to bed, woke up and went with my husband to pick up some leftover Halloween candy. Got back to writing while eating my lunch, never quite got back up to the same pace, and decided that when I hit 25k, I’d call it for the day. That happened just before 7 pm.

25KDayOne

This is a screen shot of the spread sheet I kept throughout the day. I took a few notes in case I wanted to remember things later.

I’m still going to write every day this month. For at least the next few days, if I get the daily minimum done and feel like stopping, I will. I came pretty close to burning out today, and don’t want to risk it.

The Story: I’ll be honest. This story went nowhere good in 25,000 words. I barely got to the actual plot. Most of what I wrote was just showing what life is like at a reenactment. If I decide someday to try to do something further with this story, the first thing I’ll probably have to do is figure out how to break some of that up throughout the rest of the story so the main plot and conflict start sooner. The blade smith, Shawn Mallory, did finally go missing, though, and the MC, Darcy, has started doing video interviews with the different blacksmiths at the reenactment, at the behest of one of the older smiths, so they can compile a tribute to a retiring smith and the community he’s fostered in their region. (Yes, the word “smith” or “blacksmith” came up a lot just in this paragraph. Imagine how the rest of the story sounds. But that is the focal point of the story, so that’s just how it’s going to be. It’s easier when they have names, but I figured trying to include them all here would just be more confusing.)

Total word count: 25,010

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2015 – November 1st
And in honor of November 1st, the first episode of the NaNoMusical!

The Sights and Sounds of NaNoWriMo

The countdown to NaNoWriMo is picking up speed. Okay, so that’s a physical impossibility, but with only 12 days left, it does feel like the time I have left to get ready is dwindling more than I’d like.

While NaNo is so often seen as scary, panic-inducing mania, it’s good to remember the fun of the event. Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite things about NaNo that don’t specifically relate to the writing itself.

Errol
Fair warning: all of these involve the same over-excited, over-active Asian guy. It’s not that there aren’t other great NaNo-related songs or comics out there, but these are some of my favorites (for good reason).

NaNoToons: A webcomic about a group of characters who participate in NaNoWriMo. The comic runs daily throughout the month of November. Some years it starts partway through October so the story can ramp up before NaNo starts. I’ve seen no indication as to whether that will happen this year or not, but until it does start, you can catch up on the NaNoToons from previous years.

During November, you can check in every day to see the continuing adventures of the group as they eat their weight in chips, pass out early at the yearly overnight event, and write their way through November.

NaNo songs: There are a plethora of songs about NaNoWriMo on YouTube. One only need search for “nanowrimo songs” to find plenty of fun tunes. My favorites are in this playlist, or this site.

Songs about NaNo are great for hyping yourself up for the day’s writing or for playing over the next few weeks during your prep time.

NaNoMusical: Yes, it’s a musical about NaNoWriMo. And it’s one of my favorite things of all time. It’s a 6-part web series made by WE Tangent, with music by Debs & Errol. From the site itself: “NanoMusical follows Dale, a legend who has surpassed the 50,000 word count every year, and his three friends as they navigate their way through the exciting and often tumultuous month of November…with music.”

The musical came out in 2012, one episode per week from the days before NaNo started until the week after. I personally think that was the best way to watch it–spread throughout the event. However, as with binge watching on Netflix, it’s fully accessible now and can be watched all in a row. Still, if you watch the first episode and like it, you can use the following episodes as rewards for finishing certain milestones in your writing.

Do you have favorite NaNo-related songs or other fan creations like these? Are you already anxiously awaiting the start of this year’s NaNoToons? Is there a bit too much Errol in this post? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

My NaNoWriMo

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I am going to do something a little different with this post than I normally do. Not that talking about my writing is all that different, but I’ve never done so to this extent. As I prepare for NaNoWriMo and do my best to help others prepare, I have been purposely vague on my own history. I try not to spend too much time talking about my own writing, because that’s not the point of these NaNo prep posts.

I do post daily about the writing work I’ve done for the day, because this blog was originally intended to keep myself accountable. I’ve since expanded it into a place to share writing tips, but I still post at the end of every day in which writing work of some kind happened, to check in. However, they’re usually short posts with not much detail (or a bit of detail with no context).

Today, I am going to share my personal NaNo history. If you don’t really care about my personal NaNo history, I won’t be offended if you simply don’t read on. (I probably won’t even know.)

nanowinner07I first heard about NaNoWriMo on a forum for Ragnarok Online fanfiction. The moderator mentioned it, and I ran to go check it out. I decided immediately to join, even though it was already October. At the time, I had written a good amount of fanfiction for the aforementioned game, and was stalled on the 5th (and last) in a series of novella-length stories. I also had a brand new fic I wanted to work on, but needed to finish the other first. NaNoWriMo gave me a brand new motivation to push past the blocks. I was so excited, I didn’t even want to wait until November. So I started on October 21st and wrote for 30 days. I finished the book I’d been stuck on in short order and spent most of the month writing “Outcast.”

There was no region near me, so I was stuck in the “Indiana: Elsewhere” category, and most of the people were from way north or south of me. There was no real hope for much social interaction, but that didn’t bother me. I’m pretty terrified of people anyway.

I ended the month with 50,288 words, and though “Outcast” wasn’t finished, I did finish it within the next year. It’s still one of my favorite stories ever, and I can’t wait until it gets its turn at being re-set in the world of Pithea.

“Outcast” is a story about sin and redemption, losing everything to gain much more, and the nature of true friendship. More information about the story can be found here.

I skipped 2008. Though I agonized over my decision all month (or at least the first few weeks, until I decided it would be too late to start anyway), I’m pretty sure this was the point when I was starting to transition away from writing fanfiction, but couldn’t really move on from those stories.

nano_09_blk_participant_100x100_1.png In 2009, though, I was raring to go again. I had worked for several months on building a world in which I could set my fanfics–original, but still accommodating the stories I’d already written. With that new world in mind, I wrote “Pursuit of Magic.”

I’m pretty sure I was still in the Indiana: Elsewhere region, though I think I may have been a little involved in the region of a town not far from me too.

I wrote 22 words over the goal, finishing one day early. This time, I did actually write the end of the story. However, I had a lot of gaps in the last third of the story. A lot of areas that I hadn’t fleshed out and didn’t want to slow down to decide what should happen. Still, I had a final scene that I really loved, so that was something.

In 2010 and 2011, a combination of not having much inspiration in the fiction area and having a young child, while also homeschooling an older one, gave me enough reason to sit NaNo out. I wish now that I’d at least tried those years, as well as 2008. I didn’t really know back then how to generate ideas, so without any readily available, I truly didn’t think I could do NaNo.

2012-participantFollowing on the heels of two years off, 2012 was a rough one. The world I had started creating back in 2009 hadn’t worked out, and I’d officially decided that my fanfictions–the characters, plots, and future ideas–needed to be laid to rest. It was difficult, but I did have an idea for a new story. It wasn’t much of an idea, but I went with it. I don’t even remember if I had an outline, but I know the plot I had in mind didn’t extend very far. And during the month, I kept playing with the setting and changing things.

Fort Wayne, a city near me, had gotten its own region in (I think) 2010, so I had a region closer to home to join. I considered going to some events, but in the end, I was still too shy. I did join in on discussions on my region’s forum though.

It was messy, but I ended the month with 51,288 words, crossing the finish line on the 27th. I had barely any semblance of a story, and certainly not a full novel. I haven’t touched that story since then, as I’m quite sure I was forcing the idea anyway. If anything good came of that month’s writing, it was the understanding that I really need to plan more before November.

The best part about 2012 was that on the main NaNo website, there was a link to NaNoToons, a daily webcomic that runs during November (sometimes starting partway through October). And the day before November started, the guy who made the webcomic posted a link to the first episode of a musical he and some others had made about NaNoWriMo. By the end of the month, I was hooked on Debs & Errol and involved in a whole new world of geekiness, and the rest is history.

2013 NaNo Participant FB ProfileIn 2013, NaNoWriMo took on a new excitement for me. I had hit on a new idea for a story world that would work for my fanfictions. Instead of trying to simply alter the game world they’d been created in to make it original, yet similar, I realized it would be better to build a new world from the ground up. I started with one basic element around which I, along with my husband, have crafted the world that I use now. I spent a lot of the year figuring out how things would work, and how to fix problems in my existing stories to make the basic plots still work in the vastly different world.

From my fanfiction days, I had a core group of 5 stories (the series I mentioned back during the 2007 section). Most of the other plans I had, and many of the characters, stemmed from that series. So it was the first thing that needed to be converted to this new world. Originally, I really thought I’d just be able to go through and edit it to fit and to be one novel instead of 5 shorter stories.

Somewhere along the way, I realized how ridiculous that notion was. Not only was there too much that needed changing, but I had grown so much as a writer in the 6ish years since I’d written them. It was much smarter to rewrite completely. So I picked out what I wanted to keep and started plotting a new story. I boiled five 20k-30k word stories into one story in 4 parts. And then I proceeded to have the best November I’d had so far, writing what has since been titled “Pithea.”

I went to my first local event in 2013–the kickoff party. My husband went with me, and I got to meet some of the other Wrimos from my area. I kept thinking I’d get to a write-in, but it’s hard to get out alone with kids and a husband who works full time. Going to the kickoff was a huge step for me anyway.

I hit 50k words on Nov 14 that year, and ended the month with 90,228 words total. I chalked the amazing numbers up to having a lot planned for the story. I’d been working with these characters for almost 10 years, after all, and the story itself was a rewrite. The story wasn’t finished, but I wrote the rest over the next few months. In February 2014, I finished my first ever novel draft.

“Pithea” is the story of two teenagers who find their places in life while growing up in a world filled with Power and Madness. More information about the story can be found here.

2014-Participant-Facebook-ProfileThis brings us to last year. I went into November with a well-developed outline. I was writing a story that runs somewhat parallel to “Pithea,” with some characters and even a few scenes that coincide. I planned out 2014’s novel earlier in the year, while revising “Pithea,” so I knew for sure what the characters were up to when they showed up in “Pithea.”

Also, my 2014 novel was a rewrite of my 2009 novel. However, it was set in a different world from the one I’d tried to craft in 2009. Some basic mechanics were different enough that a lot of the plot had to be gutted and rebuilt. So though it’s a rewrite of very broad plot points, it was a vastly different story. Even the final scene from 2009 ended up needing rewritten, thus losing the big moment that I’d loved. By the end of the month, I had a finished draft of “Pursuit of Power.”

There was so much different about last year. I went to the kick-off party again, with my whole family. I joined a Skype group with other people from my region, where we proceeded to have word wars most of the month (my first word wars). I blogged about my progress every day, which was kind of fun–recapping the day’s story progress and how I’d fit the writing time into my day.

I broke my single-day word count record (which was probably in the area of 6000) with 10,516 words on the 15th. I also tried a challenge set forth on the forums to write 3k in 1 hour. I wrote a little over 3000, but I didn’t enjoy the experience. I crossed the 50k mark on November 12. At the end of the month, I weighed in with 107,234 words. 2014 is the first year I ever finished NaNo with a completed manuscript. Unlike its predecessor, “Pursuit of Power” was truly finished, without huge gaps of story that I’d have to fill in later.

“Pursuit of Power” follows Alexander Surett, who is messing with forces he doesn’t understand in an attempt to find the truth behind his father’s death. More information about the story can be found here.

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I always say I learn something new every year during NaNoWriMo. Some of it is about what to do, some about what not do to. I’m looking forward to seeing what I’ll learn this year, though I suspect a lot of that is already happening right now, with the series of blog posts I’ve been making about preparing for NaNo, and my own work to that effect.

There’s no reason to think that the virtual strangers who stop by my blog care to read so much about my past experiences with NaNoWriMo. I’ll be honest–part of me wonders if typing all of this wasn’t just a subconscious attempt at an ego boost (plus it was a lot of fun to reminisce about those years). Maybe it will provide some insight, excitement, or simply entertainment for someone though.

What is your history with NaNoWriMo? Do you love it or hate it? Feel free to share your own thoughts on the matter.