On the Eve of NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo starts in 4 hours where I am. It has been a hard-fought month of prep for me. For one thing, I was just getting myself back to a place where I could work on my writing regularly again at the beginning of the month. I got back into the swing of posting every day to hold myself accountable to doing some form of writing work each day.

There were 3 main things I wanted to do before November came:
1. Clean my main writing space.
2. Post a synopsis for my novel, along with 2-3 other posts about NaNo, writing in general, and my other novels.
3. Make a solid outline for my NaNoNovel.

Then I got sick. And let’s see how my plans worked out?

1. I did get this done, just today. Initially, my husband and I planned to clean more around my writing space too, but today, he said, “What do you want done, bare minimum?” So now my work desk is cleaned off, so I can put aside work things and focus on writing more easily, and I have even organized various papers, notebooks, and scrapbooking things into a filing cabinet that I’ve had for a while, but was too lazy to do much with.

2. This post is a compromise for me…I had more detail I wanted to share about things I learned during my prep time this month, but some of it has actually sort of been watered down in my mind by snags that came after the exciting moments. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but that’s okay. Once I get past the first few scary days of November, and hopefully past this flu (I’m just guessing it’s the flu, but it tracks), I will still post some of the other things I wanted to share, but there’s one that will probably never be written (titled “Planners are Cheaters,” by the way).

3. And then there’s my NaNoNovel…The novel I’ve planned to write next month will delve into the mind of someone more broken and dark than any characters I’ve written about so far.  It’s not the first time I’ve planned to write something out of my comfort zone. Two years ago, I wrote 2 murder-mystery themed stories, which was a first for me. Last year, I wrote about the time my dad spent in the hospital for 3 weeks in September of that year. Writing like that was very different for me.

However, the shape and form of this novel has changed pretty drastically about 100 times since I started planning it 3 weeks ago. I have been concerned for most of those 3 weeks that I won’t be ready in time. I don’t need a long, detailed outline, sheets on every character, note cards, or any other such degree of planning. But I wasn’t even sure I would have a broad outline, and I can’t stress this enough–I am not a pantser. (I’ve tried.)

Fortunately, just yesterday, I finished a 2-page, handwritten outline. When I say “finished”…well, I got as far as I could without knowing where the writing will take me. I often (not always, but often) will write 2/3 of an outline, and then start writing, because I’m not even sure what is going to happen next, but I have good reason to believe that the actual writing will bring out the rest. This outline covers about half, maybe more, of the story. The other half(ish) of the story has a fairly solid timeline to help me know that broad plot points.

I’ve decided that I can’t post a synopsis for my story though, at least not more than the early one I already did. The story is still too much of a mystery to me, so much that I can’t even say what the true “main story” is going to be until I write it. This one’s going to be a fun one to edit, I think…

Okay, now looking ahead to tonight, and the rest of the month, I have two key things I want to say:
1. I will be starting right at midnight. I do that every year, and whether I write 500 words or 3000 words, anything I get done before going to bed is a huge mental jump start on the month!

2. I will blog every day about my experience doing NaNoWriMo. This will be the third year I’ve done this, since starting my blog (2014 and 2015). There may be those who are curious about how others get through the month (I know I am). I have also found that I really enjoy being able to look back in later years and read about my progress through the month. And since I already post here every day that I got any writing work done, as a way of staying accountable, it’s not much of a stretch.

I have not yet heard for sure whether or not we will have new NaNoToons this year, but if so, I will share those every day. (If not, maybe I’ll go back and share them from an earlier year!) I will also post episodes from the NaNoMusical throughout the month, because I still love it to pieces and can’t not try to get others to love it too!

I wish my fellow Wrimos well, and hope to hear from some of you during the month!

Are you ready for NaNo to begin? Do you plan to do the midnight sprint tonight?

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Daily Writing Check-in: October 30, 2017

Words/Time: approx. 45 minutes of NaNoPrep

I did manage to work on my outline for my NaNoNovel some, though I was still sick today. I think I have a decent start on the main storyline, and the “letters” storyline I think is already sort of outlined in the timeline. So I’m getting close. I’m hyper-aware of the fact that at this time tomorrow, I will be preparing to start the midnight sprint, and I still feel lousy.

My husband suggested I take the first few days of the month off, but I can’t quite explain to him why that’s not an option. I don’t expect to rocket ahead like I have in previous years, but I don’t think I can just not write when November 1st comes.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 29, 2017

Words/Time: 308 words, and approx. 45 minutes of NaNoPrep

I did some writing practice with a prompt, in the hopes of drumming up something for tomorrow’s Monday Moment. It turned out to be a little too cryptic to share, but incredibly interesting to me for a backstory of another character who has always been a bit of a mystery to me (his past has been…not so much his present).

I also started from scratch once again on trying to outline my NaNoNovel. I got through about a page, and then had no idea where to go next. Even though I have made some amazing and insightful strides with part of this story, the other part is still such a blank in my mind. And the part that is shaping up is not nearly enough to be a stand-alone story.

I’m still shaking off some sickness, and need to be back to work tomorrow. My mind has been fuzzy for 3 days, so that most likely has something to do with my difficulty in figuring this story out (at least I hope so). It just seems like every time I think I figure something out, more questions come up. I can’t even say this is the most unprepared for NaNoWriMo I’ve ever felt, but I still don’t like it.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

My NaNo Survival Kit

I figured with NaNoWriMo drawing ever closer, I’d share my own list of items that I’m collecting for my November survival kit. Some are ready to go, some I still need to get ready.

1. Laptop – The laptop itself is ready; in fact, I have a new one this year. It’s a work laptop, which comes home with me, and it’s very nice. The keyboard is a little frustrating though. I can’t say exactly why, but when I type my normal speed, I end up skipping letters way more often than I do on my desktop.

My writing space around my laptop is what I still need to work on. It’s piled high with papers and notebooks, related to both work and writing. I have a wooden filing cabinet near my desk that I plan to use to start organizing work papers, and go from there. That’s on my to-do list for the rest of October

2. Outline – I keep starting on this, and keep running into questions. I may need to stop worrying so much about a physical outline, and at least think through all of the broad points (it helps that I do have a timeline with key events listed out) to make sure there aren’t any more huge questions that need answered now, while I have more time. And this is just one plot thread I’ve been trying to outline. There will be another one, that I just realized yesterday might actually be a bigger thread than I thought, that I haven’t even started thinking about yet. So yeah, lots of work left to do on this, and I have how many days left?

3. Timeline
timeline Vin
I may not have an outline yet, but, as I mentioned, I do have a timeline. Because my 2017 NaNoNovel encompasses several other books, with some intertwining characters and plot points, I had to get this timeline set up a long time ago. Events have moved around a lot since then, even a lot just in the last couple of weeks, but I think it’s set now. And if I don’t end up with much of an outline, this will at least be something.

4. Notebook, pencil, & eraser

007

And believe me, I has all the notebooks!

I still love the tactile feeling of writing by hand. I don’t do it much during NaNo, because it’s just…so…slow. But I always have at least one notebook with me when I leave the house during November, in case I have a chance to write, or even just a stray idea to jot down.

4-b. Thinkink Pen
fidget pen
The pen is metal and bendable, and comes with attachments that are either magnetic, or at least metal. It’s a fidget pen. I’ve noticed a tendency to take apart mechanical pencils when I’m in a meeting, or when I’m writing and have to stop to think. I’ve broken more than my share of pencils that way. This thing has been great!

5. Leftover Halloween candy & other snacks – It’s become a tradition for my husband and me to go out on the day after a major candy holiday (mostly Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter) and get a few bags full at half-off. It’s really the only times we buy candy, and then we split it between the 4 of us in our family, and make it last as long as we can. I tend to stress eat when I’m writing. It’s not a good habit, but one I can’t seem to shake during NaNo.

6. Full stock of coffee – For me, this is about more than the caffeine. I enjoy coffee, cappuccino, or hot chocolate when I’m settling in for my writing time simply for the taste. And the warmth, since it tends to be cold here during November.

7. Thumb drive – Somewhere I have a thumb drive with my writing backed up on it. It’s probably 2 years out of date, since there’s no way I was organized enough to back anything up during last year’s NaNoWriMo. I’ll have to dig it out, catch it up, and then use it to store my writing on. I tend to go back and forth between my laptop and desktop, because the laptop is upstairs in my bedroom where it’s quiet, but sometimes it’s nice to be at my desktop–more comfortable, amongst the people (downsides there, of course), and usually warmer.

8. AlphaSmart Neo

I did an entire blog post on this already, so I won’t go into much detail here. This will be my first NaNo with it, and I am really looking forward to it. I’ve already gotten quite a bit of use out of it during prep time. In fact, after using it for 3 days to “interview” one of my main characters as a way to break through some blocks, I had transferred the writing to my computer, and tried to finish it there. But it just wasn’t the same, and I couldn’t quite focus. This thing may transform the way I do NaNoWriMo. Or it may just be a fun toy. (Though if nothing else, it will definitely come in incredibly useful for writing away from the house.) Either way, I’m hooked!

What’s in your NaNoWriMo survival kit? Are you prepared for November 1st?

Daily Writing Check-in: October 26, 2017

Words/Time: 136 words of writing practice

During the last few weeks as NaNoWriMo approaches, I get to my evening writing time and work on NaNoPrep right up until midnight, when I stop and blog about how much I got done. I’m calling it quits 40 minutes before midnight…and I haven’t done any actual prep. And the 136 words were written last night, after midnight, so I count them for today.

I started coming down sick today. My daughter has been sick for a few weeks (mostly shook it, but still has a sore throat), and my husband has been sick for 4 days, so apparently now it’s my turn. I am having some serious joint aches, along with sore throat, and my brain is a bit muddled. Prep will not happen today, and most likely I’ll feel even worse tomorrow. I hope that’s all, though, because I do still need to do a good amount of prep work, and (when I’m not medicated as I am now), my fingers hurt too much to type.

The 136 words, though, were a pretty big deal, so that’s something. I wrote them starting with a writing prompt from this site. The word I used was “correspondence.” I had recently wondered if my protagonist could write a letter to his favorite person (a very wise man) right before the climax, and if that could make the climax better. I hadn’t decided 100% to do that, though, so I decided to see what that letter would look like.

By the time I’d reached the end, I had another sudden moment of realization (I’ve been having those a lot while working out this story, and it’s incredible!). What if the protagonist has been writing letters to this wise old man the whole story?

See, without getting into too much detail, because I want to go lie down, way back in the day, I had thought this story would be told through journal entries by Vin (who is currently the protagonist). I figured other things would have to be mixed in there too, a sub-plot that was more normal prose, but it made sense. But when I started outlining, I forgot (or maybe just figured I didn’t need to do it that way). I got through a page of broad outline and realized it was just too much detail. Not just in my outline, but it would be too much detail in the story. Way too much happens in this story to tell it all, but that’s okay, because a lot of it has already been told in other stories. So why rehash it, just because it’s a different point of view?

So I went back to the journal entries idea, and it started to feel better again. But then this morning, I thought…letters to the wise old man, instead of journal entries, and suddenly–it felt great!

There’s just one problem though…I don’t think he can be the protagonist anymore. These letters are going to be more introspective than anything exciting or action-y, and I don’t want the story to drag. So I think that sub-plot I mentioned above will need to actually be the “main plot,” with these letters being every 2nd or 3rd chapter.  I have no idea about the flow yet, but something like that maybe.

And the biggest issue with that now is that I’ve spent the last several weeks getting to know Vin, which is totally fine and necessary. But I have not outlined the other plot at all. At all. I know very broad strokes about what happens, but no clue at all what fills between those. And I can’t stress this enough–I am not a pantser. I don’t need a super-detailed outline, but I need a little more than what I know.

And now I’m sick.

I will take advantage of every medicated few hours where my fingers don’t hurt to try to find this plot…well, except when I’m binge-watching Stranger Things with my husband tomorrow. In that way, and that way only, maybe this is a good time to be sick. (Unless I get really sick and can’t even enjoy the show.)

Seriously, this post is crazy long for how little work I did, and the fact that I’m achey and ready to lie down. I think I got an adrenaline shot remembering my excitement this morning. It’s going away now. Time for bed.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 25, 2017

Words/Time: 1.5 hours of NaNoPrep

So I finally went back to my outline for my NaNoNovel, “Vin.” I changed a few things that were decided during my recent musings, made it through a few more plot points, and then I was struck with a sudden thought. It was one of those, “This is a plan I had years ago, it’s been set in stone, but now suddenly, it makes perfect sense to change it a bit to be connected to this story!” moments. I’m sure you’ve had them too. But, once again, it wasn’t just a definite yes. There were questions, reasons that it might not work.

So now that I have realized that talking directly to Vin can produce such clarity, I went right to him. I may have yelled at him a bit for lying to me yesterday (because this new idea went directly against something he said yesterday). But we were cool again by the end. So that killed an hour and a half, but honestly, I’m having a lot of fun with this type of prep work.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 24, 2017

Words/Time: 2 hours & 15 minutes of NaNoPrep

First, I spent 45 minutes finishing my conversation with Vin. By the end, I had a much better grasp on something that need a lot more explanation than I’d taken the time to come up with. I even had a (possibly) brilliant idea for the climax of the story, which I jotted down with a question mark to muse on, because as brilliant as it might seem, it’s way out of left field and potentially makes no sense.

And in fact, today, I added a little more to that question–something that makes it actually possible…but more musing is needed. Meanwhile, I still have an outline that’s barely started.

So I opened up my timeline and…promptly realized that a some of my entries there were really skewed. I thought I’d solved all of this in previous weeks, but there I was again, back to tinkering with my timeline for an hour and a half.

Now let me just say, this is not just the timeline for my NaNoNovel. This is the timeline for 6 potential novels (some drafted, some just solid ideas) that all intertwine in a way that used to bring me glee, and now gives me a headache. There were 2 events (both related to that climactic moment I’m hoping for) that needed to happen in a certain order, but were way off.

Then while fixing those, I realized that two other events (neither directly related to “Vin”) happened in an order that made me very sad. So I moved some things, aged one character a bit, shortened a stretch of time, and lengthened 2 other stretches of time, just to make sure that one of my overall main characters was able to experience a particular moment (a happy moment…she deserves a happy moment).

This involved a lot of shifting groups of events this way or that, until I was satisfied with where everything was in relation to each other. In the end, there are a few things that unintentionally ended up in better position than I’d had them in, and I’m pretty happy with the timeline, I think. If I need to make changes in the future, I think they’ll be small changes.

(By the way, if anyone reading this could use a good timeline program, I highly recommend Aeon Timeline, which is what I use, and the reason I was able to shift my events back and forth so much. Though frankly, I still use the original, as opposed to Aeon 2, because I prefer the way you can see all arcs stacked on each other, as well as which people are involved, at the same time. If this is possible in Aeon 2, I haven’t figured out how.)

Though NaNoWriMo is now about a week away (so all of the other NaNo blogs out there tell me!), I am feeling a little more confident right now. If nothing else, my timeline should provide a decent outline if I run out of time to make the normal outline. And I do think I’ve hit on a way to break through any blocks (it might not work with every story, but for some reason, it works with this one), by just going right to the source and asking Vin himself. It’s really coming together, and I’m starting to get more excited to write this than I thought I’d be.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 23, 2017

Words/Time: 312 words writing practice & 1 hour NaNoPrep

I did some writing practice with prompts, which is where the words came from. Some of it was about Vin, some of it was not.

Then I worked for 1 hour trying to make sense of the gaping plot hole I discovered while outlining yesterday. I had hit on some possible answers during my brainstorming yesterday, but I couldn’t quite organize my thoughts. So I got out my Neo and I did something that I’ve rarely done before. I started asking questions of Vin to see if he could help me make sense of my questions.

I still feel a little odd when I do this (or maybe just admitting that I do this), but it worked wonders. I still have some more to figure out, but his explanations for some of what I knew had to happen, but didn’t know why, made sense. I’ll definitely have to continue this line of questioning later.

I am acutely aware of how close NaNoWriMo is, and I don’t feel remotely prepared. Hopefully this crunch time will really drive my creativity.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 22, 2017

Words/Time: 319 words & 45 minutes NaNoPrep

I did some writing practice with a prompt, which is where the words came from. It was completely unrelated to my NaNoNovel (well, that’s not true, because it was still in that world, just nothing that really relates to the NaNoNovel).

Then I worked for 45 minutes, starting from scratch on an outline. After realizing I was going completely the wrong direction with my outline, I started over. That led me to my timeline of events, and trying to figure out what on earth Vin is thinking, and why he does some of what he does. I was starting at yet another gaping plot hole, so I stopped outlining and started asking questions to try to fix this hole. That’s where I left off.

There’s a big part of me that wonders if the only way this novel will work is to alter a lot of “givens” that have happened in other stories I’ve drafted. It’s not a pleasant thought.

 


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

Daily Writing Check-in: October 20, 2017

Words/Time: undefinable amount of work done

So first, I did spend about 12 minutes talking through my issues with the outline for “Vin” (my NaNoNovel) that I started yesterday. It started with just expressing my frustrations to my husband, and then I think I worked out some of the problem. So it counts!

Last night, or rather early this morning, I stayed up way too late working on a project that came to me unexpectedly and sort of took over my attention for several hours.

I recently decided that at some point soon (maybe before NaNo…maybe after) I want to write up a post that attempts to explain the tangled mess of stories I’m working on. I have 6 storylines in mind that are all in the same story world, contain the same characters in varying roles, and largely all happen around the same time, and intertwine in various ways. There will probably be more than 6, but there are 6 that are developed enough to mention.

I don’t know how well I can explain this without giving spoilers, but I’m going to try. Last night/this morning, I got it in my mind to come up with an aesthetic for all of them, to add to that post. I made one last week for my NaNoNovel, and it’s the first time I’ve ever created something like that. I enjoyed it, and even enjoyed the way it made me think about the themes or visual aspects of my story. So I started looking for images for each of the other 5 storylines that I plan to post about. Here’s a sneak peek at one of them:

Pithea cropped

Yes, I’d rather be able to say I did some work on my outline, or even some more writing practice. But I didn’t get home from work until around 10:30 this evening, and I still had to eat supper. It’s been a rough week at work (lots of evening meetings), and I already told myself I wouldn’t push it if work was causing issues with getting to my writing. Making some visual representations of my stories is fun and still in the spirit of writing work, so I’m counting it.

 


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)