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!)

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 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 17, 2017

Words/Time: 647 words

I continued where I left off yesterday, freewriting using a card in my Writer Emergency Pack. I’m still on the first question (out of 3), but at least I’m onto the final character that I felt was main enough to send my “hero” on a date with. This one is interesting, because it’s her own husband. But I get to explore the beginning of their relationship, which so far has not been put into story form. I keep thinking it’s not helping me plan my NaNoNovel, but these characters will be in “Vin,” so it’s all 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 16, 2017

Words/Time: 1002 words

I started freewriting using a card in my Writer Emergency Pack, and it went on a while. In fact, out of the 3 questions the card asked, I didn’t even get through #1 in 45 minutes and 1002 words. The card discussed relationships between characters, even characters who are strangers, and set forth the challenge of picturing your hero on a date with each of the major characters in the story. While I’m not sure my story has an easily defined “hero,” I made do. That required 4 date scenarios. I got partway through #3. It was fun, though, so I’ll finish it tomorrow. I suppose it may not be helping me outline my NaNoNovel, but it’s nice to just write again.


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 15, 2017

Words/Time: 3 hours, 53 minutes

This was a huge leap forward, considering how my last few days have been. I definitely have a lazy Sunday to thank for that. They won’t always be this prolific, that much I know.

The majority of this time was spent working on my overall story timeline (for several books in one story world), updating/inputting the information for “Vin” that wasn’t already in there. But before I could do that, I had to put in the information for a book that I’d yet to even add to my timeline.

I wrote a very, very rough draft of what I was calling “Jonathan and the Book” for NaNo 2015. It wasn’t even complete, though it basically had an ending, because I jumped from a later middle spot to the climax because I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I needed to keep writing, ’cause…NaNo. I could put enough of it into the timeline to know where the events of “Vin” that come after it will fall, and they can always be moved later.

While I was doing this, I had to read through the draft of “Jonathan and the Book” so I could mark days, and I had an epiphany! I now have a name for that book–“The Seeger Book.” This makes me very happy.

An hour of my time was spent writing out some brainstorming for a giant, gaping question that starts out the sequence of events in “Vin,” and I think I have it mostly closed up. There are still a few minor questions, but I think I can move on.

I also spent a portion of this time organizing the labels and colors in my timeline. I use Aeon Timeline (so far, I still prefer the original to Aeon 2), and you can color-code your events. I have a color for each book, and in the case of at least one book, 2 colors to differentiate 2 distinct arcs. You can also separate events by arcs, but my arcs were out of order, based on the order I tend to think of them in my head. So I spent some time getting them in order, and fixing the colors. I had originally just assigned random colors, but I was running out of distinctly different colors that were easy to read. So I messed with that a bit. It was kind of fun (I’m messy in real life, but I enjoy organizing things digitally), but felt like a waste of time until I realized how much this is going to help me down the line, to have the timeline a lot more organized. So it counts.

My next step is to start outlining, using the timeline of events. I want to keep doing writing practice, answering character questions, and other things to continue to learn about Vin’s motives, but even if I don’t always know why he does things, I know when he does them (though I’ve made up my mind that even that is subject to change, whether it will force me to change an already “finished” book or not).

This is a crazy long writing check-in…but that’s because I did so much for once! I’ll be busier the next several days, so my updates will probably be short again for a while.


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 8, 2017

Words/Time: 330 words of free writing, followed by 14 minutes of NaNoPrep work.

A few days ago I read a post on a site I have really come to like, and the author had given a word list as a way to inspire some writing. I’ve been wanting to do some free writing alongside my NaNoPrep since I returned to writing a few days ago, but haven’t had a chance to go and dig out my various ways to begin free writing. Word lists have always been a favorite type of writing prompt for me, and today was no exception.

Then I opened my “Pursuit of Power” outline in Scrivener and started looking at what it would be like to cut out the first 1/4 of the story, so the true plot for this book could get started a lot sooner. I also plan to incorporate a character who’s supposed to be a secondary main character in the story more, so I’ve been toying with the idea of starting the story more from her perspective. I didn’t get real far, because I got to my writing late today, but at least it’s something.

 


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 7, 2017

Words/Time: 2:17 hours finishing the 2 mini projects I started in the last 2 days.

So I got 2 stories into my timeline that weren’t there, one of which took some serious fitting in. And then I continued figuring out who I wanted to age 3 years, and who needed a different amount for whatever reason.

Now that these annoying issues are done and fixed, tomorrow I will go back to looking at the post-first-draft outline of “Pursuit of Power” and see what scenes need to be held over for a future book and which ones are important for the real story of this first book. Hopefully I’ll be left with a decent-length book when I’m done. And hopefully this will help me decide what to write for NaNoWriMo.

goal tracker day 7


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!)