Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 Nano Winner!

Final Word Count: 50,098

I can't believe I made it! I am just ecstatic right now. This is my first Nano and first novel. 

What I am happy about: 

I discovered I love writing and want to pursue it, possibly as a career. Although I won't do it full-time until I can afford to. Won't be in the near future, but I am willing to give it a try. 

I got into the habit of writing every single day. I feel like I can keep that up, at least one week days. My goal is 500 words a day. Seems easy now!

About to plan my second novel. It's an idea I have had in my head for a while. Still kind of vague but excited about seeing where it takes me. I think now that I have gotten a taste of what it is like to write an entire novel, this story will come out much longer. I was struggling at the end with the first novel. 

Proud of myself for accomplishing this feat. I never thought I could. Especially while in school full-time and seven months pregnant. Now I have no excuses for future years. I hope I can do this again in the summer months.

What I am unsure/uneasy about: 

Is this first novel any good?? It is based on an idea I got just a week or two before November. It did not fit the genre of my other ideas or what I thought my first novel would be. There is a lot of research I have to do to make sure the end product is great. I just hope it was not a waste of time. I really want to make it believable and compelling and accurate. Right now, I am pretty sure it is not. But for now, I'm letting it marinate for a good few months until I go back to it, revise, fix, check facts, etc.

How did the rest of you do? How do you feel? What are your plans now that Nano is over? Are you going to relax and take a break for a while or keep going? 

Keep writing! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Almost there...

Hello fellow writers,

I don't have much time to post today. As you can see, I was able to stay on track over the holidays. I'm pretty surprised considering I went shopping on Black Friday (not easy when you're seven months pregnant!) and spend lots of time with family. However, I made time every day to write, mostly in small chunks. I'm pretty proud of myself for keeping up. Now I'm less than 5K away from winning my first Nanowrimo. Can't wait! Going to spend today writing (hopefully I can get in a couple thousand words), and catching up on assignments (dreading this part of my day!). I can't wait until the winter holidays begin in about a week so I can spend more time writing, not to mention preparing for Baby's arrival in January! Good luck to everyone who is also on the brink of 50K and congratulations to those who have already won! 

Keep writing :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Finally Caught Up!

Hi everyone,

After writing well over the daily goal the past few days and over three thousand words throughout today, I AM FINALLY CAUGHT UP! What a relief! I can finally relax a little bit!

Not to mention I should be hitting 40K tomorrow, another huge milestone. I think that after I hit 40K, the 50K will come quickly. It will be a piece of cake after reaching 80% of my goal.

So how did the small 500 word chunks of writing an hour work out? The method worked well on Monday and today. Yesterday, not so much. It's a good method to use when you have a whole day to yourself, but it doesn't quite work when you have errands to run. So yesterday I just sat down and did all my writing in one sitting. But I really like how you do all of your writing in small pieces. Those small word counts really add up!

Now to keep this up. I plan on writing over the daily word count goal anyways so I can get ahead. I would love to finish early. How's your Nano going?

Happy Thanksgiving! And keep writing!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Good Way to Catch Up...

Hi everyone,

So I wrote consistently over the weekend. I even got in over 2500 words on Friday! So pretty proud of myself, especially since last night I had 800 words and really wanted to stop. But I met my word count. :)

As you can see, I am on the brink of reaching 30K. I should have reached this milestone on Friday. Nonetheless, I am excited to be reaching it today when I do my word count.

Today, I also begin the catchup phase of the Nano process. I am a few days behind, but hopefully, by the end of the week I will be either entirely caught up or even ahead. I plan on writing at least 2500 words a day to reach that goal. I feel like since this is my first Nano (and first novel) ever, I really need to win. I think the first Nano tends to set up future successes or failures. Also, if I can do this while seven months pregnant, I know I can do it no matter what.

I am also going to use a new strategy to catch up and spread my writing throughout the day. I think this will help me get in a lot more words. Hopefully way more than 2500.

I think I was randomly googling Nanowrimo the other day when I came across Spacejock's
take on Nanowrimo. He has a really good idea on how to catch up which I plan on using this week. It's best if you have at least one whole day to do this or maybe half a day. I will be doing it over five days, starting today.

Basically, for every hour of the day, from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, you are responsible for writing 500 words an hour. After writing 500 words for that hour, you can do whatever you want until the next hour begins. He says it should take about 20-30 minutes each hour to do this, but I think that if you do a word sprint, it should go faster than that. He recommends starting at 8 am and stopping at 10 pm, but I guess it's up to you. Following his recommendation, though, would get you 7,500 words in one day!

I plan on doing this starting at 10 am and ending roughly around four or five in the afternoon since I also have homework and household chores to attend to. This would get me at least 4,000 words in one day. I should definitely get caught up and then some :)

I know a lot of us are going to have at least a day or two off this week because of the holidays. Are you guys using the day to get caught up or ahead? Or are you expecting writing to be impossible on Thursday? If you are going to spend extra time writing, what methods are you using? If you're laughing at the thought of having time to write on Thanksgiving Day, feel free to vent your feelings if needed :)

Happy writing and watch my percentage rise this week!

Friday, November 18, 2011

When Plans Go Haywire...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I apologize for going MIA in the last couple of weeks. Professors have piled on the homework before the holidays, family issues have come up these last three days... but everything is good now. I have no major projects due before December. They are done! And family issues come and go so you just have to deal with them as they come.

Until the last three days, I have made Nano a priority and gotten my words in at the cost of keeping this blog updated. But I figured writing was more important. Then, for the past three days, I have not written at all. I think one morning I got 800 words in and then everything happened. But that's okay. Since I haven't been able to really get alone time to work on Nano, I've gotten caught up and even ahead with all of my schoolwork.

Starting today and throughout Thanksgiving Break this upcoming week, I will be spending lots of time writing so I can catch back up and hopefully finish early.  When life happens and things don't go as planned, you just have to adapt and make it a learning experience. Here are some tips that are working for me:

1. Plan for the worst. This is something I should have worked on more. I know lots of Nanoers got a few thousand words ahead or more in the first few days. I was still new to the game so I was struggling just to meet the required daily word count. Now that I have established a writing habit (and I know this is the case for most of you), it's easier for me to get the words on the page. I found that the second week, I was going over at least a few hundred words without realizing it and got ahead. But it wasn't enough. So always get off to a really strong start so you have breathing room later on. 

2. On days that you can, write a little bit over your daily writing goal. After you begin Nano or any other writing work, you'll find that some days you will have a bit more time and be more into your writing. So don't stop at your daily writing goal on those days! Throw in an extra three hundred words or so. These will add up over time and make it easier to catch up if something occurs.

3. Keep a list of daily writing goals and other things you have to do. Cross things off as you complete them. I love checking things off on my list of things to do and list of daily writing goals. It makes me feel accomplished and less stressed. It's also a way to keep yourself accountable and organized. You will have much greater chance of reaching your goals and not having things creep up on you. So keep a little notebook with things to do lists and daily/long-term writing goals. And look at it every day.

4. When life happens, and you can't write, try to get ahead on other things you have to do. This makes more time for catching up on writing later. In my case, I found it really hard to set aside time for writing when I was having to deal with family issues. I was all over the place and kind of emotional. So I focused on homework. I got ahead with all of my assignments during the three days I didn't write. For you, it can be creating frozen dinners for the next few days, cleaning, or job-related things. Whatever. Try to get other things out of the way if you have time but can't focus on writing. That way, when you are at a 110% again, you'll have a lot done and can spend so much more time writing.

5. When life happens, don't beat yourself up. Do what you have to do and get back in the game. I felt really guilty that I didn't write for three days. It almost made me want to quit right here and give up. It was too much, too hard, I thought. But then I realized how many words I had already written: more than I have ever done so. Then I thought, "I'm upset because I only wrote 800 words in the past three days and I'm behind." Wait a second. I never would have been able to write 800 words in three days before. I never would have written 23,000 words on a novel before. I'm still doing really good. And I can still finish. So I'm going to finish. You can too. It's okay to feel a bit down because you are behind, but think of how much you have accomplished already. Don't throw it away. Keep writing!

6. When the storm blows over, adjust your daily writing goals. If I want to finish on time, I'm going to have to write more each day to make up for missed days. That's okay. Divide your remaining word count by the number of days you have left to reach your goal. That's your new daily word count goal. Yes, it's going to take a bit of sacrifice but most of the time, it's doable. Or set a new total word count goal, one that is realistic for you. Also, try to set aside a few days where you will try to focus solely on your writing and go above and beyond your new daily writing word count goal. You'll feel great when you catch up.

7. Get back into your writing groove. Get back into your writing routine. Or try a new approach to see if it freshens things up for you and helps you write more. I'm a fan of sprints and word wars. I have also heard that writing out of order helps tremendously. The important thing is that you are consistently sitting down somewhere to write for a consistent amount of time. Before you know it, it'll be second nature once again.

8. Reward yourself extra for meeting your goals even in the face of adversity. Everyone deserves a reward when they meet a long-term goal, especially if that goal is writing a freaking novel. How many people can do that?? And you deserve an even bigger reward if you were able to accomplish your goal when your plans went haywire. So what if you're a few days late? Or maybe you still managed to finish on time. If you were going to celebrate with a fun night out with friends, do something else as well. Splurge on something. Go watch your favorite movie. Sleep in. Eat at your favorite restaurant. Start on that other novel you've been itching to write. You definitely deserve it. (I'm already thinking of what I'm going to do when I finish this novel on time.)

Expect my word count to be a lot higher next time! Let me know what you think or how you have adjusted to writing plans going haywire. And I always want to hear your Nano updates. As always, happy writing!

Monday, November 7, 2011

What I'm Learning from Nano...

Nano Word Count: 8277
Nano Percentage: 17%

So it's been almost a week, and I haven't given up yet. I'm actually wondering why I didn't commit to this years ago...

What have I learned so far? 

That Nano, or writing for that matter, isn't hard. It's just about sitting down and doing it. That's how you become a writer. That's how you become a good writer.

I have learned that I need to give myself more credit than I have in the past. I always thought that I didn't have it in me to be a writer, that it wasn't meant to be. Yet here I am, writing my first novel, all because I chose to sit down and do it. 

I also learned it's easy to get behind on your wordcount. Especially when you're on babysitting duty all of Saturday. I wrote only 54 words that day.

But it's up to you to catch back up again. I'm a little behind as you can see, but I'm determined to catch back up and then some.

One thing that I have found that really works for me? Word sprints. Makes sense since I am a very competitive person. The daily goal of 1667 words was taking me a little over an hour to accomplish. Sunday evening, I did three ten minute word sprints and got over 1400 words! So that's what I'm sticking to from now on :)

What challenges are you guys finding during Nano? Is life getting in the way? What days work  best for you? I find that weekdays I actually write more than on weekends when most people get ahead.

Also, what have you found that is working for you?

Keep me posted on your Nano writing this month! And keep writing!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'm Still Alive...

I never thought I'd say this's the second day of Nano, and I'm still going strong! So far I have 3,707 words!

Granted, it wasn't easy sitting down and writing. In fact, I tried talking myself out of doing Nano all day yesterday while I was at school.

Funny how you are your own worst enemy sometimes.

I got home, though, took a nap because I was exhausted, and then sat my butt down at the computer to type. The words came and went in batches at first. I would look at the word counter and groan a little because I still wasn't at the 1667 word mark. Same thing happened today. However, both days I also noticed that I hit and went beyond the target word count without even realizing it. Both days, I had to find a good place to stop so I could continue the next day.

Why not keep going, you say? And write 2, 3, or even 6K words like some of you are doing?

Well, that's the thing about being in college. Besides going to class and to my practicum, there's still a huge load of homework to do when I get home. Not to mention dinner won't cook itself. So I'm okay with just hitting the 1667 mark if that means I get to shower and sleep. :)

On another note, I was kind of worried that I didn't have enough scenes laid out for my novel. I am definitely not the pantsing type. I freak out if I have a blank page in front of me. I simply can't write without some kind of plan. But I started writing anyway, telling myself I only needed around 2K words each scene to reach the 50K mark and then some for a decent-sized novel. Yesterday, none of my scenes hit that many words. Heck, I worked on three scenes, and together, they were less than two thousand words. I told myself I would figure it out along the way, though, hoping I didn't simply run out of stuff to write about partway through November.

Today, I feel a lot better about the situation. I added five more scenes to my virtual corkboard on Scrivener. If this keeps up, I should definitely have enough to write about along the way as I find scenes I need to add to the story.

Enough about me, though. How is Nano going for you?

Pleasantly surprised at your word count accomplishments or writing quality? Personally, I know my writing right now sucks, but I'll take it.

Any of you coming across any difficulties? How are you solving them?

Keep me posted and happy writing!