Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

To NaNo or Not to NaNo, That is the Question

croppedquinceOctober again. And, a lot of my writing friends are talking about NaNo. And no, we’re not talking about Mork and Mindy. NaNo is short for NaNoWriMo which is short for National Novel Writing Month. If you’ve never heard of this, you really ought to check it out. Click this for a link to the official NaNo website.

You might be looking at the photo to the left and wondering why a post about NaNoWriMo is illustrated with four lovely quince. I don’t have just four. It’s more like FOUR HUNDRED quince. It feels like it at least. They are here to illustrate that I have many things I need and want to do, quince being the most sweet-smelling of them, that compete with my writing time.

My quince trees always ripen in October. This year it’s a little earlier than usual. I’ve already put up three batches of jelly, poached a few, and made membrillo. I’ve given some to others who appreciate their subtle charm and beauty, and I have plans for the rest. But, these plans take time. You can’t just toss them in the freezer in a baggy to wait for a more opportune moment. The fuzz must be washed off, the ends trimmed and the fruit cooked, peeled, chopped or whatever. I’m shredding some for more quince liquor (a tasty hit for my drinking friends.) I’m going to pressure can some for savory uses throughout the year. My canner can only handle so many jars at a time, my hands can only peel or cut so many of these hard gems a day.

The ever-present question of time management and whether I can juggle everything going on while doing a NaNo project. Nearly 2,000 words a day don’t appear on the screen without some thoughtful planning. And that has to include things like quince, laundry, cooking, parenting, being married, etc. I’m also taking a night class every Tuesday that requires preparation. While it is a writing class, its focus is on editing and refining. I am supposed to be editing and re-writing. I fill my writing time with criticism and doubt over every word choice and plot twist. And minutiae like a character’s hair and eye color shifting from one chapter to another. Tracking and changing all of that is hard, time-consuming, and sometimes boring. I am not loving editing my own work.

NaNo is all about the abandonment of self-criticism, the free-form crazed writing that gets done at break-neck speed with little regard to punctuation or repetition. No editing, no re-reading, just writing and getting that first crappy draft out there. It’s a completely different process than editing a rough into something more polished.

NaNo is a distraction from that hard work I am doing on a novel whose arc is known and familiar. It’s filled with the unknown and the process of meeting new characters, new plot twists and new ideas. New words. Fun.

To NaNo or not to NaNo….



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The NaNoWriMo Thing, Again

It’s November, and my third year of doing the “NaNoWriMo” thing. Last year, well I blogged about last year. here, here, here, and here. The odd thing I just noticed is my current wordcount shows up on last year’s posts. You’ll have to take my word for it I did the 100K plus words last year. That was such an insane thing to do, I have no such plans to attempt a double-duty a second time around. One will be more than enough for me, thank you.

This morning, I woke up to a total of 5,000 words and thinking maybe I’d bail on the project. After all, the whole idea of NaNoWriMo for me has often been to just get me writing again. And, I’ve been writing my fingers off pretty constantly without NaNoWriMo for an excuse. I’ve made 53 blog posts since January 2011. That’s roughly 40,000 words alone. Short stories I’ve been writing add up to roughly to another 50,000. I didn’t do anything with last year’s messes I created during NaNoWriMo. One could be edited down to a 25,000 word short story with relative ease. The other could be beefed up to become a full novella. Add to that, I have the previous year’s NaNo project gathering dust, if that’s what happens when a project is completely digitized, and the novel I started several years ago in the UW Writing Program I took. I have about a dozen more ideas sketched out in small word documents, waiting to be rediscovered when I have time. So, instead of two NaNo projects, I’m doing one NaNo project plus multiple short stories under both my regular name and my pen name, hosting a book tour stop on my erotica blog, blogging here, blogging there, and trying to keep up with all the social media involved in this. I’m tweeting occasionally and following other writers in both spheres of writing.

What happened between this morning’s questioning of my sanity at doing this again with only 5,000 words on the 8th day and this post? Magic. That thing that happens when you sit down to write and the words flow. Right now, I am a little giddy with a word count high. Some of the six thousand words I whipped out this morning are put together in well-crafted sentences–a bonus! Editing during NaNo will slow you down, so the whole idea is to get that first draft (the one Anne Lamotte calls the vomit draft) out there. It’s nice to re-read just a little bit and see some nice…erm…chunks…that I can use someday. Granted, I did play a little game with conjunctions, after all why not get two words for “you are” instead of one? But it was one of those “good days” when it comes to writing. I might even go a do a little more.

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Four More Days…

Another lovely diversion...Thanksgiving!

Gah. Only four more days of NaNoWriMo. I know the hubby is looking forward to not hearing me say, “I need to do my wordcount.” The kids are looking forward to me paying some attention to them. I know the youngest is tired of me saying, “No, I’m writing. Play by yourself” or, “Ask your sister to do something with you.” It’s not my fault that it snowed on Monday and knocked out school for Tuesday and Wednesday leaving us all at home, together.

This blog post is a complete procrastination bit on my part. While the few hundred words I post here are not something I can count toward my daily total, I’m simply and overtly avoiding writing on my NaNo project. The one is going along smoothly and is above the wordcount for the day. It’s easy to revert to writing a hot and steamy sex scene just to make the count for the day. Add that to a plot that actually make sense and is developing into a “real story” makes that one rather easy to write. (Maybe one day I’ll share the details more openly.)

This lovely graphic shows days in red where I posted no wordcount to the NaNoWriMo site. The yellow is where I posted some word count, and the green where I did the minimum wordcount or managed to get caught up to the “recommended” number. (And, for some reason, I can’t get the link to align to the right, so it looks sort of funky.)

My literary fiction piece is flailing. The topic sounded like it had merit. The idea has something to it, yet, I’m just not finding it. The NaNo month gives me ample opportunity to explore various scenarios and to see what works. I’m thinking that it also helps me see where a dud is a dud. After all, not every story I have is going to become a fully fleshed novel. At this point, I can see re-writing the NaNo project as a really fine short story. It’s just not…enough…to make a full novel out of. At least, I don’t think it is. I’m going to finish the word count just because I need to, but at this point it is painful going.

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Halfway Through NaNo, Accident and New Yarn Shop, Oh my!

Halfway through the month of November, and my wordcount is just right where it is supposed to be. I’ve got a total of 25,653 words for the one project and 25,105 with the other. I’ve already decided to just do one project next year because this is a little bit ridiculous. I thought briefly about jamming the two together and calling it done, but that would be messing with the stats on the NaNoWriMo site, and only one of my accounts on the site would get credit for finishing the task. I can’t have that.

I’ve been writing regularly at home for quite a while now, and the 4,000 words every day hasn’t been impossible, but if I don’t get it done during the work day, I do the writing after dinner. This cuts into the alone time that I spend with my husband after the youngest is in bed, so I can see it’s not purely sustainable for the long run. Once December comes around, getting back into a routine where I’m regularly knocking of 2-3,000 words and a minimum of 1K a day will seem like a piece of cake. And, I’ve got plenty of fresh material to work from if I choose to continue with either of these project.s

The truck.....

The things that get me off my schedule are usually unplanned events. Like the accident we were in on Sunday. It took two hours to clear the truck and all the paperwork. We were extremely lucky that we were hit right on the wheel base of the truck and not on the driver’s side door. Our bruises are, I hope, superficial.

Given that my one project is about a man who is injured and put into a coma, I decided to use the accident as impetus for an alternative beginning to the novel. I got the angst and shakiness out by writing a much more horrific sort of accident with care-flight helicopters whisking someone away to Harborview. Writing an alternative accident made me feel even more lucky to get away with a few bruises and a broken knitting needle.

I was using my size 6. The needle broke right at the metal part.

I knit when I can if Bill is driving, and I happened to be using one of my lovely Knitpick’s harmony needles. Sigh. It was my only size six circular needle, and I ended up replacing it yesterday by visiting a new yarn shop in Kirkland called Serial Knitters. It’s wonderful to have a new shop of this quality on the Eastside. I was bummed to lose Hilltop Yarn East, and am very happy to have found a very decent sort of replacement. As soon as NaNoWriMo is over, I’ve got a boatload of knitting to do for the holidays, and I found some really pretty yarns to work with. (Yeah, I know I’ve got stash, but nothing in my stash would work for the projects I want to do for Christmas.)


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NaNoWriMo is Underway

I started writing with a pace that surprises me. I’ve been thinking through my novel concept for a few weeks, and decided on the project I’ll be focusing on this month on Sunday, the day before the program started. Last year, I worked on something that had a full-fleshed outline and intricate plot twists already worked out. This year, it is more of a vague idea of what I wanted to do.

My daughter has accused me of picking another “depressing subject,” but, hey, I am writing literary fiction. I don’t find the topic as depressing as I do fascinating. My main character is a woman who has a husband who is in an accident and suffers brain injury. When he returns home, there are subtle differences. At the moment, I’m writing a lot of stuff that I doubt will ever bee seen in print. I decided to go ahead and write through the accident, hospital stay and similar ‘back-story’ elements into scene for my own needs. I’ve spent the last few days putting a woman through some rather sudden and painful changes, but it’s not all dreary reading or writing.

I’ve been intrigued with the work of Oliver Sacks for years. His work on brain trauma and injuries highlights cases of the most unusual sort, and make for fascinating reading. I’m thinking about the kind of changes that the Jim, the current name for the hubby, will have. I can’t take every interesting thing I’ve read about and give it to the one character, but I’ll probably put together two or three things that will have Jessica wondering who her husband has become. I don’t know where this going, really, but I don’t have to know that. The characters and story will evolve as I write them. The only thing I’m worried about for November is the daily task of writing nearly 2,000 words every day. And it doesn’t include blog posts.

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