A Very Happy NaNoWinner!

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Aw yeah, I am a winner! Fifty thousand right on the nose.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Even if you’re one of my lovely globals. It’s just another reason to celebrate, right?

I am so tired, you guys. I’ve been writing 3,000 words per day for the last week to get here. Now I don’t even know what to do with myself. There’s a whole world of forgotten leisure activities out there waiting for me.

At present, I’m celebrating with a nimble galliard.

 

Get Out of Your House.

 

In this crazy month of messed up sleep patterns and gosh-awful writing that values quantity over quality against all the rules of art, it can sometimes be tempting to bury your laptop, notebook, fountain pen, clay tablet, cave wall, or whatever your preferred writing tools happen to be in a deep hole and simply dive headfirst into bed, with no intentions of emerging until December 1st.

Goodness golly gosh, Hemingway would be so proud of that sentence.

Anyway, you can all relate to this temptation, right? Or even the much simpler and more responsible temptation of diving into a book, or even into neglected housework, if the opportunity presents itself. And let’s face it, in our own homes, those temptations rear their attractive heads on a daily basis.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your writing is to get out of your house. Get away from all the things you’d rather do than string words together. Get away from all the chores that are clamoring to be done.

For some lucky people who live in places blessed with beautiful weather, this might be easy. They can just get out into nature and be alone with their pen. This, of course, doesn’t work if you live in a rain puddle like I do.

For other focused souls, this might mean going down to the local coffee shop with a big pair of headphones and clacking away at their keyboard until they get somewhere. Unfortunately, I’m a people watcher, so I get easily distracted when I try to write in public spaces.

But here’s where I get lucky: I’m known in my little community as the girl who works from home, and is therefore usually available for house/pet sitting at a moment’s notice. It’s been pretty handy at a couple of points, especially for a person like me who doesn’t feel naturally comfortable with using other people’s stuff.

During NaNoWriMo, I’ve been called upon to go and spend the day at a good friend’s house several times so their young dog doesn’t have to stay in her kennel for an extended period of time while the owners are gone. This has worked out great, because not only do I get to hang out with this cutie,

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but I also know that, once I convince her that my pen is not for eating, I can get a lot of words written, simply due to the fact that I bring nothing with me except my writing tools, and I have no other potential responsibilities other than tossing a tennis ball occasionally.

It’s a method that works for me, anyway.

So if you’re finding yourself easily distracted, or tempted to do anything, even cleaning toilets, rather than be forced to dredge words out of your own mind, find yourself an accommodating puppy to chill with.

Or just go out somewhere, whatever works for you.

This is Where I Panic.

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Week two is the week for telling myself I can’t possibly be on track to get 50,000 words written. Even though the word count tracker is telling me I’m slightly ahead of schedule, I don’t believe it. Gahhhh.

Deep breaths are necessary.

I’ve noticed something else about myself during NaNo. I have a serious attitude problem when I’m deep in a writing project. I’ve been getting huffy with anybody who has the audacity to take up space in my brain. Which is really unfair, obviously.

A key thing for me to work on through the rest of this month will be in not losing my perspective on the fact that other people have a right to some of my time, and they also have a right to expect basic politeness.

And this doesn’t only apply to my external behavior. I think, barring a few lapses, I’ve been doing okay with that. It’s mostly an internal thought issue. While this may not seem like a major problem, it really is. Whether or not our thoughts are apparent to others, they are affecting us. Who wants to go around having grumpy thoughts about other people all the time? Probably nobody; yet a lot of us do it all the time.

I can’t imagine this has a marvelous effect on our writing.

So that’s my goal for the rest of this week, and the rest of the month, and hopefully forever: Be nice to people, and don’t panic.

Inspiration? During NaNo?

You’re kidding, right? You expect me to be inspired/inspiring during the month of November? And to talk about it in an intelligible and enthusiastic manner?

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You guys, I’ve been staring at this screen with unfocused eyes for far too long, listening to Bon Iver because that’s about as much as I can handle.

Go out and find your own dang inspiration.

But in other news, I’m getting close to the 15,000 words mark.

It Is Nearly Upon Us.

National Novel Writing Month, that is.

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Since this is my last Thursday post before the madness begins, I’m going to use the opportunity to let you lovely people know what will be going down in my corner of the web. I will still be posting my regular Tuesday inspiration posts, at least until further notice (depending on how crazy everything gets), but my Thursday posts will most likely be very short, and completely dedicated to NaNoWriMo. They might be updates on my progress, short excerpts of the more hilariously heinous bits of word-garbage I will be spewing, or survival tips I’m learning the hard way.

There may possibly be inarticulate groans as well.

So that’s what will be going down for the next month, folks. Enjoy the ride.

Thankful.

Oh hey guys, Thanksgiving is actually on one of my blog days, isn’t it?

I was a little distracted, because guess what?

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Oh, yeah. This happened.

For the second year in a row, I finished my NaNovel on Thanksgiving.

I am feeling very, very thankful.

(I was planning on writing you all a nice, long post about gratitude, and leaving behind the things that are holding you back from living life to the full, but you know what? I’m kind of sick of writing today. Can you blame me? Sorry, folks, but it’s just not going to happen today. Maybe some other time.)

The Joy of “More Work To Do.”

I passed the 35,000 word mark today, which means that (deep breath) I have less than 15,000 words left to write. It’s a crazy thought.

What is even more crazy, for me, is that even as I write at this ridiculous, break-neck pace, I can see that I will have a lot more work to do after the month is over, adding in new scenes, filling out flat characters, and generally boosting the story up from a list of scenes into a narrative.

And I’m over the clouds about it.

Over the last year, I’ve found it so easy to become discouraged, to feel like I wasn’t growing as a writer at all, because all I had to mark my trail was lots and lots of crumpled sheets of paper. But now that I’m back where I started a year ago, in the middle of NaNoWriMo, I can see that I have come so far.

At this point last year, I was just struggling to figure out where my characters should go next, let alone what I was going to do with the draft once I was finished with it. Now, I can look my draft straight in the eye, and say, “I know exactly what I’m going to do with you next.”

That’s one of the most joyful feelings I have ever experienced.

Several Shout-Outs.

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First off, shout-out to me for OFFICIALLY MAKING IT TO 25,000 WORDS!!!

That’s the halfway mark, people. And it happened right at the end of a sentence, which couldn’t have been more perfect. I had a goal of getting three days ahead of schedule, just in case I ended up needing to be a leader at a Young Life camp this weekend, so that was hugely motivating. Now it looks like I won’t be going, which is a relief, but it still feels good to have a word count cushion in case drought sets in at any point.

The way I racked up so many words in a short space of time was to employ the classic “Word-Sprint” technique. I set a timer for half an hour at a stretch, and raced myself to see how many words I could fit into that time, always trying to beat my personal best (914 words, so far). I don’t know if this would work for just anybody, but it certainly suits my competitive personality.

Secondly, it is ML Appreciation Day in NaNo land, so I would like to give a huge shout-out to the Municipal Liaisons for my area, wickedshelly and scoutlady13. You ladies are awesome for doing what you do. Thanks!

Current mood:

Five Days In…

Well, here we are, folks! Five days into NaNoWriMo, and still alive. I have a bit of personal horn-tooting to do… I made it to 10,000 words today.

That’s a good thing, as I just might have to give up three days in the middle of the month to take some teens to a weekend Young Life camp. The farther ahead I can get, the better. I’m trying not to stress about it, however, as I love my job as a Young Life leader, and if I can be a blessing to my kids that’s obviously way more important than making some artificial deadline. I keep telling myself that, anyway, and I mostly believe it.

Anyhow, the first couple of days were pretty rough going, due to the fact that I didn’t get nearly enough prep work done… However, I’ve been working on backstory and supporting characters and whatnot as I go, so it’s getting a lot more smooth. Yesterday I really felt like I was hitting my stride, in spite of the fact that I chose to frivle* most of the day away with two of my dear friends, Beth and Michaela, at the mall.

Or maybe I hit my stride because of it. I got up much, much earlier than I usually do, and started writing before my eyes were able to open all the way, and I managed to hammer out 500 words without even thinking about it. (If you know me at all, you know that that is pretty much unheard of. I think. It’s just what I do. I literally cannot turn off my brain, under normal circumstances.) It brought to mind the classic Ernest Hemingway quote, “Write drunk, edit sober.” I never expected to test the wisdom of that quote myself, since I’m a total prude and don’t drink, but I think writing half asleep probably has the same effect. I tested my theory this morning, and it worked again. 1,000 words before breakfast. Beat that, Red Queen.


Oh, in other news…

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

(By the way, I just have to say that you celebrate the darnedest things, British People.)

The Right Thing.

“Anything that gets words on the page is the Right Thing to Do.”

Diana Gabaldon, on learning how to write.

Well, here we are, three days into National Novel Writing Month. (I don’t know about you, but I don’t even think of this month as November any more… It’s just NaNo. Anyone else? No? Okay well maybe that’s just me then…)

This quote is majorly reassuring right now, as I am basically “pantsing” it this year. I’ve always felt uncomfortable working this way, since it’s not what I was taught. But when you’ve got a crazy amount of words to get down, and an absolutely ridiculous deadline to get it done in, careful mapping of every detail just isn’t an option.

Oh, and one last thing. Diana Gabaldon is the author of the Outlander series. Even a classics-obsessed nerd like me has heard of those. So if she says this is true, it’s true.