National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2013

Half a month left until National Novel Writing Month 2013 starts. I’ve been in a writing slum for about a year now. In fact, I don’t think I’ve made any serious progress with my writing career since last NaNoWriMo. I’ve been doing a lot of lip service lately, talking about finishing the edits on Chasing Shadows but not doing anything with it. I’d even announced my plans to complete the edits by November. At this rate, I doubt that’s going to happen. πŸ™‚

Really, I’ve just been in an unmotivated slum, boggled down by all the stresses in life. Last week, I’ve felt myself emerge a little. Not really when it comes to writing, but rather when it comes to other activities in life. I’ve started playing around with 3D art again. I’ve felt a little motivation when it comes to writing, though I haven’t ventured into it. I’ve even started to blog a little, as you can see. Granted, I’ve only written a few posts. Still… it’s a start.

For a while now, I’ve been toying with NOT participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Like I said… I’ve lacked motivation all around. Tuesday was the first day I’ve actually thought I might give it a try. The first day I seriously thought to myself, I don’t have a story idea. πŸ™‚

Story Idea

A few years back, I started a story about a witch named Trinity. Some of you might remember her short appearance at the end of I Loved You First.Β I wrote a pretty hefty chuck of book one (Trinity’s Awakening), but it being one of my first ventures into writing, it wasn’t all that great. The story line is descent… but it needs A LOT of work in terms of style and bringing the work to life. Well, I know where Trinity’s Awakening ends, and I have an awesome ending for the book Β two cooked up.

What I’m thinking is doing the same thing I did with the Striped Ones series and just knock out book two out of order. Not sure how many people realize this, but I actually wrote book 3 of the Striped Ones series during NaNoWriMo 2010, before I’d written book 2 (Chasing Shadows). Pretty sweet deal if I ever finish editing Chasing Shadows… Book 3 is already written and ready for editing. πŸ™‚

Same thing would go for Trinity’s Destiny. I can get book 2 (Trinity’s Descent) out of the way, then return for an overhaul on book 1 (Trinity’s Awakening). Maybe NaNoWriMo 2014 will be the first draft of book 3 (Trinity’s Redemption).

So that’s what I’m thinking right now. If my motivation continues to increase over the next week or so, I see myself preparing an outline for November.

That’s where I am these days.

Authors Helping Authors: What I gained from #NaNoWriMo 2012

Wednesday ended NaNoWriMo 2011.

This year was my second time around. I have to admit, the event was a little bumpier than I’d expected. In fact, I didn’t even start until day 2.

The thing was, I wasn’t sure I wanted to participate this year. I thought about all the projects I had underway and said I needed to knock those out first. I just didn’t have time for NaNo.

Then November 1 came around, and I accomplished all of… nothing. Wait a minute here, I said to myself. Isn’t this the month you’re going to get some work done? Okay… so I wasn’t starting on the right foot.

November 2: I realized the best way to be productive was to get over my goals and start that new project. I threw together a outline for Harem and got to it. I have to say, that missing day took me forever to make up. Day 18, I finally inched over the bar.

Every day was a struggle to get myself motivated. Even after I caught there were days I wanted to quit. I even slacked a few days, not meeting my minimum goal. Then I decided to give Write or Die a try.

Now here’s the thing with Write or Die. Last year I gave it go, and it was annoying as hell. I just couldn’t concentrate with all the blaring going on when I slacked. Now I don’t know if it’s because I had the wrong settings or if it’s changed since then, but the program was more distracting than helpful.

Everyone was tweeting about it in the #NaNoWriMo channel this year. As for me, my past experience wasn’t good so I avoided it… until just a few days before the end of NaNo, and you know what? It works!

The obnoxious blaring was gone. Instead the screen transitioned from white to a deep red when I slacked. And there is noise. I found that out the first time I tried the Desktop version. πŸ™‚ I’m ashamed to admit, but I did get distracted and started web surfing my first attempt. I don’t know what it was playing, but it wasn’t obnoxious. It was more of a where’s that music coming from?

One thing for sure, it got me back on track without distracting me to the point I couldn’t concentrate.

I’ve been using Write or Die ever since. Set at 15 minutes, I can get anywhere from 350-550 words written. It’s turned writing from becoming a torturous chore which can easily take me ALL day to scrape out a few hundred words to a few 15-minute intervals of highly focused writing sprints.

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I’ve made a goal of 1k words a day. And with Write or Die, it’s such an easy task to accomplish. I’m looking at 2-3 sessions (30-45 minutes) a day. Even when I was pumping out my first novel way back when I was full of motivation, I wasn’t this efficient.

So, this year, I’m recommending Write or Die. It has changed the way I write for the better. In fact, after my first day using it, I went to my husband and asked if I could purchase the Desktop edition. Yes… I went to my husband to get permission to spend $10 from my book royalties. I know… odd. I just feel better with his seal of approval when it comes to writing and blog related expenses, regardless of the source of the funds.

There you have it. A++ for Write or Die.


NaNoWriMo – Recap

I meant to have one more post on NaNo for next Tuesday, but I didn’t expect to finish my 50k a week ahead of schedule. As such. πŸ™‚ This is the last NaNo post from me this year.

This was my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, and I chose to write the third and final novel in my Striped Ones Series. The first novel, Shadow Cat, is complete and in the final stages of editing. Feel free to read the excerpt here. Still looking for beta readers, by the way. πŸ™‚ Or if you would like to review it, drop me a note (reenajacobs at reenajacobs dot com). The second in the series, Stray Cat, only has about 10k written. But since NaNoWriMo is about writing a novel from start to finish, I skipped to the end. And so we have Alley Cat. A quick look at my stats.

  • Current Word Count: 52,029
  • Date hit 50k: 11/23/2010
  • Highest word count in a day: 3397 (November 12, 2010)
  • Lowest word count in a day: 685 (November 25, 2010)
  • Wrote for 25 days straight

For the record, I haven’t written since November 25, 2010. So what do I have to show for my 25 days worth of work? I have a nearly finished rough draft of Alley Cat. I have yet to write one chapter, possibly a epilogue, and two or three scenes I skipped. For now, I’m setting Alley Cat aside. I’ll fill in the missing chapters when I return for a second pass in a few months.

Sure winning NaNo is great, but truly the biggest advantage of participating in it is the rough draft. I finally feel like a real writer. Why? Because now I have two stories under my belt. After writing Shadow Cat it was more of a hobby feeling–yeah, I did it. One more thing I’d tried. This time around it was more of a feeling, I did it, and Shadow Cat wasn’t a fluke.

I’m sure lots of folks have tips and tricks on how to win NaNo. I won’t even pretend I have some secret ingredient, but I’ll share what worked for me.

  • Set goals: Despite not having a day job other than chasing my rugrat around the house, I knew writing 16 hours a day seven days a week wasn’t for me. So I set a goal to write 5 days a week M-F, which came to about 2300 words a day. I managed to meet that goal all but two days. Though I didn’t schedule writing for the weekend, I managed to squeeze some in anyway. I set a tentative goal of 1667 words, which is the daily word count suggested by NaNo. If I didn’t meet it, no big deal, but it was always a boon when I did.
  • No excuses: I’m not talking about family emergencies and such. Real life can definitely get in the way of writing. I’m talking about the lame excuses which really are about lack of motivation and the desire to procrastinate while diminishing the guilt. There were days I didn’t want to write. It would have been so easy to say I had church that day, had to play with my son, or had to prepare for my Thanksgiving guests (who stayed from November 25-28). Sure I had all those things in my life, but really church doesn’t take up 24 hours of my day, my son naps and doesn’t need me to entertain him 24/7, and preparing for Thanksgiving doesn’t take 30 days. Granted, most folks don’t have as lax of a schedule as my SAHM one, but in the end it’s about dedication. Even if people don’t have the time on their hand or the typing speed to crank out 1667-2300 words a day, I bet they have at least 10-30 minutes they can squeeze in somewhere to add a few words to their manuscript.
  • Outline: A couple of days before NaNo started I created character profiles for my hero and heroine. Kind of a get to know you session. Then I created a thorough outline, plotting every scene I planned to write. Shadow Cat I wrote by the seat of my pants. I’d tried outlining in the past and have quite a few on standby. But Alley Cat is the first story I’ve finished from beginning to end using an outline. Having an outline was useful because when I hit scenes I didn’t want to write (and I had quite a few of them), I could skip ahead to a scene which interested me without worrying about plot integrity. I will admit my outline changed slightly as I progressed. I eliminated one plot arc dealing with scenes I’d previously skipped. I figured if I couldn’t interest myself to write them, no one else would be interested in reading them. haha
  • Knowing the best times to write: I’m a night owl, and mornings and I don’t get along. In fact, I can remember the last time I went to bed at 6 am, but can’t remember the last time I woke up at 6 am. Getting any significant writing done in the early afternoon didn’t work so well for me. But about 4 pm, my brain woke up, and we were revved to go. Knowing that, I didn’t force myself to write early in the day. In fact, most of my major writing occurred past 8 pm.

So now that NaNo is over, what’s next? I gave myself the rest of November off. I’m not going to pretend. Writing like a maniac for 25 days wore me out. Come December 1st, I’ll be back to putting the finishing touches on Shadow Cat. I’m setting a goal of 1 scene a day, no excuses. πŸ™‚ I have 20-30 scenes left, so finishing it up in December should be no problem. Come January, I plan on doing my own personal NaNo and knocking out book two of the Striped Ones series.

NaNoWriMo – Update 4

One of the hardest things about writing my WIP is the fact the first draft sucks. I can only give NaNo part of the blame. Cause the first draft of my Shadow Cat novel also sucked. Not as bad, but pretty close. After a year of on and off editing, I believe Shadow Cat is starting to come together. I still have a lot of trimming, editing, and revising, but I’m confident the finished product will to my liking.

I have to remind myself that it’s okay that Alley Cat (NaNo WIP) has scenes that won’t remain and a lot of scenes that’ll need rewriting… not just editing but a thorough reworking. One thing I can say about NaNo is it’s given me the getterdun attitude. Something I haven’t felt since Aug-Oct 2009 while working on the first draft of Shadow Cat. It’s a great feeling to know I’ve written two novels, even if neither are ready for publication.

Once NaNo is over, I’m going to work on the edits of Shadow Cat while finishing Regina’s Story. Remember Brandon’s Wife from Control Freak? Yeah… that’s the one. Then it’s on to writing the sequel to Shadow Cat which only has about 10k words thus far. As I mentioned earlier, I skipped to the third and final book (Alley Cat) for my NaNo work because I’d yet to start it.

I think if I alternate between editing and writing a book, I can really give a serious go at a writing career.

This week went by quite well. I met my 2300 goal M-F everyday except for Wednesday. And even then I came in close with 2k. I even made a pretty good run on the weekend adding 3624 words. I ended my week at 47425 words.

As far as my novel itself, it’s coming to an end. I’ve filled in most of the blanks. By this Wednesday I hope to have my 50k which should complete my first draft of Alley Cat. Perfect timing, cause I believe November 25 (Thanksgiving) is also the first date participants can validate their entries.