Day 3: We’re starting to settle in now. Regardless of whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, writing is a journey and an adventure. Keep writing and see where it takes you!
Today’s Count: 5,001 words
Day 3: We’re starting to settle in now. Regardless of whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, writing is a journey and an adventure. Keep writing and see where it takes you!
Today’s Count: 5,001 words
Day 2 : We all have to remember when writing out these words that they don’t have to be perfect. No matter our process, we just need to get them out.
Today’s count: 3,334 words
It’s Day 1 of NaNoWriMo, kids!
Time to hit the ground running and get in our 1,667 words. Everyone have their coffee (or tea if you prefer) and raided your kids Halloween candy?
November is the best month to get that story out of you and on paper. It’s the one time of year that a huge community of writers band together to encourage each other. Because we are all out for one goal: to write a novel.
So listen to Faulkner and use November to get that story out of your system.
Happy NaNo Writing!
Let’s be buddies at https://nanowrimo.org. I’m elizepeake15!
The last few days I’ve shared some tips and questions to help you get in the right frame of mind to start this marathon writing adventure.
In case it isn’t obvious, I love NaNoWriMo. A bunch of writers getting together virtually, or physically if you have an active local write in, to tackle the Great American Novel. Twitter is all aflutter with several hashtags for writing sprints and all types of camaraderie. It always reminds me how great the writing community is, regardless of what we write.
And reminds me that this crazy, gargantuan challenge is worth it and that I’m not alone.
But let’s not kid ourselves. It is a daunting undertaking and not for the faint of heart.
Then again, writing itself is not for the faint of heart!
Like any well-prepared individual facing the prospect of a fierce storm, I created a NaNo sanity preparedness kit for myself.
These four items are my staples. Other things come and go, but I always keep these things in stock:
Coffee: The nectar of the gods gets me going every day. Since I drink it black, I’m a bit picky about what I drink. It helps that my daughter works for Starbucks, so I get good coffee for a deep discount. I have a Keurig machine and a Ninja drip coffeemaker but in November I stick with the Ninja simply because I can make a whole pot at once. No need to wait around for every cup of coffee I want. And frankly, I drink too much coffee to make using K-cups a viable financial option.
Candy: Whoever decided November should be National Novel Writing Month knew the power of sugar and how easy it would be to obtain. All you have to do is raid the kids Halloween bag! A piece of good dark chocolate makes me happy and happy makes the words flow. I’m partial to a fun size bag of Skittles as well.
Cheerleader(s): Some writers drink coffee, some tea. But I don’t know any writer that doesn’t need a cheerleader. Stringing a series of sentences together to tell a story is hard. Not to be taken lightly. You’re going to need someone (or two) to help you through getting this done. They don’t necessarily have to be a writer themselves, just someone that will wave those poms-poms and do some cartwheels (not literally, of course) telling you how awesome you are and to keep going.
Love: You need love in abundance for the month of November. Love for yourself and love for your story. Even with cheerleaders, at the end of the day, this challenge is on us. Only we can love our stories and ourselves enough to finish our stories and win NaNoWriMo.
You may feel like the words suck. Or the words might be brilliant. But either way, get the words on paper and finish the story. Stories in and of themselves are magic. So get all that power down on paper in the form of words.
You can let that inner editor out of its cage on December 1st.
Do you have any staples you use during NaNoWriMo? What helps you through the marathon? Share it here!
You’ve asked yourself some basic questions about your story (see what those are here).
You’ve gathered the courage to move forward and created a novel on the website.
Now it’s time for the work.
Getting the words on paper.
The default setting for Nano is 50,000 words in 30 days. Why 50,000? Because that’s the standard of what is considered a novel by the industry. However, Nano is also good to use for those writing a novella or an epic novel. The goal is to write and hit a target with a finished product at the end.
But in keeping with the default, we can see by doing the math, you’re going to need 1,667 words a day. Every. Day.
Yeah, I know.
It can seem daunting, especially if you don’t have eight hours a day, seven days a week to devote to it. In other words, you have a day job and life keeps moving on.
So how does one pull off a feat like this and not lose their minds?
Well, when I find out about the last half of that, I’ll let you know.
Otherwise, here are a few tips to help you get those words in every day. Your mileage will vary on how each one works for you and it may work best to use several of the them together. Or maybe you find a single one that works with your process. Whatever works for you is what’s going to get the story done.
I’m an early bird, night owl combination. However, when I write, the creative muse tends to be at her best early in the morning. Most of the time, my husband is already up and leaving for work and my teen isn’t anywhere near being awake, so it tends to be great alone time for me. I set my alarm for 4am and have my butt in the chair no later than 4:30 (it takes a minute for the coffee to sink in) to write for about an hour before real life calls and I head to the day job.
Conversely, your muse may need all day to get some ideas for you and tends to visit at night. If you’re a night person, you may find that waiting until after the work day is done, dinner is made, homework is complete, and the rest of the house is in bed, to be your best bet to get in an hour or so.
There is no right or wrong answer here. The goal here is to make a schedule and stick to it to help you get in those words.
You’ve found some time to actually sit and write, but maybe it’s a short amount of time. To help keep you focused on the task, you may find having a timer with a repeating tick-tock handy. For me, I find a time extremely useful. If I know I only have 20 minutes to get those words in, I’m more likely to stay focused and not be distracted from my goal.
I didn’t know until recently that this technique actually has a moniker. Snap writing is the art of writing in snatches of time, no matter how long or short they are. The opposite of having a schedule or a routine. Writing whenever, wherever. This technique may not work for everyone, but it is a useful skill to learn if you are already overcommitted before you put a single word to paper.
This is another tip that works brilliantly for some, but will leave others flat. And it does have a learning curve. But if this is something you’d like to try, it can be a game changer. I’ve used it myself a few times while stuck in traffic and have made some great gains with it. 1300 words on a long commute home doesn’t suck.
Dictation is something that takes a bit of practice though. You have to “train the dragon” which takes time and patience. Neither of which will be in ample supply in the month of November. But if dictation is something you already use or have used before in any way, I encourage you to try it.
This can be a simple notebook with a date and a number of words done for the day or an Excel spreadsheet with formulas in it. Either way, keep up with your progress. This will be especially important if you “snap write” through out the day and only get in a couple of hundred or so at a time.
Keeping track of the progress is also a great visual way for you to see where you are and how far you’ve come.
Tip 6: Turn Off the TV, Phone, Social Media, etc.
Get rid of the distractions! While technology helps us in a number of ways to sell our books and provide research for us during discovery, it’s a double edged sword. It takes no time at all to fall down the rabbit hole known as the internet, or Facebook, or Twitter, or any other social media platform. Time in those rabbit holes are time that you could be writing and getting in those words.
Same goes for Candy Crush or SimCity or that farming game. I speak from experience here.
Fitness gurus will tell you that it can be easier to lose weigh or stick to a workout regimen if you have someone keeping you accountable. And if you are helping them as well.
That same philosophy applies here. It helps to have someone that you can check in with or that will check in with you to make sure you are getting those words down each day. And if you’re flagging, they will cheer you on with razor sharp jabs or a gentle shove, whatever it is you need to get back on that horse and keep going until the end of November.
I’ve heard this in a couple of places, one of them being on the Journeyman Writer podcast. The idea is to stop at what would be an unnatural break. For example, stop in the middle of a paragraph or the middle of a scene. This allows for you to pick up where you left off the next day and help keep that momentum going.
Much like a manual transmission car on a downward slope. Pop that brake and you have instant momentum to get started.
Keep in mind, small gains added together equal big gains. So if you can only manage to bang out 250 words at a time but snatch several times through out the day, you’ll be at your word count target before you know it.
The other great thing is that once you pick up the momentum, you can keep rolling. If you can type 250 words in 10 minutes on day 1, you may graduate to higher numbers in the same amount of time.
So keep going. Don’t stop. Stay focused and keep the momentum on an upswing as long as you can.
You can hit the floor on December 1st.
Do you have any tips that have helped you hit your daily target? I’m always looking for new ways to try, so please share!
You’ve visited the NaNoWriMo website. Made your profile. Connected to a regional team online. Tweeted that you are participating.
Except for that one section you left blank. The section where you create your novel.
Because for all of your enthusiasm to be a part of this writer’s rite of passage, you don’t really know where to start.
I’ve known some people that just sit down with a blank page and start writing on November 1st. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that and if that’s how you can write a story, I applaud you!
But what if you’re a bit more (or a lot more) of a planner than that?
I’ve been in your shoes. It can be scary and overwhelming.
I’ve participated (and finished all but once) in NaNoWriMo for the last few years and some years I’ve already had a story going that I would use NaNoWriMo to finish.
But my first time? All I had was a loose plot I dreamed up driving to the beach earlier in the summer.
So with nothing more than my vague plot bunny, I started with three basic questions for my story. These are questions that everyone, pantser or plotter, can use.
Don’t worry if you don’t know everything about the story just yet, how well you know your characters, or even if you know their names. This is discovery phase.
So, relax. Take a deep breath, and ask yourself:
Many times when I start a brand new story, it comes from what I call a “plot bunny”. It’s a kernel of an idea I get from someone I meet, a song lyric, just about anything that jogs an idea from your brain. Regardless of where the plot comes from, once the idea begins to percolate, you’re going to need to know the genre the story is going to fall into.
The reason this is important to figure out is because genres have different conventions, different rules they play by. For example, in the romance genre, it is expected to have a “happily ever after” (HEA) or at the very least a “happy for now” (HFN) ending. Other genres, it isn’t uncommon for the ending to end tragically. If you don’t understand the type of story you’re writing, you’ll fail to deliver reader expectations. And that’s a hard thing to come back from once it’s happened.
The last thing is making sure the story you aim to write will give you creative energy. If it is a drudgery every day to write the story or your excitement fizzles quickly, it may not be the story for Nanowrimo. Nano is a marathon, not a sprint. So you’re going to need to keep that creative well properly primed for thirty days. And this is great practice for writing novels for the future.
Knowing what kind of story you’re going to write allows it to feed your creativity daily.
I think innately as writers when we create a story, we know whose story it’s going to be. That may change over time, but we’re just starting out here, so let’s go with what our instincts are telling us. Unfortunately, while we may know whose story it is, our gut doesn’t always let us know who is going to actually tell the story.
First, it helps to know what the POV’s are:
1st person: The entire story is told from the narrator’s point of view only. “I” is the big giveaway here. You see first person a lot used in young adult and new adult fiction.
2nd person: The story is told as though the audience is a character. “You” is used instead of “I” in this case. I don’t recommend 2nd person in fiction. It’s rarely seen in books and there’s a reason for it. It’s difficulty to develop adequate characters and maintain the style for a long format piece in the second person POV. So make it easy on yourself and just don’t do it.
3rd person: The story is told using the pronouns he, she, it, and they. There are two ways to write in third person: limited and omniscient. Limited is where only one narrator’s feelings and thoughts are shared. Omniscient is where the thoughts and emotions of all characters are told by the narrator. A vast majority of novels are written in third person.
As the writer, it is up to you as to which point of view you want to use. However, just be sure that you keep consistent. There are some authors who have switched POV’s throughout their novels, using things such as chapter breaks to show the difference of POV’s. However, this is an advanced move and not done lightly.
You’ve answered who, what, and the why. Now we can think on the when and where.
To flesh out that plot bunny and those characters, you’re going to need to think on the world building. The words “world building” can sound daunting, I know. But start with something easy, such as a time period.
Do you see your story in the current time period? Or are you writing a historical where electricity doesn’t exist? Or is this a sci-fi with space stations? Even if you don’t know every aspect of your story just yet, you have an idea of your time period. You hone the details of it later as you write or in revisions. Just have a framework of the time period to work in.
Which leads to the “where” or setting of your story. The beautiful thing about fiction is that you can build that world in your mind and make it all your own. You can create an entire alternate universe, a new solar system, or you can use your hometown.
One thing to keep in mind though when world building: even in a made up place from your mind, things have to make sense. The reader will suspend disbelief for you, but only for so long. In other words, you’re only going to get away with complete disbelief for so long. Here’s an example:
You are writing a story set in northern Canada near the Arctic Circle. It’s January, the middle of a snowy winter. Your characters should be wearing heavy coats, gloves, hats. If you have them walking around without any winter gear, in light jackets, or no jackets at all, your reader won’t buy that for long, if at all.
It doesn’t make sense. Even with climate change. It still gets cold!
But what about something like Harry Potter and all that magic, you ask? The difference there is that JK Rowling built her world to include magic. It makes sense to have a magic wand and for people to fly. Be authentic to the world you built. World building isn’t easy. Do it justice and give it the respect it deserves.
Look through some of your favorite stories and see what they do for setting, how they build their universe inside those pages. Perusing the pages of stories that prompted you to write can be helpful in giving examples of how to create images for your own story. Images you can translate to paper.
Chances are once you start asking yourself these three questions, more questions will arise, and you will soon be sucked into your story.
Which is exactly where you need to get used to living for the next month.
Look for me as elizapeake15 at nanowrimo.org
Check back for my next post on tips to getting the words down and things you’ll need to get through NaNoWriMo!
Having a cheerleader, even if it’s through the speakers of your computer, headphones, or car as you commute, is vital to the self-esteem of a writer. While we may have our characters we hang out with daily, writing can still be a lonely endeavor.
I’ve listened to podcasts for many years now and part of why I love them is because they meet so many of my needs. In this episode of my Podcasts Series, I talk about two podcasts that keep me going from two different perspectives.
Honestly, I can’t remember how I came across this podcast. I was familiar with J. Thorn since he has worked with my author entrepreneur idol, Joanna Penn in the past. I didn’t know Rachael, even though she’s been writing for years. But I have to say that even though I can’t remember how I found them, I’m glad I did.
This weekly podcast started at the beginning of 2017, so it’s a bit younger than other podcasts I listen to. Both J and Rachael are full-time authors, living the writer’s dream. One of the things I enjoy most about this podcast is the conversation like nature to it. Instead of the polish of a formal show, it’s simply two people talking about writing. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a format. They catch up with what’s going on with each other and then they move on to the question of the week. One will come up with a question for the other that has to do with their writing process, writing goals, or anything else in regards to the writing journey.
The camaraderie between these two is fun to hear and I have found myself laughing along with them. What makes The Petal to the Metal motivational is to hear two writers making a living at writing and be truthful about the world of it. They are cheerleaders for each other. Because it isn’t an easy business, but it is worth it if you have someone to motivate and inspire you. When I listen to them, they remind me to stay the course and never give up.
Length: 20-30 minutes long depending on the topic.
Find them at http://thepetaltothemetal.com/
Full disclosure that makes me sad: this podcast is no longer producing new shows. It was owned by an organization called Story Wonk and earlier this year, the couple that ran it divorced. However, they continue to maintain the website where the podcasts are and you can still find all 235 episodes on any podcast app you use.
Fortunately, the craft of writing is evergreen, so the discussions and teachings that Alastair imparted can still be used. I found this podcast to be one of the better ones to explain writing craft. He uses a lot of cinema to help explain craft for writing novels and for me, it helped connect the dots. Mindset, productivity, publishing, Nanowrimo are just a few of the things he discussed on the show. And each show is short and sweet, which I appreciated so as not to overwhelm me.
The Journeyman Writer is motivating in the fact that he breaks down the craft in bite size pieces. It makes you feel like not only could you write a book, but you could write a book well and actually learn the craft.
The fact that he has a fun Scottish accent is just a bonus. 🙂
If you listen to The Journeyman Writer and love it like I did, I have good news. While that particular show may be over, I found out that he has recently started a new craft podcast called The Narrative Beat. I haven’t listened to it yet, but now that I know it exists, I plan to check it out as soon as possible. Check back in a couple of months and I’ll have a review of it.
Length: 5-10 minutes depending on the topic.
Find the old episodes at https://storywonk.com/category/podcasts/the-journeyman-writer/
Find Alastair and The Narrative Beat at http://pointnorthmedia.com/
As I always say, there are a ton of podcasts out there and these are only my opinion. But whether or not one of these or a different one helps you, podcasts are one more medium that can help writers on their journey in a number of ways.
What are some of the ways you look to others for motivation? Do you have another podcast you’d like to share that has kickstarted your writing somehow? Share with me and drop a comment below!