So, you finished NaNoWrimo, huh? Or you didn’t. Either way is okay. I was awfully sick for the last week, so when November 30 arrived, I woke up with a spring in my step that had been missing for the previous five days and a brain that was telling me: “yes, you can write 13,000 by 6pm!”
Of course, my brain turned out to be right. I wish it wouldn’t do that.
But now that it’s December, the question is now what? I asked that on twitter just recently…
@honeyelle Still writing it. But now that it's not NaNoWriMo, it has to take turns with other projects.
This is going to seem like a sponsored post. I am going to put it out there right now: this is not a sponsored post. Although, if they felt like paying me, I wouldn’t say no. (The writers’ dream, right? To be paid for wriiting.)
I am one of the team that run @NaNoWordSprints in November for NaNoWriMo. This is probably my favourite part of being an ML. I get to connect with more people via twitter and there is less of that awkward silence that crops up at in-person write-ins, because on twitter, especially in word sprints, you don’t have to talk, you don’t have to respond, and if you’re not there, you’re just not there.
I run a lot of the sprints at night. In my house, we work at night. Being freelancers, contractors and project managers, we have many projects and work on them whenever we can. That includes night-time. Part of my work is actually writing this novel. So writing at night is good.
I was trying to be funny, while trying to provide useful tips to wrimos. I tweeted on the @NaNoWordSprints account:
Even if you're staying up late, make sure your monitor isn't killing your eyesight. Install FLUX. =)
It is important to find things that make writing at ALL hours easier, because you never known when inspiration strikes. f.lux is one of the best things I ever did to my computer. I can’t look at the screen without flux turned on anymore.
Of course, if you’re working with colours (such as an animator or graphic designer) you can turn f.lux off for a designated amount of time. But, if you don’t need real colours, you won’t even know the difference.
Not only does it save your eyesight, but it saves your brain. I can stay up at all hours and still go to bed and get to sleep easily. I am suprised that people haven’t heard of it–if you’re one of those people; go download and try it!
Today is the the dreaded halfway day. It’s the fifteenth. Today, we should all be at 25,000 words.
I started the day with 24,456 words. I can make the 25,000 words today, right?
I have been at 24,456 words for three days now. I was so far ahead I felt that I could take a day off from my goal of 2,000 words a day. Because really, I’m still ahead of the “official” word count, and if I’m ahead, then I’ll stay ahead.
Then, I didn’t write for two days.
I hit week two blues–not so much with my novel because I’m a planner and I know exactly what’s happening next and for the rest of the novel; but the stress and emotional drain of writing an entire novel in November got to me. I binged on sorbet and candy and The O.C. season two.
I felt comfortable with my word count. There was nothing to worry about. I would be fine and I will still make it by November 30.
When we start to feel comfortable with our word counts, whether we’re ahead or behind, and that’s when we lose the plot (of both our novels and our writing groove).
To combat this, I recommend one of three things (or all three).
Firstly. Get up, go out for breakfast and drink lots of coffee. You work? I’m sure there are things called sick days–I believe I used to take them more often than I should have. Your novel is sick and it needs attention. Help it get over the 20,000s slump.
Secondly. @NaNoWordSprints is your lifesaver. So are the hashtags #NaNoWordSprints and #1kin30min. You write as much as possible as fast as possible because who wants to be stuck in 20,000s–certainly not me!
Thirdly. Forget the word count. It’s just another 10,000 words. You’ve written two lots of 10,000 words already. What’s a third? What’s a fourth? What’s a fifth? Start a new document and aim for 10,000 words. The look for 30,000 words is daunting. What’s ten thousand? It’s nothing. You’ve done it twice already.
How are you getting through the dreaded, life-sucking, soul-destorying 20,000s and making it to 30,000 words?
So you’ve made it to the eighth of November. Congratulations! This is usually the most difficult week. Usually you will either, run out of steam and throw it all up in the air (although hopefully not your computer, because that would be a large crash and you might possibly hurt your head). Or you didn’t start at all because of work, or school, or family commitments, or election excitement, or simply the fifty thousand word goal seemed daunting.
But if you’re here, well done you! Everyone gets virtual cookies!
At the end of today, your word count should be at 13,333 words.
So even though week one may be the hardest, because motivation needs to kick in; in week two, it’s your determination that will get you through. You may hear about people having completed the fifty thousand words in week one. I congratulate them. But if you haven’t, do not worry! If you don’t have 13,333 words at the end of tonight. Do not worry! You still have twenty-two days, and it is now your determination that will get you through. Motivation is only one quarter of the key.
If your not a planner, you may need to become one. Not for your novel, but for your word count. Determination comes in the form of making up your word count. For those lucky ones who have more than 13,333 words, this part will be easier: you will have less than 1,667 words per day to write. But you do still need to write. For those who have fewer than 13,333 words, you will need to write more than 1,667 words a day. And you do still need to write.
By knowing how many words each day you need to complete #nanowrimo will help you get to the finish line. Thankfully, the lovely folk over at nanowrimo.org provide every user with a foolproof way of finding out how many words they need to write to win: they provide it for you.
By going to your profile page (which is located at http://nanowrimo.org/en/participants/USERNAME and replace ‘username’ with your username), and clicking on stats, you will find a plethora of data that will help you finish (determination) and keep you motivated. It is always fun to watch your graph grow.
As of publishing this blog post, I have 16,614 words in my #nanowrimo document. Part of those words are at the bottom of the file in the dump section*, while the majority are part of my ‘real’ story. And as my graph will tell you, I need to write 1,392 to finish on November 30. My personal goal is 2,000 words a day so if unexpected wash days appear–days where I can’t write–I will be ahead. This happened last Saturday, and I was ahead so it didn’t concern me.
Week two is all about determination. So the question is: are you determined enough?
A small snippet from my novel, which is part of the series “the Charlie & Cub Chronicles”.
Charlie left the room and ran to the elevator and pressed the button. Rohan waited until he heard the ding.
Only, when the ding came, so did the nurses around the corner.
“Run, Rohan!” Charlie screamed as she held the door, facing the women walking swiftly down the hallway towards her. “Run!”
Rohan ran, pushing the wheelchair in front of him. He ran passed Charlie and ran the wheelchair into the back of the large lift. Charlie reached around and pushed the ground floor button as well as the close doors button.
“I’ll see you at home,” she said. She knew he would know to go to their home. Their Witch’s House.
“Come with–” Rohan began to say as the doors closed.
The last image Rohan saw was of Charlie shaking her head.
* Note: A dump section (or file in some cases) is where unwanted words are put. These words were written in November, and count towards your word count, but are not actually part of the story. My dumped scene was placed their because the characters ended up talking in circles and nothing was getting done. They are liked deleted scenes, only before a writer or editor can delete them from the completed manuscript.
I have reservations about writing festivals in general, but that’s mainly to do with the fact that I’ve now been to enough of them that I don’t really learn anything new any more. So paying money to go to panels that I’m not learning anything from seems like a waste.
However, I wouldn’t say I don’t get anything out of festivals. Festivals now give me inspiration more than anything else.
I came out of #ewfsyd wanting to write and submit to journals and magazines. I have short stories I want to tell. I want people to read my writing.
While it is November, and I am in the throes of NaNoWriMo, my short story writing may have to wait until December. But I am inspired. I want to work hard at getting published in a journal.
And that is what I now get out of festivals. That is why I still go to festivals. I feel inspirated to write and do new things. What do you get out of festivals?
Everyone knows that NaNoWriMo is a competition. But it’s a competition against yourself and no one else. What they don’t say is that NaNo is really a competition to see who can procrastinate the least. So losing is really winning in procrastination terms.
Here are some things that you can do to make sure you lose NaNoWriMo, or win procrastination–depending on how you look at it.
Not writing. You can always not write. Be a rebel, right? Although, since only 300,000 people in the world participate in this event, so with the other 6.7 billion people being the majority, actually participating is being a rebel, being part of a minority. Of course, if you want to be a sheep, don’t write. But, everyone wants to be an individual, which means you will write. So you’re more likely to win if you start. (To be truly individual, you have to win–only 10% of wrimos win each year. You’re in more of a minority than before.)
Events. Participating in events is an ideal way to lose. There are so many other writers tap-tapping away on their keyboards, slurping on their coffees, munching on cake and chatting about Doctor Who, Warehouse 13 and even occasionally writing. They are distractions and really, to lose, you need a distraction. That being said, writers are supportive folk and I have known events to instigate “quiet time” to make sure people are reaching their word counts. Make certain you do not find yourself grouped with these people, these people will only make you win.
Word wars and sprints. It’s well known that during November, wrimos become addicted to word wars and sprints. Some can not write without them. The thrill, the adrenaline, the need to win; who wants to write without them? By only being able to write with word wars and sprints, limits how much you can write. However, word sprints happen all the time. Twitter is flooded with them. If you are dependant on word wars and sprints, I have no doubt you will find a region SOMEWHERE doing them… which would make you win.
The forums. Yes, get lost in the forums! There are chat forums, and coffee house forums, and off-topic forums, and regional forums, and genre forums and dare forums and writing forums and suddenly you’ll have spent six hours on the forums without writing a thing! Yes, definitely visit the forums if you want to lose. Of course, the forums are buzzing with wrimos that want to win and are sprouting dares from the wahzoo, and it’s likely you’ll get an idea and need to write it, I mean, you’re likely a writer because your on the NaNo forums and writers can’t not write, so with an idea you’ll write and win and oh dear, you haven’t lost anymore.
Television. Discovering a new series is a pretty ideal way to lose. The same applies to movies and books. I recommend getting lost in something long. Game of Thrones? Doctor Who? Vampire Diaries? A BBC mini-series? Anyway, there’s no chance you can get stories ideas from others writing. It’s not like we’re inspired by other writers and stories, is it? So there’s no chance of winning NaNoWriMo, which means you will be fine.
It seems that winning NaNoWriMo is actually quite easy. Everywhere you look, there is something that is inspiring you or encouraging you. So, how are you going to win NaNo this year, if we can in fact not lose?
Here we are, at the end of Day 1. And what do I have to show for it? 3,689 words, that’s what.
I’m pretty happy with that considering I’m taking most of Saturday off to go visit Sydney and the Emerging Writers’ Festival Roadshow.
Day 1 has taken me all the way to the middle of Chapter 3.
And a small snippet:
Rohan thought something snapped in Theo’s head. Not only when they were taking the demon out of him, but when his mood flipped. He would be sitting quietly next to Rohan on the couch and then he wasn’t. He was flailing his arms about, talking about something intensely exciting and big and adventurous that had happened to him, and he didn’t stop. He wound himself up. He got too excited. Within a few minutes, his mood flipped. Quiet, reading eleven-year-old, to animated, storytelling eleven-year-old, to breaking, running, chaotic eleven-year-old
There are two types of NaNoWriMo writers. Those that plan their novels within an inch of their lives; the outline of their novels are almost as long as the novels themselves. The other type of writer are the pantsers, those that write by the seat of the pants, that have a vague idea (and sometimes no idea) about what they’re writing on November 1, and just make it up as they go along; they use dares frequently and are the ones that exclaim on November 10, “heck yes! I just killed my main character.”
I have participated in NaNoWriMo for many years, but only really consider myself a ‘true’ participant in the last two (aka, the years I took it seriously).
If this is your first year, there are some characteristics that define pantsers and planners, and possibly things that you should take into account for your first NaNoWriMo.
As a pantser:
You will have no idea what you’re doing until November 1. (Or you will have many ideas about what you’re doing and not choose until November 1.)
You will have no plans, outlines, storyboards or mindmaps. Plans are for wimps!
You’ll love the ideas of dares. Female main character turns into male main character, yes please! Main character comes back as a ghost, yes please! Main character turns into a Power Ranger, yes please!
Word wars and word sprints are your friends. You’ll likely win most of them.
You signed up after November 1? No probs! You still have 15 days!
You’ll be proud of the fact you haven’t hit any of the milestones, but you know you’ll have 50,000 words by midnight November 30.
As a planner:
You know exactly how long each point on your plan is in your word count and you know that you need exactly 150 points to get to 50,000 words.
You will recalculate how many words you need to write each day to reach 50,000 words taking into account exams, work-days, festivals, music concerts, family visits and Christmas shopping.
If you haven’t written anything before November 5, you may feel the desire to not start at all. DO NOT GIVE IN to that desire.
Your plans, mindmaps, storyboards, character profiles, setting analysises, playlists, outlines and even candy drawer and coffee supplies will be well and truly done and stocked by November 1 for the entire month.
You carry a notepad around with you and think about your story. Constantly. There is never a time when you are not thinking about it because you know there’s a plot hole and that just won’t do.
You’ll be proud of the fact that you finished your novel by November 15 because you were so planned.
I am a planner. Well and truly. I was writing a blog-fic the past two years. I had every blog post day and title sorted out. Each post had three points that needed to be hit for that post to be finished. Each post had to be a minimum of 1000 words. I don’t write well with music, so music is never on. I write well in word sprints, so even held my own singular word sprints. (#1kin30mins anyone?)
So, are you a planner or a pantser? How do you define planners and pantsers?