NaNoWriMo Final Check-In

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Oh hello! Guess who never did any NaNoWriMo check-ins after my first one?

I don't feel too bad about that, because:

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So I guess spending less time writing blog posts is OK, all things considering. :)

However, I didn't "finish" my novel. I don't feel like 50K words is enough for most novels, truthfully (many industry standards are closer to the 80K mark). I actually only wrote 30K words toward my novel. But throughout the course of the month, I wrote around 80,000 words. I'm considering that a personal win.

Here's the breakdown:

  • 30K for Daughters of Fortuna (in progress);
  • 20K for additional chapters of The Gamemakers, the novel I wrote during last year's NaNoWriMo, actually completing this manuscript;
  • 10K for a role-play module I wrote in one weekend (details to come since I'll be sharing it here!);
  • 5K for freelance writing projects;
  • 15K for a few miscellaneous projects, including a short story for an anthology and chapters of an ongoing D&D story I've been writing for my friends.

For me, the best part of NaNoWriMo is making writing into a habit. Writing a book in one month is certainly possible, but I tend to feel that an actual book is best written over the course of several months or even years. It's very easy to get discouraged early on, so I like to just aim for writing as much as I can. 80,000 words that I wrote now exist, and they didn't a month ago. Plus, I have some completed pieces now to show for it.

Hope you all had a productive and exciting month! I have some fun stuff to share with you soon -- some role-play modules to download, a short story anthology, and perhaps more?

NaNoWriMo Check-In | Week 1

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Hey writers! How is NaNoWriMo going for you so far? We're coming up on 7 days tomorrow, which should put us all at the 11K mark (!!!). Does anyone else feel like it's going so fast?

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The first week was a mix of emotions for me. I was excited, tired, frustrated, doubting, etc. Now, I feel like I'm in the groove, and I'm not being so hard on myself. I'm inspired to write at strange times (I wrote 2,000 words at 1:30 a.m. last night) so I'm trying to work with what "feels" right. Still, I do try to give myself a few uninterrupted hours during the day.

Music is helping immensely. (Here's my playlist.) I've also been making character moodboards while I'm at the gym (Pinterest is a good elliptical activity!) and having visualizations of who my characters are is also very useful.

When I'm stuck, I always go back to: what is the mood I'm trying to capture with this story? How can I evoke that atmosphere through what my characters are seeing and doing?

If you want to connect on NaNoWriMo, my username is AshleyWarrenResearch. Happy writing!

How to prepare for NaNoWriMo

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This Saturday marks the start of Camp NaNoWriMo, a month-long writing challenge in which participants complete an entire writing project (such as a 50,000 word novel). (NaNoWriMo is short for "National Novel Writing Month," which is usually held in November.) 

I started doing NaNoWriMo back in 2012, but it was only last November that I actually completed it, and then I completed it again in April. Now that I understand what works for me, I'm pretty confident that I'll meet my goals in July, too. Here are some of my suggestions for how to make the most of the month.

Make moodboards and playlists
For me, writing is a full sensory experience. Seeing my story come to life in other ways, such as music or images, helps keep me inspired to write it. Sometimes the words on the page are not enough; it's nice to <em>feel</em> the full atmosphere of your book. When I'm in the midst of a NaNoWriMo challenge, I like to feel like I'm living inside my book. There are a few songs that I can't hear without thinking of particular stories or ideas, and every time I hear them, I am eager to write. If you're feeling unmotivated or frustrated, you can reference these, and it's also a useful way to think about what you want your story to evoke.

Set small goals throughout the month
When I was teaching English 101, my students would <em>freak out</em> about having to write five page papers. To talk them down, I'd ask: can you write a one page paper? This seemed doable, so I'd say, what if you wrote one page each night? In just a few nights, your draft would be done. It is <em>way</em> less daunting to break your story into achievable pieces. Consider thinking of your story in "parts," even if those parts won't be visible to the reader when it's finished. Instead of thinking of 50,000 words all at once, consider writing chunks of 10,000 words, and try meeting those goals first.

Pick a tool you love
I recently wrote about some popular writing tools, and I really think this makes more of a difference than most writers realize. I'm not terribly inspired when I open Google Docs (which is a great tool that I use often for most of the work I do), but when I launch Scrivener or Ulysses, I feel excited just to start getting words on the page. Whatever you use, don't just use it because it works; use a program that you're excited to see open on your computer. (This includes using notebooks and pencils!)

Remember that this is a draft
The point of the challenge is to get your story out of your head and onto paper. That's it. It's not necessary to write a polished manuscript. I'm still editing and revising the book I wrote last year, and I probably will continue to do so for a few more months. So just focus on writing, and not editing. Some of your chapters may have the simplest of sentences, but at least you're writing and telling a story. Revision is a whole separate process from writing and it's easy to forget that.

Ultimately: have fun, and don't be too hard on yourself. Get into the habit of writing every day. It's really satisfying to see what you can create in one month if you dedicate just an hour or two every day. Good luck!