NaNoWriMo Tips

Hi Everyone,

Usually I’m well aware of the start of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) held every year in November. I can often count on a number of writer friends asking if I’m going to be participating again this year.  Then there’s the inevitable late October panic as I try and figure out just what I will write during NaNoWriMo and what will I not do to reach my 1,666 daily word goal.

This year, however, things were pretty quiet and I’m none of my writer friends is doing NaNo and neither am I. Oh, I’m still writing, but between my  work writing, freelance assignments and the Achdus Club series there is no way I could imagine taking on another project.

If you are participating in NaNo – You go! It’s an awesome way to kickstart your work, and no worries if you don’t reach your goal. Just the exercise of writing consistently will help you grow as a writer.

I’ve pulled together a few of my old blog posts on NaNo filled with tips, tricks and my thoughts on the whole process. Enjoy!

November Is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)
NaNoWriMo, Part 2 – Tips and Tricks
Time to Start Writing NaNo Fans
My Pledge to Myself: NaNoWriMo, Day 2
NaNo Day 4: Reality Check
4 Things I Learned From Not Finishing NaNoWriMo

 

 

4 Things I Learned From Not Finishing NaNoWriMo

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It’s hard to believe it’s already December 1! Where has the year gone? Heck, where did November go? It was just a few weeks ago that NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, started and sadly it’s already over. As you know, I signed up with the best of intentions, knowing that November was a particularly busy one for me. Between prepping for my book launch, the presidential elections, Thanksgiving travel and previously scheduled writing assignments, I knew that trying to write 50,000 words in a new novel would be problematic.

Indeed, I fell far short of my goal. I discovered that while I’m great at giving advice (don’t get discouraged, just keep writing, don’t worry about the plot), I’m not as good as taking it myself.

I made a few other discoveries along the way, as well.

1. No, there will never be “free” time to write. If it’s not my priority, it won’t be any one else’s priority either.

2. My WIP (work in progress) does have some plot holes I need to figure out. I also need to do some research because that will have an impact on the way the story unfolds.

3. Whether I planned it or not (not, being the operative word), I find I’m challenging myself with each Achdus Club entry. This is a really good thing. As writers we need to keep pushing ourselves and our work. We need to continue to grow and strength our writing. We need to learn new storytelling techiques and new ways to express our characters thoughts and fears.

4. Rather than being intimidating, opening up a new blank writing document signals the start of something amazing. It’s the promise of a fresh start, of unlimited possibilities and the chance to keep bettering myself. I love each new story beginning. It’s only as I let my inner critic take over, figure after the first three thousand words or so that I really start to worry. By 10,000 words I’m questioning if there’s even a story worth telling. Maybe the trick is to treat each part of the story as it’s own beginning, middle and end. Perhaps if I work in individual “segments” (sort of like the three-act structure in screenwriting) it might be easier to quell my inner critic.

I maintain that NaNo is a great way for creative writers to get into the groove of writing daily and making it a priority. That alone is worth the price of admission, whether you’ve reached the 50,000 word milestone or not.

Will I participate again next year? Perhaps, but I know I’ve already learned the most important lesson — just keep on writing.


NaNo Days 5 & 6 (Aka the weekend)

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So I would love to tell you that I spent the weekend not only diligently writing 1,667 words each day. I would love to tell you that I surprised myself by exceeding the suggested daily word count and wrote pages upon pages.

But I can’t. I just wasn’t as nearly as productive as I had hoped to be. Oonce down the slippery slope of well if I didn’t do it yesterday, and I’m not going to be able to make up the missed writing days it seemed almost easy to stop.

I’m not in the mood to write. I have other things to do on a Sunday. I want to relax. Excuses after excuses. They were piling up. Until I started to tell my husband I hadn’t  made my NaNo word count Saturday or Sunday (it was still mid-afternoon at that point) to which he responded – well get busy, I’m counting on you.

It’s not that he’s pressuring me to write–he is always the first to support my decision to stop writing for x or y if I decide to–rather, he knows how important my writing is to me.

Plus, he’s really enjoying The Achdus Club books. He spent the weekend repeating a line of dialogue from Trouble Ahead, saying: “We have to get The Achdus Club together, stat!”

Now, get back to writing. Stat! 


NaNo Day 4: Reality Check

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Ok, by now the excitement and new-ness of NaNo is starting to wear off and reality is setting in. Since I started on Monday, I have written almost 6,000 words. Sounds great right? 

It is, I’m very excited about my story and how it’s progressing. I’ve found that setting the timer on NaNo’s “Word Sprints” challenges really helps me focus when I have super-short intervals — of maybe 10 minutes here and there — and I know I would otherwise be wasting time because it’s only 10 minutes. (Try it and see how much you can write in 10 minutes, I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised!)

This all sounds good, until, I looked at the little bar on the my NaNo personal stats page and noticed the little line that says “At this rate you will on …”

Just the other day it said November 28. Excellent right?

That was then and this is now, today it says I will be finished December 5. Now I know I have the whole day to accomplish my writing, but even if I make it to 1,667 today – there is virtually no chance I will be able to do so tomorrow what with the Jewish Sabbath and some prior (happy, fun and scheduled a long time ago) commitments that are slated for Saturday night.

Does this mean I’m already doomed to fail at NaNo? Is it a failure if I finish on December 5? Will it matter to the universe if it takes me a few extra days to complete my story? Will the kids who read the third book in my series (which is my NaNo book) really know the difference when they hold the book in their hands?

That would be a big, fat ​NO! 

And that’s what I will remind myself when I look at my personal stats page and see that it isn’t moving quite as fast as I’d hoped. I need to be happy with the progress I’ve already made and the progress I will continue making. And even when the dreaded “boring, sagging middle” rears its ugly head, I will keep moving forward to the best of my ability.

And what if December 5 comes and goes and my story still needs work? Then, I’ll just close my eyes and imagine my readers sitting there reading the book once it’s done, whenever that is, and get back to work.


My Pledge to Myself: NaNoWriMo, Day 2

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I was inspired by all the people I heard from who said they are going ahead and participating this year and, so, I went and registered. I’m officially doing NaNoWriMo. I’m not sure how that will work out given other prior writing commitmetns, but so far so good.

In just two days, here’s what I learned:

  • If I don’t sit and watch CNN, Fox and surf Pinterest, Craftsy and Amazon, etc., I can get a solid hour of writing done before work. (Yes, I did already know this, but it’s always good to have a reminder. )
  • Sometimes the best laid story plans come with absolutely no warning.
  • I am geniunely excited about what I wrote both yesterday and this morning.
  • Knowing that hundreds of thousands of people around the world are also participating and making writing a priority definitely helps.

Here’s what I’m still pondering:

  • What happens when I have to take a break to fulfill my other writing obligations?
  • If I don’t reach 50,000 words, but still do a significant chunk of my new story will it still be a win? (I say yes, but you know …)
  • What happens when the novelty of all this writing wears off and I’m left holding the pieces of a story that I can’t make work?

So here’s my pledge: I’m going to keep going as much as I can and not worry about what happens if. I will consider it an accomplishment that I’ve set this goal for myself and that I worked as hard as I could for as long as I could while still doing all the other things that need to be done each day. I hope you’ll join me and take this pledge.

And I’ll also really appreciate my husband who will understand that NaNoWriMo may put a crimp in what I’m making for dinner for the next few weeks.

My word count as of this morning: 3,413.


Time To Start Writing, NaNoWriMo Fans!

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Hi Everyone,
I hope you are enjoying a really brisk East Coast morning, or beautiful weather wherever you are. Though, if you are stuck inside you may have the advantage today as November 1 is officially the first day of National Novel Writing Month. For those who are participating, your goal is 1,667 words per day for the next 30 days!

If you’ve never written that many words at one time, don’t worry. Break up your writing day. Do 400 before your first cup of coffee, another 400 after you finish your morning routine (whatever that is), another 400 during your lunch hour and the remaining 467 words or so after dinner.

Don’t worry about getting your scenes and characters right, just write! Have fun! And, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, leave a comment or send an email. Why are you pushing yourself to write this month? What are you giving up to make writing a priority for November?


NaNoWriMo, Part 2 – Tips and Tricks

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If you read yesterday’s blog you know that November 1 starts NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write every day for one month, allowing you to reach 50,000 words by the end of November and have a (short) novel-length story completed.

Yes, it may seem overwhelming, but it is definitely do-able and fun to try.

If you are planning to try your hand at NaNoWriMo here are some things to consider:

1. Jot down some story notes now: 
Because of the time-crunch that is NaNoWriMo, it helps to have some sort of plan of what your story will be about and who the main characters are. You may also want to sketch out a few key scenes or major turning points in the story.

Now, I know that some of you don’t like to plot out stories in advance (neither do I), but in this case having even a very, very loose map will help things go smoother. Especially if you only have a short amount of time each day to produce the maximum number of written words.

2. Don’t worry about perfection:
NaNoWriMo is not about finishing the perfect or even publishable manuscript. It is about getting words down on paper and creating a rough draft that you can later revise and rewrite. More importantly, I think, it’s also about accomplishing something many people only dream about.

3. You are not alone:
One benefit of NaNoWriMo is that you are not alone in this. Thousands of would-be writers, and quite a number of already-published authors, use this month to kick their work into high gear. Why not benefit from the vast number of supportive emails, blogs, workshops and more that exist for NaNoWriMo participants?

4. Public spaces will be open for “write-ins”
Coffee shops, libraries and other gathering spaces have gotten used to the fact that during November, writers will stop in and bury themselves in their work. Some have special hours where you can join fellow writers and just write the hours away.

The official NaNoWriMo website offers tips and inspiration to keep you going throughout the month. My own advice, don’t think. Don’t analyze what you are writing or what direction the story is going. Just go with the flow and the let the words unfold. NaNoWriMo is about stream of consciousness writing not award-winning, bestselling prose.

Personally I think the real benefit of NaNoWriMo doesn’t rest in the idea that you will finish a book in a month, but rather that you will join a collective of writers all of whom are making their creative endeavor a key priority in their lives.

  • They are standing up together and saying that their writing is important to them.
  • They are saying they have stories they wish to tell.
  • They are saying they are willing to try for their dreams.

So if you dream of being a writer why not join them and try? Don’t feel like you MUST finish a book this month (though if you can that’s amazing). Rather, designate November as “My Writing Month” MWM, set a goal for yourself and just start writing.

And if you are looking for some more inspiring words to get you on your writing journey, consider picking up this motivational writing guide.


November Is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

 

Yes, writing friends, it is that time of the year. Time to sharpen your pencils, flex your fingers and begin pounding on the keyboard as November is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo.

If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo, the concept is simple: If you write just 1,666 words per day, every day then by the end of November you will have written 50,000 words–the length of a short novel.

Notice that I said the concept is simple, the acutality is a bit harder. After all, if you are going to write a novel in just a month you’ll have to forgo some things (laundry, dishes, catching up on Netflix, etc.) and focus singularly on your writing.

Can it be done? Sure! Last year more than 40,000 people wrote at least 50,000 words. (More than 430,000 people worldwide participated in NaNoWriMo overall last year.)

Can you participate in NaNoWriMo without it being your ONLY focus for November? Yes. After all, we still have to deal with Election Day, Thanksgiving (just don’t offer to host this year’s festivities if you are participating in NaNoWriMo, it won’t turn out well, trust me!), not to mention Veteran’s Day, Black Friday and just, you know, your day-to-day life.

So when do you write? During your bus or train commute, while waiting in the pickup line for school dismissal, While waiting at the doctor/DMV or other appointment, before breakfast (yes, you will be getting up early/staying up later to get your word count in), on the train or plane for Thanksgiving with the family, before sitting down to said Thanksgiving meal, after you’ve spent way too much money on Black Friday. You write instead of going for your usual manicure. You write instead of leaving your desk at lunch hour. You write instead of going to the movies or out with friends on Saturday night.

In essence, you write anytime you can grab a few minutes during the day. (And if you have a flexible schedule that will allow you to write for an hour or two at a time, well, you are really lucky!)

NaNoWriMo does take a commitment, but as a writer you have to make the commitment and show up and do the work. Plus, it’s a great challenge and a wonderful way to flex your writing muscles.

COMING TOMORROW, Part 2: Things to consider if you want to try NaNoWriMo.