Reading & Writing

Na-NO-Wri-Mo

When I was a student, November seemed like a great month to commit to writing. It was generally a quiet month. The school year was well underway and my routines set. The Thanksgiving break meant extra hours at my computer while someone else baked and basted.

How nice that was.

Continue reading “Na-NO-Wri-Mo”
Reading & Writing

NaNoWriMo Recap

cropped-pen-and-paper.pngI have to confess something, you guys.

I totally failed at NaNoWriMo this year.

I was doing so well for the first week, never letting anything get in my way–you could practically hear “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background. When I didn’t know what to write I wrote anyway. I really started developing my characters.

Then I realized that my characters were me and my husband and it was getting too personal and convoluted and I was using it as therapy and I really didn’t want to write this story because it dug too deep and it felt inaccurate and I got overwhelmed. I tried to switch gears, start a new project. Then I got busy. I did what I told you all not to do; I skipped a day. Then I skipped another. I slid all the way down that slippery slope.

BUT: Do you remember what I said about NaNoWriMo being a writing exercise more than a quick way to produce a novel? Even when you don’t finish it, it is. And the point of writing exercises is to open up your creativity, give you fresh ideas, and maybe help you learn about yourself as a writer. For me, it was the latter. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Recap”

Reading & Writing

NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Skip to the End

IMG_0454You are almost there, you NaNoWriMo-er, you. Just one more day! You will make it to that finish line. You WILL.

But you might be having trouble. You might be exhausted.

Here’s what you’re gonna do. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Skip to the End”

Reading & Writing

NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Something Sweet

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How’s it going, writer? Are the keys still clattering, the pens still scratching? I hope so. It’s pretty amazing to push through a challenge like this. There are low points, yes, but I think overall it gives you confidence. At the end, you get the runner’s high of knowing you finished a marathon. I know from experience: that feels amazing.

 

I want you to reward yourself today. If I could, I would give each and every one of you a piece of your favorite candy and a high five. (And if you don’t like candy, you weirdo, I guess I’d give you…um…bacon?) Obviously, I can’t do that (though if you know me personally, feel free to hold me to my word) but I can encourage you to get yourself a treat, sit down, and savor it. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Something Sweet”

Reading & Writing

NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Go Somewhere Beautiful

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We are smack in the middle of NaNoWriMo, and by now you’re probably getting tired. Maybe you know where your plot is going; maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re getting a little sick of your characters, or you feel like you’re just a robotic typing machine and writing has become little more than a chore you grudgingly get through each day. Maybe you’re thinking that NaNoWriMo is a joke, and whatever reasons you had to start this challenge now seem thin and brittle.

You could quit. Popular wisdom aside, quitting is ALWAYS an option. You didn’t pay anything to do this (unless you donated, but that’s a charitable thing, not an entrance fee) and unless you’ve plugged into the network of NaNo enthusiasts (which it’s never too late to do), no one is really expecting you to finish.

Self care is important. If it’s killing you, why continue?

But is it really killing you? Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Go Somewhere Beautiful”

Reading & Writing

NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Get Your Protagonist in Trouble

IMG_0659Here you are, typing away, the words flowing out of you because you are a writer and you’re devoted to your craft and you are going to be the next Pulitzer Prize winner and this might be the novel to do it when—

SCREECH!

You hit a writer’s block.

These things happen. Normally, you might move on to another project or wait a few days or take in a movie or read a book–whatever you need to get inspired again. But it’s NaNoWriMo. You made a promise to yourself. You’ve got a word count to fulfill. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Writing Prompt: Get Your Protagonist in Trouble”

Reading & Writing

How to Win NaNoWriMo

blogger-chicken.pngHappy November!

Halloween has come and gone and today, All Saints Day, thousands of writers across the country are firing up their word processors for the first day of NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.

If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo, here’s the gist: to participate in the official NaNoWriMo competition, you go on the website, create an account, and then spend the next 30 days hammering out 50,000 words of fiction. Continue reading “How to Win NaNoWriMo”

Reading & Writing

I Should Be NaNoWriMo-ing…

It’s November third, which means it’s day three of NaNoWriMo: what you might call a literary event, held every year, in which hundreds (thousands?) of writers sit down for a couple hours a day all November long and try to crank out a novel (or, at least, 50,000 words). It’s a task I’ve tried twice and completed once, both a long, long time ago. The time I “won” (they love their supportive and potentially over-the-top language on the NaNoWriMo site), I never ended up finishing the novel (even if 50,000 words were a full novel draft, which it ain’t, a first draft is not a finished product, I don’t care who you are), though I worked on it for a couple years after that. The novel I eventually did end up completing, which is in my agent’s (and several potential publishers’–eek! wish me luck!) hands at the moment, was the product of maybe five years all together, writing connected stories, figuring out my character, cobbling things together–about as opposite as you can get from the NaNoWriMo model. Because as much as people will tell you to spit out the first draft quickly and then fix it up later, that’s not how I work. New ideas come to me. I reroute and redirect. I comb through the old before I try to untangle the new.

So that’s why I’m NaNoWriMo-ing. Because it’s not me. Because I never work from an outline or spit things out quickly or write without looking back. And I will not cave to all those who would say that’s a bad thing, but I do believe that writers need to keep trying new things. I don’t want to write the same story over and over again, so why should I always write the same way? So this time, I have an outline (at least, through two-thirds of the book–plus a pretty good idea of the ending), and I’m plugging away during my baby’s naps and after the kids are sleeping and whatever stolen moments I need. And I’m already feeling the old urge to polish up the sentences before moving on but I won’t do it. Instead, I’m taking to the internet to publicly remind myself of why I’m doing this and how it is to be done.

That wast three hundred and seventy-nine words. Do they count toward my total?