The End of the Month Wrap-Up: November 2015!


November was the month of NaNo.  I participated, I won, and I came damn close to finishing the entire draft, since I was working on a novel I’d already started.  I’ve got two chapters left, tops, so I’m looking to finish it by the end of the week, and take a short break (or at least, a slow-down) on writing to work on my Christmas shopping, baking, and crafting.

This month I read a LOT less than usual, though I did sneak in four books here and there.  I didn’t acquire any new physical books, just a few ebooks, because I’m still marveling over how much I love having a Kindle.  Also because I have a weakness for free ebooks when authors put them on special.

I have been to the library zero times.  I miss it.  There’s a huge book sale at the main branch in two weeks, so I’ll definitely be going at least to that!

I got everything fully set for my book release (one week from today! OMG!) and started the marketing ball rolling, including whipping up a few guest posts for other blogs.  (Want me to do one for yours?  I’d love to!  Leave a comment and invite me over, I’ll bring tea and cookies.)

My plans for December, beyond all the holiday goodies and the book release, are to read more books by women (thank you, #readwomen) and pull together my notes for the next book into something resembling an outline, so I can get started on that soon.  I always get a lot of writing done over the holidays, once the controlled chaos of getting all the gifts together has passed!

And while we’re not quite to the super-sappiness of the close of the year, when everyone starts thanking everyone…well, I’m going to do it early.  All the support I’ve gotten here on the blog has been wonderful, the thoughtful comments especially, but the likes too!  I love seeing people respond to my work, and it means a lot that you take the time to tell me, even if it’s just jabbing that little Like star.  So, thank you, everyone, whether you’re one of my faithful followers or not, if you take the time to read my words, you’ve made me happy.

The NaNoWriMo Progress Report, Week 4

This week’s word counts:

  • Saturday: 2013
  • Sunday: 3134 (passed the 50K mark to win!)
  • Monday: 1998
  • Tuesday: 1056
  • Wednesday: 2264
  • Thursday: 2254
  • Friday: 1008

Since I’ve “won”, now, I’m being a little kinder to myself with the daily word count goals–Tuesday and today were busy-busy days, so I let myself off with only 1K.

I’m truly in the home stretch with this draft, now, at 82K total (including what I wrote pre-NaNo), with one chapter in progress and two more planned still to write. I could, conceivably, be finished by the end of the month.  I may not be, but it’s a big, shiny goal to shoot for.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

word count finished

Picture a snow-bound but sunny Sunday afternoon.  Fuzzy slippers, check.  Scented candle, check. Mug of tea, check.

But the words wouldn’t come.  She writes for an hour and barely manages 800 words.

She goes to Twitter.  Maybe some sprints will help.

The ten-minute sprint gets her to 1200-some words.  The next one is for twenty, and she breaks 1900.

The last is a 1k30min challenge, and she squeezes out 1,147.

She looks at her total for the day, and realizes she’s won.  It’s time to validate her novel!

(I will be continuing to write for the rest of the month, or until this novel draft is finished, whichever comes first, so my progress-report post will still be here for one more Friday.  But news this big wouldn’t wait until then!)

The NaNoWriMo Progress Report, Week 3

This week’s word counts:

  • Saturday: 1974
  • Sunday: 3463
  • Monday: 1691
  • Tuesday: 2070
  • Wednesday: 3028
  • Thursday: 1788
  • Friday: 1026

Grand total: 45,139.

That 1K today looks so sad compared to my personal NaNo record-setting day on Sunday, but last night, looking at everything I had to get done today, I knew I wouldn’t have much time to write, so I let myself have a light day and set my goal at 500 words.  Then I wrote 1,026 anyway!

I slogged through the hardest, saggiest part of my plot this week, the part I know I didn’t get even remotely right, the part where conflicting ideas about the characters I’d introduced fought for dominance, the part where I realized I never actually described the new characters’ physical appearance beyond gender, and the fact that the woman is pregnant.  I guess I pictured faceless, nondescript mannequins acting out their parts, because they showed up for about 15K of the novel, and I still don’t have any idea what they look like.

Rewriting this section is going to be an absolute devil.  But when I reread it, I’ll be able to stab a plot point with my finger and say, “This is terrible, I should have done this instead!”

…which of course means I’ll know how to fix it.  There’s a lot to be said for getting down the words, even when you know it’s terrible, because it’s easier to fix something bad than get it perfect on the first try.

You know, just in case you need to hear that again.  Get it down, fix it later.

The NaNoWriMo Progress Report, Week 2

This week’s word counts:

  • Saturday: 1769
  • Sunday: 3099
  • Monday: 1738
  • Tuesday: 3109
  • Wednesday: 2202
  • Thursday: 1751
  • Friday: 1875

I had a lot more going on this week that kept me from writing, but because I’m trying to write much more than 50K, the absolute minimum I set myself as a daily word goal is 1667, to keep on track, and even when that’s the goal I still push past 1700 just to squeak out a little extra.  My total word count stands at 30,139 today, when par is  21,666–so I’m happy with those eight thousand extra words.

I already had the beginning of the novel written, and when NaNo started I jumped straight to the end, writing the final five chapters first (though in nearly reverse order, oddly enough.)  Now I’m struggling though the murkily-defined middle, where I knew things had to happen, but I saw the bright light at the end of the novel so clearly, I let myself think far more about plotting that out point for point than I did digging into the squishy guts of the center.

It feels like a slog sometimes, and it feels like I don’t have enough there to support the length of the story I’m aiming for.

Which means I need more conflict!  And here I was, reading something else earlier this week, thinking am I being mean enough to my characters?  Could they be suffering more?

So it’s time to get mean.  (/wink)

Getting Unstuck: The Rubber Duck


I’ve been sailing along through NaNoWriMo so easily up until now, it was inevitable that I would hit a wall, a day where making my word count felt like a chore and a hassle.  My well was dry, my brain was empty, and I knew what needed to happen to get me from Point A to Point B, but not how it had to happen.

Behold the Rubber Duck.

I’m not above co-opting problem-solving methods from disciplines outside of writing.  And “rubber-duck debugging” is a method for code engineers to find the problems in their code by explaining precisely what they’re attempting to do, line by line, to a rubber duck.

At some point during the explanation, the engineer realizes where his mistake lies, so he can fix it.

Now, I don’t actually have a rubber duck on my desk, I have Groot and BMO.  They’re both good listeners, as it happens.

When you’re writing a scene, and you know something needs to happen, but not what; or you know what needs to happen, but not how; or you know how it needs to happen, but not why…well, try explaining it to the duck.

Once you hear yourself reason it out, you’ll either find the flaw in your thinking that was tripping you up, or you’ll end up brainstorming your way right out of your block.

Or you’ll feel like a fool, but at least, only the duck will know.

The NaNoWriMo Progress Report, Week 1

Full steam ahead!  My word counts for each day:

  • Sunday: 3170
  • Monday: 1763
  • Tuesday: 2391
  • Wednesday: 3679
  • Thursday: 1888
  • Friday: 1705

Total as of this post: 14596.  (I may write more this afternoon if I find some extra time, like squeezing in a sprint or two while the dishes are soaking.)

As you can see, I’m ahead of the curve (1667 words a day for 50K at the end); par for today is 10K on the nose.  But I’m setting myself daily goals of 2K, 2500, or 3K when I think I’ll have enough time, and the bare minimum 1667 when I’m afraid I won’t, like today.  (But I made it!)

Since I broke a cardinal piece of NaNo advice by continuing a previously-started project, I’m actually at 38K for the whole thing.  The reasoning (which is solid, most of the time) is that reviving an old project carries too much emotional expectation with it, and/or that there’s a reason you didn’t finish it in the first place.

In my case, the reason I didn’t finish it is because I put it on hold to work on publishing something else, not because I got stuck or felt disappointed! By the time November 1st came around, I was more than ready to dive back in.

I don’t necessarily think I’ll be done with the entire draft by the end of NaNo.  (My first draft for WWNTS was about 101K before I started hacking it to pieces, so I’m hoping the sequel will be about as long in rough draft form.  Which means I still have 60K to go…we’ll see.)  If it’s not done, I will keep up a NaNo-like pace and devotion until it is.  Being so close to publishing the first book is making me eager to get the second one fully under way!

Whether you’re a NaNoer or not, I hope your own writing has gone well this week, and I’ll be back on Monday!

A Melodramatic Interlude

High on the sugar rush of leftover Halloween candy, the writer sits at her desk, bemoaning how life sometimes imitates art: she has inflicted a dire fever upon one of her characters, and now, the next day, suffers a fever herself, that weighs upon her head like a crown and burns in the hollows of her bones as bright as the candle alight on her desk.

She plods steadily on, even when the bright screen before her swims in her vision, to reach the goal she set herself before collapsing in a heap on her couch to soothe her beleaguered brain with fluff and nonsense, preferably of a romantic bent.

She then realizes she still needs to post to her blog before doing so, and writes some torturous purple prose to entertain her faithful readers.

(Ugh. Pass the aspirin, please.  And send some get well vibes along–or, maybe, “don’t get worse” vibes–because the last thing I want is to be laid up with fever and chills for days when I should be writing!)

One Hundred!

This is my hundredth post!  I haven’t missed a (week)day since I began this blog in June.  Let me just strain my shoulder patting myself on the back…

But, realistically, during NaNoWriMo I doubt I will be posting five times a week.  I love my blog and my readers and all the likes and comments and fun little conversations…but I’ve got a first novel to publish, and the second novel to blitz-write.

So I will aim for a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule.  And I’d already decided to limit my word-count bragging (here, anyway) to once a week.  As excited as I am to be participating, I don’t want this blog to be nothing but NaNo for the entire month of November.

Tomorrow will be the End of the Month Wrap-Up, since it falls over the weekend.  And by Monday I’ll be working on the new novel!

NaNoWriMo Prep #4: Learning to Love Word Vomit

I have always been a compulsive self-editor.  When I write, I’ll type out a sentence and look at it and say to myself, “That could have come out better.” And then I’ll try to fix it, instead of writing the next sentence.  When I sit down to write again and find myself uninspired, I’m guilty of rereading what I’ve already got down and nitpicking it instead of trying to move forward.

Most writing advice says not to do any of that in a first draft, and with good reason.  So NaNo, for me, is an exercise in embracing the truth: that a first draft of anything will be full of flaws and mistakes and typos and clunky, inelegant prose.

NaNo is not the time to train yourself out of using adverbs.  NaNo is not the time to work on sprucing up your dialogue tags.  NaNo is not the time to practice expanding your vocabulary to drop more ten-dollar words into your writing.

NaNo is about getting it done, plain and simple.  Let those fingers fly, and edit later.  Silence your inner critic (for a month, at least) and let the flaws come pouring out onto the page.  That sentence that you think is horrible now, you can change later–and chances are, it’s not as bad as you think anyway, and you might not even remember you didn’t like it when it comes time to edit.

Get the story down, and get that word count cranking.  Everything else?  You can fix it after New Year’s.  I promise.