NaNoWriMo 2018 Recap

So… If you read my last post and were waiting for weekly updates, you probably noticed I didn’t write any.

I really did intend to write an update every week. You can see at the end of this post I had written two days worth… and then I stopped.

About a week before NaNoWriMo, I started reading Story Genius –How to use brain science to go beyond outlining and write a riveting novel — before you waste three years writing 327 pages that go nowhere by Lisa Cron.

Well, when I started applying her technique, I found that the scenes almost wrote themselves. It’s such an effective method for me, but it takes some time to set up.

If I had found this book two months before NaNoWriMo, I’m pretty sure I would have won, and then some. And because I was following the new technique, I didn’t want to just write anything just to get my word count. I wanted to write something that I could really work with.

I still managed to write over 11,000 words. I’m happy with that considering how my month went with family issues and getting used to a new job, and the fact that I’m still learning this structured approach to writing.

I feel more confident than ever that I can and will write this novel.

I’m hesitate to set another deadline… but what the heck. How about I aim for finishing this novel for an e-book release date of December 1, 2019.

This may not be realistic considering my day job is starting to ramp up a bit. But I want to try.

The more I’m getting into my story, the more I’m falling for my characters and the more I want to see what’s going to happen.

I’m looking forward to sharing Melissa with you.


Day 1

word count: 1708

I was worried before I started writing that I wouldn’t be able to.

I get to work about 45 minutes earlier than I need to. It just makes it easier with traffic and all.

So as soon as I got to work, I just powered up my laptop and started writing like it was my job. And just like that, I wrote over 760 words in about 30 minutes.

Then, I wrote for 20 minutes during lunch and got to 1248 words.

And then, when I got home, I cuddled with Chris a little, prepared a snack, and wrote for 30 minutes, bringing my total up to 1708 words for my first day.

When I stopped I felt like I could have kept going. But I wanted to pace myself, so I stopped. I’m trying to prevent NaNoWriMo fatigue. I don’t know if it’s a thing, but I don’t want it to become a thing for me.

My plan is to pace myself during the week getting to a least my daily 1667-word goal, and do a little binge writing on the weekends to try and get ahead of my writing goal for when, you know, life happens.

Even though it was a successful writing day, I’m still not sure I’ll be able to write tomorrow.

Day 2

Word count: 2134

I was tired today. I wrote for 30 minutes this morning, but it felt a little forced. I tried to write at night, but I could only manage 7 words.

I did do some planning though. I’m not officially counting that, however it will help for the rest of the writing.

Creativity in the shadows

I have been quiet lately. At least, online.

I haven’t given up writing. I have been setting up my writing office and working on a novel.

What does my office look like?

Imagine a bright and sunny room where I write the most wonderful stories at a big white desk. There’s a clear glass vase filled with roses on the corner. The windows are wide open to a bright blue sky – white sheer curtains dance in the gentle breeze.

I get up and walk barefoot across the warm hardwood floor – a cup of tea in my hands – and look out over the yard to the lake where the waves catch the sun.

I squint from the glare, take a deep breath, smile, and walk back to my desk to keep writing.

This is my office… *sound of a needle scratching a record* … in my dreams.

Actually, I write in a dark corner of our basement storage area, next to the furnace, and as far away as I can get from the household goings-on while still remaining in the house.

I need to feel completely alone to write – this hideout seems to do the trick.

It’s the only somewhat free space in the house where I could create an office.

Chris finished prepping the walls for me to paint, and he’ll be laying down a laminate floor to make it more comfortable for me.

He’s pretty awesome.

However, since I couldn’t wait for the hideout to be finished, we’ve already set it up  on the concrete floor and unpainted walls so that I could start using it right away.

Even though it’s unfinished, I love my space.

Being in the basement reminds me of when I was a teenager and claimed the basement in my family home as my artist’s studio. (I love that my parents let me do that!)

Seems as though creativity in the shadows suits me well… for now.

I would prefer the office of my dreams, but I feel that I can now focus on writing in my hideout.

So if you’re looking for me, I’m probably in the basement, creating in the shadows.


The Warrior Writer

I’ve been reading advice on writing from various sources and the consensus seems to be; write first-thing in the morning. Apparently, that’s what many of the great writers do. Some wake up around 5:30 or even before and get right to work.

I pretty much always wake up early. Often before dawn. But unlike the great writers I’ve been reading about, I usually linger in bed waiting until the last possible minute before I need to leave for work, and then rush around to get ready.

One morning this week, as soon as I woke up, I decided to get up, brush my teeth, get dressed, and head downstairs to write. I had about two hours to write if I was to leave at my usual time.

I grabbed a glass of water with ice, and my laptop. I sat on the couch and started working on The Creeplies.

I was doing it! What I was writing was maybe not great, but I was doing it like the greats!

I was able to write for a full hour before I started to doze off. I turned off my laptop and took a nap on the couch. I figured I’d wake up when Chris would come downstairs to leave for work.

Although it wasn’t the perfect writing session, it was definitely a good start. I’m sure I can get used to this routine without even needing to nap.

When Chris came downstairs, I woke up. We talked a little, hugged, kissed goodbye. I drank my coffee, had a bagel, and then left for work.

As I was leaving home, there was a soft, light, fluffy, slow snow falling. The magical kind.

I got in my car, put on an audio book on writing, and drove off.

I was very much at peace. The romantic “life-is-wonderful” type of peace. I was even happy there was traffic because it meant I could enjoy more of the audiobook. Traffic usually makes me grumpy.

While I was driving, the woman narrating the audiobook was describing how writers typically feel when they sit down to write. She’s describing the doubt and self-loathing and struggle they may feel before being able to get a few words down. I tried to remember how I was feeling this morning when I was writing.

Immediately, I heard the deafening scream of a warrior as she was charging into battle. I could actually see her furrowed brow, her crazy eyes, her mouth stretched out in the scream. Her wild long brown hair dancing in the wind. Her right arm above her head wielding a heavy wooden caveman type club ready to clobber her opponent. I love that image! A warrior writer!

The rest of the morning was all pleasant conversations and compliments.

Now I don’t know if the early morning writing was responsible for the great start to my day, but I’ll definitely work on making it a habit, summon the warrior writer, and see what happens.

Stephen King On Writing

Alright, for some reason, King’s work has been on my path lately.

I started following him (and a few other authors I could think of) on Twitter when I decided to take my writing seriously. I figured I should surround myself, even if it was just virtually, with other writers. And I’m glad I did, because one of his tweets inspired a story (which is still simmering).

On Writing came up often as recommended reading for me in 2017. So I bought it and it’s the first one I read from my 2018 reading list.

And now, from reading it, three things have happened:

  1. I want to read more.
  2. I want to read more of his stuff.
  3. I now feel I have permission to write what and how I want.

I’m not usually drawn to the genre of fiction he writes. But I quite enjoyed his writing style. I want more!

The first part of On Writing is a sort of brief biography on how he got into writing. He has a sort of disclaimer at the beginning saying that he only remembers snippets of his childhood, so that’s what and how he wrote it. Reading that lifted a self-imposed weight from my shoulders.

Where did that weight come from?

Well, one piece of advice I’ve read on writing (from a few different sources) suggests to practice by writing about your life. That’s always sort of stopped me in my tracks. I don’t think that I could write all of my life story with great accuracy. So, since I don’t expect to write it perfectly, I haven’t even been able to start writing it at all.

However, King wrote what he remembered of his childhood. And as I was reading, I started to see how I could do something similar with my life story. In fact, some of his memories triggered some of mine. They’re not even similar, but nevertheless, they were triggered.

Ah! Maybe I’m starting to sound like a weirdo?

I’m not obsessing over King. He just happens to be one of the current muses. And who cares where inspiration comes from, as long as it comes. Right?

Writing challenge

It’s 9:18 PM on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. Chet Baker is playing in the background. I’m sitting at the computer by candlelight. I am trying to meet my self-imposed challenge—to write.

This past weekend, I decided (again) to try to better myself and take charge of certain areas of my life (again). Writing for at least 20 minutes every day is one of those challenges.

But I don’t know where to start. I look at my works in progress, and I’m not sure which one I should focus on. So, I start yet another piece. This one.

I guess the point is to write. Whatever I write.

You may be thinking that someone who claims to be a writer shouldn’t have to challenge themselves to write. Well, I do.

I work with words all day. Even more so lately. I write. I edit. I translate. I review.

Although I’m allowed certain creativity at work, it’s government work. They are not MY words. They are the government’s words. They are not MY thoughts. They are the government’s thoughts. I just have to convey them as well as I can. And, most importantly, I have deadlines.

This, my creative work, is all me. I answer only to myself. If I don’t impose my own challenges and deadlines, there is minimal to no creation. Hence, the self-imposed writing challenge.

How do I keep myself accountable? I just track it. I’m one of those people who’s gotten into that whole bullet-journal thing. I’m not even consistent with that. However, unlike anything else I’ve ever tried before, this works for me (when I use it). And I keep going back to the same one I started in February 2017. The flexibility and “easy-goingness” of this type of journaling makes me feel alright about going back to my half-filled notebook.

I’ve been known to abandon a perfectly fine notebook because I had used up 10 or so pages, but didn’t like the direction I was going in. However, with a bullet journal, I feel free to be as disjointed as I want. I know, there was nothing stopping me from taking this type of approach before with previous notebooks except my own mindset.

Anyway, my raspberry-coloured bullet journal is where I track my writing challenge, along with my other challenges.

My hope is to discipline myself enough where creative writing just becomes as much of a normal routine as brushing my teeth. Or even more primitive than that, as normal and necessary as relieving myself. Ewww! Sorry about that. But you get what I mean.

As I sit here writing, I notice that I’ve met and even surpassed my self-imposed 20-minute writing challenge and I wonder why this hasn’t already become a normal routine. Even though this piece is somewhat disjointed (and I won’t even edit it anymore than I’m doing as I write it), writing is such a luxurious pleasure!

I don’t know if luxurious pleasure is quite the right way to describe it, but it’s all I can think of right now.

Ah! If I keep at it, I’m sure (I hope) I’ll improve my writing style and become better at expressing my thoughts. But for tonight, this rough, unpolished piece is what I’m posting for anyone to read.

Hopefully, despite this piece, you’ll stick around to see how my writing challenge helps me improve my prose.