Free Writing

NaNoWriMo Day 18: Record Breaking Change of Plan

See that picture right there? Yeah, that one to the left, and there’s a larger one at the bottom. See them? That’s what getting caught up with NaNo after being almost two weeks behind looks like. That’s what forcing myself to pound out nearly 6,000 words looks like. That’s what writing my butt off looks like. (And I mean that quite literally. My butt was numb for quite a while yesterday.)

I know to some of you that may not seem like much, but to me it’s the most I’ve ever written in one day. My previous record was a little over 5,000 words during Camp NaNoWriMo.

 

I know the more I force myself to write every day, the easier writing will come, but I noticed something in common with both of those record breaking days:

I planned.

That’s right, this so-called ‘pantser’ actually sat down and took the time to plan out where the story was going. It was only after planning, that I was able to pound out 5 and 6k words. Almost like they were nothing.

 

I think it’s also getting easier because because I’m nearing the end of the book. Soul Weaver currently sits at 94,515 words with a total goal of around 115k. But that’s only for NaNoWriMo purposes. I won’t be disappointed if I only write another 5k before typing “THE END”, but I have a feeling that’s not going to happen. There’s so much I have yet to write. The climax is coming. The MC needs to grow. The bad guy needs to be defeated. People need to die. (In the book! In the book!) I know I have another good 10-15k to write.

 

The problem with being a pantser is that you never really know what to write until you write it. There are times you get stuck because you’re not sure where it’s going. Like introducing a new character. Or ten. That was the case a few days ago when my MC met a group of people that I knew would be instrumental in the end, but I had no idea how to write them. I had to take the time to sit down and name them; give them a back story; find out what their personalities were; and what their role would be, before I could continue.

Had I planned all of it out from the beginning I would have been able to write through that chapter without an issue. So after I wrote them into the story, I took the time to plan out where the rest of the book was going.

Chapter by chapter I wrote what needed to happen next. I gave myself some flex room in case a character decided to do something odd without asking first. (We’ve all had those moments right? We think our characters are going to do something, only to find out that they do something totally different.) In the end, I planned from the next chapter until the end of the book.

And you know what happened? I was able to punch out 3k, 4k, and almost 6k words in one day. Not only that, but I felt much more comfortable with my writing. By this time I know my MCs well enough that was easier to write their story in the direction I now know it’s going.

 

To say that I think I may have learned a lesson here would be an understatement. I have a sequel in mind after finishing Soul Weaver and it might be safe to say that it will involve a lot more planning beforehand. Maybe I’ll be able to be one of those people who finish NaNoWriMo in one day!

Wait a minute. Who am I kidding? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Maybe I can just shoot for 75k in 30 days instead. Yeah, that sounds a little more reasonable.

 

So I leave you with this: If you’re still lagging behind, struggling to catch up, and maybe thinking you won’t be able to finish – try doing something different. Something you don’t usually do. If you’re a planner, try pantsing. If you’re a panster, try planning. If you’re a little bit of both, take a break and challenge yourself by writing a short back story for a side character.

Another thing you can do is to find someone to challenge you. A little bit of writing truth or dare if you will. My friend Aaron Steinmetz and I did that during Camp WriMo this year and I’ll be darned if one of his challenges didn’t wind up becoming an important part of my novel.

If you’ve never played, it goes like this:

You: I dare you to write about a three legged dog.

Friend: Okay, I dare you to have one of your characters use the word ‘fart’.

It’s as simple as that. You both write the other person’s challenge and before you know it, you’ve just added another couple (or hundred…or thousand) words to your novel. Rinse and repeat. Keep in mind: if you don’t like it, you can always edit it out later.

 

If you’re still struggling, don’t fret. NaNoWriMo is meant to get writers into the habit of writing every day. Even if it’s just a few words. So if you don’t wind up with 50k words by November 30th, but you continue to hammer away at your writing every day then you, my friend, have already won.

 

CaughtupNaNo2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Free Writing

NaNoWriMo Day 9: There’s Still Hope

It’s day 9 of NaNoWriMo and I’ve only written 7,807 words. Yes, I’ve fallen behind. I fell behind after day 4, but I wasn’t worried because I thought I had time to catch up. But the day I had set aside, wound up being an incredibly dramatic day for my family.

Without going into detail, I will say that my eldest son has had some very rough times lately. Two days ago he decided it was too much to handle and attempted something terrifyingly drastic. It wasn’t something I would have ever thought he would do and thankfully, he failed. Let me tell you, as a parent, I would not wish this on anyone. Not even my worst enemy.

The feelings of helplessness, guilt, fear, and not knowing what to do next was overwhelming as I drove to meet him and his father. No parent should ever have to feel this way. And no child should ever feel that the things that happen in their life are that bad.

When I met up with my son, he immediately ran over to me and hugged me tight. I held him for what seemed like forever as we both cried on each other’s shoulders. He apologized and swore he would never do anything like that again. While he seemed to understand the consequences of his actions and is more than willing to attend the counseling he will now need, he and I also know that things won’t be the same for a long time. If ever.

I’m grateful that I was able to take him home with me that night. Along with his little brother and sister, we all had a fantastic weekend together. Afterwards, he told me that he was glad he spent this time with me. He said it was relaxing. That he was able to forget about the stress of everything for a while. That made me smile and warmed my heart.

I’ll admit that even though I was on my guard in case he slipped, I had a great time as well. One of the coolest things we did was stay up into the wee hours of the morning talking about a book that he wants to write. He’s well aware of my endeavor to finish Soul Weaver and would frequently ask me how it’s coming along. He’s even read the first few chapters, but told me that he won’t read the rest until I’m finished and that I have to finish it. But this is the first time I’ve ever heard him talk about being interested in writing, let alone any sort of novel.

We spoke for a long time about what it would be, and the more we talked, the more the plot was painted in our minds. He wants to write a historical fiction. A steam-punk Civil War along the same lines as the Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfield. We got online and did some research. We plotted out time lines. We looked up the technology that was used. We came up with names for the main characters and a little bit of their back story. We even came up with a name for it. Ideas were pouring forth as we wrote down everything we could think of.

In the end we wound up with nearly three pages of notes and something that we could bond over (outside of video games). I can only hope that after this weekend this project can be this is something that he can look forward to. Something that he can escape reality for and pour his creativity into. And though it will be his own project, I hope that this can be something that he and I can share and work on together. Maybe, just maybe, it will give him something to focus on when he thinks things are getting too much to handle again. As long as it’s only a side project and doesn’t add to his stress, I will support him one million percent in his endeavor.

Now I have the perfect motivation to keep pushing forward with Soul Weaver. Now when he asks how it’s coming along, I can tell him that I’m still dutifully slugging away. Now, I can ask him how his is coming along as well. Now we can motivate each other.

 

It’s day 9 of NaNoWriMo and I’m behind. But I will get caught up. Because I want to show my son that it can be done. And son, if you’re reading this, maybe this time next year you’ll be a part of this event with me. Slugging away at our novels and helping each other to the finish line. A mother can only hope, right?

 

Hope

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NaNoWriMo 2014 – Day One: Are We There Yet?

Day 1 of NaNoWriMo is here. I started at midnight, and at 3:30am I made 2116 words. I’m happy with that. 🙂

I suppose I should be called a “rebel” for this WriMo because I’m actually continuing Soul Weaver from this April’s Camp WriMo. I made it over 65k words before November started, but I know it still has a lot more to go. So between finishing the novel and editing what I’ve already written I still have a goal of 50k words. I took a long break after April and I plan to take December off as well, but come January, I’ll be doing some heavy editing and possibly even sending it out to some beta readers. (So if anyone who reads my blog is interested, shoot me a line and I’ll put you down as a beta.)

Today’s only the first day but I’m already thinking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

To which I think of Pixar’s The Incredibles: “We’ll get there when we get there!!”

(This whole scene is pretty much NaNoWriMo in a nutshell!)

Good luck to my fellow NaNoers! Feel free to buddy up with me on the NaNo site!

 

NaNoWriMo14

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