Top 10 Tips to Survive NaNoWriMo 2017

It’s nearly here. November is just a couple weeks away. Time for NaNoWriMo- or National Novel Writing Month. This is where you make a crazy dash for the finish line, by writing the first draft of your novel in 30 days. I’ve taken part three times, and it’s fun, stressful, and eye-opening at the same time. But, it shows me I can: (1) write daily (2) meet a deadline (3) and survive without wasting time on Facebook or Netflix. Maybe you won’t write the next “War and Peace”, but you will have the basis for a novel you can build on.
Here are things that helped me “win” NaNo in the past.
1. If you have Facebook pages you maintain, like an author page or book page, set up your posts for Nov. ahead of time. You can schedule posts to show anytime you chose. This saves time looking for or writing content, so you can focus on your novel.
2. Try to pick a set time to write each day. When its work time, no excuses.
3. Pick a time when you are most in your “creative zone”. I get my best ideas and work done between 10 pm and 3 am. Some people get up an hour early to write before work. Whatever works.
4. Don’t worry about getting it right the first time. It’s a draft, a starting point. You can edit later, for now, you need to get the words on the page.
5. Make NaNo buddies. Accountability can help you keep your writing commitment.
6. Make sure it’s a subject you love. You will be spending a lot of time with it.
7. Outline! Now I know some of you are “pantsers”. With 30 days it doesn’t allow enough time to re-write a draft if it falls apart midway due to losing direction. Your characters can still do their own thing, but with a roadmap to follow.
8. Explain to your family/loved ones what you are doing. They may not see as much of you or get your undivided attention. But if you tell them how important this is to you, most understand and even cheer you on.
9. Pick your spot to write. Gather all your reference books, your comfy chair, a table to hold your favorite drink, and anything else that helps the creative juices flow.
10. Don’t take it too seriously. If you don’t complete it in 30 days, so what? You got started, and that’s half the battle. Just keep pushing on to finish in your own time.
I think we can make every month a “30-day challenge”. We’re really competing against ourselves. Writer’s block, procrastination, no time, I’m no good; these are all excuses we make to ourselves for not pushing out of our comfort zone. It’s easy to psych yourself out of finishing anything or even starting. This is why I love NaNo. It can jump-start habits to carry on the other 11 months of the year.
Good luck to all those participating and for those still unsure, go for it. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can accomplish in just those 30 days.

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Will It Ever End?

So I’m trudging through my first draft of a novel I’ve been thinking about and planning for years. I’ve started it a couple of times but am determined this is the time. What I’m finding hard, is the fact that I expected it to be only about 50,000 words when finished. Just a nice size for a murder mystery I thought. The problem is, I’m at 95,000 words and still have several scenes left to complete. So I ask you all. Is this normal??? Am I just windy, and putting too much “sand in the sandbox.”
I’ve tried to write short fiction, flash fiction, even 100 wd contests. But I can’t seem to get my point or story across in this short of a format. I guess I’ve always been a “talker,” and love to share stories of past experiences, especially from working as an RN for years. I know that I need to be concise, and put down the best words to describe my scene and keep it tight. “Don’t waste words.” I’ve heard all the advice quotes, but my question is, how do I do that?
I know that when I edit and re-write I’ll probably get rid of about half of what I’ve written so far. That thought kills me since it’s been such a struggle to get words on the page in the first place. I own just about every writing book out there, just ask Amazon. But reading it is one thing while seeing an example seems to be what helps the most. I go back and read my favorite authors and try to see how they do what they do so well.  I guess I’m just feeling the slump of this draft taking forever to finish. Maybe I’ve lost my passion for it. Either way, I’m finishing this thing if it’s the last thing I do. Whether it’s junk or the next top-seller, it doesn’t matter. I will edit and re-edit until it’s the best I have to offer. Then I will have beta readers that will give me their real opinion, rather than my loving hubby, who thinks everything I write is brilliant. (Love you, Ralph) And when I’m satisfied that “this is it,” it’s CreateSpace here I come. I just want at least one book out there with my name on the cover. That’s my goal. So I guess it’s back to shoveling sand.

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Discipline is a choice.

So it’s that time again. National Novel Writing Month. This will be my second year participating. And so far, I’m still enjoying myself.

My last attempt was in 2014, which I “won” by completing the targeted 50,000 words. I was so excited and amazed that I had actually done it. I had written my very first, first draft. I waited for a week before starting to edit and began by printing out small parts at a time. I was trying to add numbers to my pages, which in hindsight was really not that important. And being the Open Office novice that I am, when it asked if I wanted to save my changes I said no. I had not liked the way the numbers were going, so I of course didn’t want to save it. Little did I know that you NEVER say you don’t want to save. Yep, I lost my entire draft, never to be retrieved. We tried everything, but since I had only saved it on a flash drive, it was lost.

I was devastated to say the least. I didn’t really write much for an entire year. I understood my mistake, and will never repeat it. My work now is backed up 5 times. No you won’t get this girl again. But the mistake did take a lot out of me. I felt in one way, that I had completed a first draft, and that maybe that was all my interest held. But I couldn’t get past the nagging feeling that I needed to start again.

I didn’t participate in NaNo last year. I’m not even sure now why, other than I was still reeling from the past loss. But this year I felt it was time. I have been writing a little bit in my spare time. Also writing an entire composition book full of poetry, about my life, my children, and whatever is on my mind at the time. And writing by hand, I believe, also fires up those brain cells of imagination. For that reason I still do all my outlines by hand. I’ve downloaded Scrivner but have yet to use it. It just seems right to do it by putting pen to paper.

This years NaNo project is the first novel I outlined nearly 6 yrs ago. This is the novel I feel I am supposed to write. My plan was to write a few others before this one, to sharpen my skills. I wanted to give my best to this one. But this year I’m tackling it in a mad flurry of 30 days before I change my mind. I need to, you see, because the nagging voices of my characters will simply not leave me alone. It’s like it’s April 14th and you haven’t done your taxes yet. it’s that annoying. So I’m putting it to paper, whether it will be my best work or not. That is what editing, and re-writes are for.

I guess my  question is, why is it so much easier to write everyday during NaNo when I haven’t been able to form that discipline any other time? I can’t wait to get started each day, and excitedly post my word count of the day on social media. Is it the comradery of knowing you are among thousands of others in the same goal of getting that first draft down on paper? Is it the accountability when you commit online and don’t want to admit to others that you’ve failed? Whatever it is, it is working. And for that I am grateful.

I now know that I can do it when I put my mind to it. That if I want this to be my new career or just my new hobby, that all I need to do is show up everyday and write. Write what I’m feeling. Write that latest project, or new poem. Or even just write a blog post. Just show up and do the work. After all, all you have to do to be called a writer is write. And for now, that’s exactly what I am.

 

 

 

 

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Poet and Didn’t Know It

So I’ve never been a fan of poetry: Tennyson, Byron, Blake, Shelton-nope, that’s not right.

I can’t spiel out prose like some Oxford educated Brit, like you see in the movies. And I never thought Shakespear lived up to the hype.

But, as I grow older, I find myself looking back at my life and experiences, and the therapeutic expresssion of it on paper, or in 1’s and 0’s as it seems, and surprisingly it comes out easier in poetry.

Now I’m no literary expert on poetry, or for grammar and punctuation either it would seem. I know there are different types of poetry and I still don’t have any idea what a haiku is. I guess I’m old fashion in that regard because to me ,the best poems have to rhyme.

But it turns out that just saying you’ve written a rhyming poem isn’t enough. There are, at least on one website, about 10 different types of “rhyming” poems. Who knew?

I’ve written several over the last year or so and been able to express both pain and joy. Surprisingly it has actually helped me express in words, hurts I’ve held inside for a lifetime. Things I could never put into words that made sense or adequately describe the pain that went with them. But to me it still flows better with rhymes.

Maybe I’m old school, or a rapper in a grandma suit. I’ve built up quite a selection and though I suffer from a genuine fear of ridicule and rejection, which has kept me from ever submitting anything other than a few blog posts, I will be posting my prose for all to see.

I know for all those authors that have multiple books and blogs, this may seem silly. But for me this is a big step. My fear of showing anyone my writing has been very real to me. Again, fear of rejection or being labeled “just not good enough”.

But I’m putting myself out there, baring my soul to the world. Or at least the maybe 3 people that follow my blog or Facebook page. Namely my family.

So though I present my future posts of poems, short stories and ideas, I do so in fear, as they will be forever out in cyberspace for all to see.

And if you must critique me, please be kind

My heat is very tender you will find

I will write it down and just see how it goes

Building up a thick skin just like all the pros

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Blame It On Mulder and Scully

I had such high hopes when I started this site. I was going to post twice a week while keeping up with my other site as well as Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr. I can admit now that I may have been a little bit of an over achiever with my expectations. After all, this is my first blog and I’d like to say at my age that’s a lot, except that I’m Madonna’s age and she’s killing it. And frankly making us grandma’s look bad out here.

No it isn’t anything noble like NaNoWriMo. I can’t even blame it on “writer’s block”. But it is an addiction and I have been bingeing. And my dealer has been Netflix.

As soon as I heard that The X-files was returning in January I thought it would be a great idea to catch up on the old seasons just for fun. It started out that way and quickly turned in to an obsession that I couldn’t control. I actually have tried to limit myself to a certain number of shows each night but who was I kidding. I’m the woman that can eat an entire carton of ice cream in one night by “pacing myself”. Tell that to my hips. Why I thought I’d be any better with this was just delusional. There have been nights I have been up until 4am watching while my patient husband put on my leopard print eye mask just to get some shut eye so he could get up at 9am for his business.

As I’m nearing the end I have to say it’s been great watching it again. Listening to the poetic prose of Mulder and Scully as they talk so eloquently about how funny life can be when you’re chasing an alien conspiracy or fighting off shape-shifting monsters really did inspire me. I didn’t pay much attention to it when I watched it nearly 22 years ago. Of course back then I merely loved to read books but never dreamed of ever writing them. Now I appreciate a great turn of phrase even if it’s in a commercial. I mean good writing is not easy, and should always be appreciated.

So as my season 9 runs down and after my period of mourning is over, which I go through whenever I say good-bye to characters I love, I know it will only be for a few weeks. I will be reunited once again with the greatest FBI partners of all time, at least for one season.

Then it’s time to ask myself some hard questions. If I can put all that time into watching 9 seasons of television everynight for weeks, why can’t I make myself write every night? Afterall, I dedicated over 200 hours of television time to just the X-files over the last month, not including all my other favorite show thrown in. That’s a lot of time when you think about it. I won’t say it’s lost time because everything you see, hear and feel goes into your writing. But if you’re looking at time spent alone, that would have been some major writing time. So why am I not doing it?

Maybe the answer was staring me right in the face the whole time. Perhaps, like Scully, I overthink things too much. Should I say it this way or is there a better word or phrase for that? Do I have enough detail without giving too much away? Am I following the rules of grammar close enough or is that even possible? How do I find my own voice without sounding like an amateur? Do I use the 3 act method? Am I rising tension without giving too much away too early? And on, and on, and on…..

Am I too, like Scully, letting fear keep me from just letting go and writing what I want, how I want, just to get it on paper. Am I so worried about the rules that it’s stifling any creativity I might have until I don’t want to even start. Am I so afraid of having others laugh at me or criticize my work that it’s just easier to not put myself out there at all?

I want to be like Mulder. I want to be that confident and self-assured in my ideas. He doesn’t care who laughs at him or thinks he’s crazy. He has no problem throwing out his ideas for all to ridicule and keeps on smiling. He believes in what he is doing and no one is going to stop him, no matter the cost. Granted, he suffers for those beliefs sometimes, but at least he sticks to them. Never compromising his mission. Because, say it with me, The Truth Is Out There.

So it’s time to get back at it. Setting daily writing times, or word counts, or whatever gets me back to writing. My slump is officially over. No more “writer’s block”. No more excuses. Either as an early Christmas present to myself, or an early-early New Year’s resolution: it’s time to get these stories written. And who knows. Maybe Netflix will want to make one of my stories into one of their Exclusive Productions. I’m mean, lets face it, they kinda owe me.

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Format Aside

cropped-il_570xN.766814934_sern.jpgHi and welcome. This is a blog to share the trials and errors along the way to publishing my first novel. I will be sharing some of my works in progress as well as some short stories and even some poetry I’ve written, (mostly when I’m up all night battling insomnia, so don’t judge). I will also be sharing some interesting articles by other authors I admire and find helpful.
Though I have written for years and even been plotting several novels as well, I have yet to publish.
Last year I participated in NaNoWriMo and completed my first novel but promptly deleted it one week later when hitting “yes” without thinking or reading the full prompt.
I have to admit, I’ve been wallowing ever since and have yet to re-write it.
I have spent the last twenty-five years working as an RN, much of which was spent in the ER. I have many colorful patients to choose from when trying to come up with characters.
I’ve never really had enough time to write when I was working, though I know that’s an excuse when I say that. Now, due to illness, I have “retired” and have all the time in the world and it isn’t any easier.
So this is me folks; inexperienced and insecure, but with a head full of characters I love and their stories that I’ve thought about and plotted for years.
I hope you join me and please leave comments, critiques and even constructive criticism, if given with kindness. Remember, everyone was a novice at one time.
I believe we can all improve by sharing tips and hints along the way.
Welcome again and I hope you enjoy. 🙂

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