After Action Report

NaNo 2014 winner badge

I DID IT!!!

I came, I wrote, I conquered! I met my goal of 70k words (I’d started out with 60k goal, but it quickly went up), I wrote the first draft of DC Files#3, one little short story, and almost two thirds of a new paranormal book.
Ah, there’s nothing like NaNoWriMo to get my butt in the chair. 😉

Another great thing that happened recently:
I’ve been nominated in Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Member’s Choice Awards for Best Military! Open Endings is in great company and I don’t expect to get far, but it’s still wonderful. 🙂
Here’s the link if you want to vote for Best Military (or any other category): M/M Romance Member’s Choice Awards

goodreads nomination

It’s December already and I can’t believe how many things happened this year (I’ll be blogging about it, for sure). It makes me hopeful for the next one!

NaNoWriMo Is Back!

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

Who’s excited? I AM!

I love NaNoWriMo! The whole experience, thousands of people working on their novels at the same time, the atmosphere filled with love of writing, commitment, excitement, and sometimes even some friendly competition if you’re into something like this.

I’m doing it for the third time in a row and I will do my best to make it my third win. Actually, I’m planning to take things further this year and shoot for 60k, not 50k. My Past Me is shaking her head in disbelief, but my Present Me is very excited for the challenge. I know I can write that much. I’ve never done it, but I know I can, it’s just a matter of, well, actually doing it. And if I make it, next year I will shoot even higher. Because NaNo is special. And it makes me want to do crazy things.
(I actually blame Beyond 50k part of the NaNo forum. People there are amazing for my motivation!)

Are any of you doing NaNo? What are you going to write? Please tell me in the comments!

And if you’d like to check out my NaNo Prep posts from last year, here are the links:
NaNo Prep #0: Why Bother?
NaNo Prep #1: Outline or Flatline
NaNo Prep #2: Organize Your Life Beyond Writing

Chances Taken – Looking Back at 2013

2013 is the year of so many changes in my life, it’s almost making me nervous in retrospect. And those were good changes! Scary, but good.

2013 is the year I’ve finally taken my writing – and the idea of making writing my career – seriously. Sure, I didn’t write nearly as much as I promised myself I would, but I still wrote a lot.

I have a half-finished manuscript from the summer that I intend to finish in January.

I participated in NaNoWriMo and wrote 50k in a month for the second year in a row. And – unlike last year – I didn’t just let it sit on my hard drive unfinished. I kept writing and finally finished the story, officially making it my first complete manuscript of that length.

I also, for the first time in my life, sent out my short story for submission. And it got accepted.

It got accepted.

I’m still so happy just thinking about it! This is my dream coming true. This is me accomplishing that dream.

I will write about it later on, when it becomes official, but for now I’m just happy I took the chance and did it. It makes me really hopeful for the future and for my goals for 2014.

But I will talk about that in another post. 🙂

NaNoWriMo Check-in Post, Part Three & Some Notes From the End

Aaaand we’re done! 🙂 Congrats to every NaNo participant! We survived another year.

  • The third part of the month was the biggest one for me, word count wise. I wrote almost half of my NaNo novel in those last ten days, ending finally at 50 272 words. The story is not done yet, but it’s close and I just need to add some things here and there to have the first draft complete. Wohoo!
  • Story wise, I like how it turned out, even if I know I have to change some things at the beginning, because I went off the original plan a little bit.
  • Easiest to write was sex, again, but also some funny cameos from the secondary characters. I love when dialogue just flows.
  • Hardest part? Well, I know I can write out of order if I decide to skip a scene, but damn, coming back from writing the happy ending to the times when the characters were at odds was not easy. 😉

I’m so happy I’m still excited about this story! Sure, I’m tired after this month, but I also want to keep going and have that first draft finished before I let it cool it off while I work on other things.

Some Notes From the Edge End

I’ve realized that if I’d have more time during this month – like I had in the last part of it – I could, potentially, write more than 50k a month. Which is, in a way, a revelation for me, because I remember thinking that 50k is a pipe dream just over a year ago.
Maybe I would need a second project to push me through, but this is definitely something to think about next year.
(I think I blame Beyond 50k part of the NaNo Forum for that idea, a little bit. These people are crazy in a fun and inspiring way.)

This year I also let myself have two or three days off when I didn’t write a single word. Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, it actually hurt me in the long run. I broke the pattern and it was more difficult to get on with things later on.

And, finally, something that I guess many of the participants are thinking when NaNo is done: making the time to write every day (or almost every day) doesn’t have to – and shouldn’t have to – end when November ends. Hopefully I will stick to it.

Congratulations to everyone, again!

NaNoWriMo Check-in Post, Part Two

Yeah, okay, the second part of the month didn’t go according to plan. I was supposed to write more. I didn’t. That’s a short version. The longer one is below.

-> word count wise: last night, at the end of November 20th, I was at a little over 26k. Yes, I am behind. I expected to be behind, because I had a bunch of important things to deal with, but I was hoping to be, well. Less behind? 😉 I have a lot of free time coming up, though, so I’m not that worried.

-> story wise: I skipped two scenes in the middle, because they were blocking me. I had no idea how to make them interesting, so I set them aside and wrote the next one. And now I’m moving forward again.

-> easiest to write: sex. I actually texted my friend today: “When in doubt, write porn.” 😉

-> hardest to write: these two scenes I mentioned earlier. I know I have to come back to them, because they need to be there, but I decided to skip them for now.

-> what I’m excited about: I’m getting to know my main characters more and more and I like them both. We will see how I’m going to feel when they start making trouble.

-> what I’m worried about: being behind on my word count. I know I can catch up in the next few days, I just want to do it as fast as I can.

That’s it from me. If you’re participating in NaNo, how are you doing? Better? Worse? Or maybe you’re done already?

NaNoWriMo Check-in Post

Remember, remember, it’s “WRITE IT” November!

Wow, one third of the month is gone already! I’ve decided to post a little summary of how those first ten days went for me. I encourage you to share how you’re doing in the comments bellow.

-> word count wise: I’m at ~16800 words, which is about where I’m supposed to be, statistically.

During the first weekend of November my best friend was visiting, so I didn’t write much. It meant that I was behind even before I really started. I wasn’t too worried, though – back in October I planned out my entire month with estimated word count, taking into account my work schedule and other engagements, for exactly that reason: not to spend my time and energy worrying.

! TIP ! Plan your own way. Statistics are one thing, but it’s your own schedule you need to care about the most. There’s nothing wrong with catching up later. And it’s definitely good to know just how much you need to write that specific day to catch up for the loss days.

-> story wise: I needed to make some changes in the outline (my guys weren’t willing to make nice too early), but other than that, I keep moving forward.

-> easiest to write: flashbacks. Those scenes were practically writing themselves. Apparently the teenage versions of my characters are easier to handle than their adult selves. Who knew. 😉

-> hardest to write: political subplot scene I haven’t planned enough for. But I got through it.

! TIP ! “Background of the Thing” isn’t really good enough point in the outline. Shocking, I know.

-> what I’m excited about: I’m engaged in the story now. The beginning was hard, but at some point I just suddenly felt connected to my characters and to what was going on.

-> what I’m worried about: some upcoming days I will have no time to write.

 

Okay, that’s it, I’m going back to writing my story, not writing about writing it. 😉

 

If you’re participating in NaNo, how are you doing? Good? Bad? “I’m going to throw it against the wall and then burn it” bad?

NaNoPrep #2: Organize Your Life Beyond Writing

November is never the best month for doing this. We have other commitments, work, school, some of us have long holiday weekends that are reserved for family and/or friends and usually cannot be spent writing.

November is not the best month for me this year either. My best friend is coming over for the long weekend at the beginning of the month and I have final certification process at my coaching school for the four days in the middle of it.

On the other hand, I would probably find every month to not be good enough if I was given a choice. But since I can’t argue with the time, I have to make it work despite of the difficulties.

So, what can help?

1) Scheduling

  • Put your writing time into your calendar, write it down as an appointment, and protect that date as if you would if you were going to the doctor.
  • Plan for the whole month — you can break it down into daily or weekly goals (I prefer weekly, because I have an inconsistent work schedule and it gives me time to catch up), but make a plan. Seeing how four days of not writing at all may leave you way behind on your wordcount can be a cold shower and additional motivation to not skip any day you don’t have to skip.
  • Schedule for the off days, because they will happen.

2) Take care of your people

  • Explain to them how important it is for you.
  • Make sure to spoil them a little before November. 😉
  • Make time for your closest people anyway — you can’t tell your kids and partner that you won’t give them any time.
  • Schedule that time as well if you have to.

3) Be good to yourself

  • Eat good food. It’s great to eat your favorite junk food every once in a while, especially when you’re too busy to cook or microwave, but you have to survive to the end of the month. Eat good food.
  • Challenging yourself is one thing, but hurting yourself is another. Give yourself a break when you don’t have energy to even sit, not to mention write.
  • Reward yourself — whenever you achieve a milestone, give yourself a prize. Whether it’s for reaching certain wordcount (5k, 10k, etc.) or for catching up with the wordcount you were supposed to be at, give yourself a prize. If you are one of those crazy impressive people who write 50k in a weekend or something like that, you should definitely reward yourself, too.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just do whatever you can to make it easier on yourself. It’s supposed to be fun, after all. 🙂

NaNoPrep #1: Outline or Flatline

Ever since I’d started to write longer stories – for a long time I was saying I can’t write things longer than 1000 words – I knew I was a plotter. I needed an outline.

Partially as a security blanket. I needed something to make me believe I can do this. When I’d signed up for my first BigBang (fandom challenge where you have to write a story with a minimum 20k wordcount), the longest story I wrote up to that point was around 4k. Writing a story five times longer than that seemed almost like an impossible challenge. An outline was one of the few things that helped me believe I can manage it (and I did!).

My outlining process is… hardly a process. 😉 I usually try to figure out the main things first and then fill out the rest. I don’t have to have every scene planned (I end up with a few “?” or “add something here” every time) and it’s usually pretty general, like “The first official date” or “Here comes the fight”. Sometimes it gets me in trouble when I stare at the blank screen and wonder how that first date should go, but in most cases I have something in mind already.

Planning restricts my whining that “I don’t know what to dooooo” to a minimum.

I also know that I write short scenes, so if I have a specific wordcount in mind, I need to plan for so many scenes.

And there’s one more thing: sometimes, staring at the half-filled outline, I get a sudden epiphany, something falls into place or I see the bigger picture, a theme I couldn’t see when I was thinking about specifics.

Something like this happened to me last night when I was outlining my NaNo, and suddenly I’m much more excited about this story. I don’t have a finished outline yet, but I have a purpose to it now. And it feels good.

 

If you write, do you outline? How do you do that?

NaNo Prep #0: Why Bother?

The clock is ticking for everyone who plans to participate in NaNoWriMo*. November is just around the corner and I can feel excitement building up. 🙂 I still need to write an outline for my story, do some research, and brainstorm with my friends, but I’m slowly moving towards the starting line.

Why bother, you could ask. Why spend the whole month trying to squeeze writing in between every other activity, why not just forget about this challenge and write at my own speed?

Four reasons:

1) It’s a kick in the ass.

Sit down and write. Or stand in line and write, commute and write, sleep and write

Write every moment you can. And a few you can’t.

2) It’s empowering!

My last year’s NaNo story was the longest thing I had ever written up to date and let me tell you, IT FELT GREAT to cross that finish line. It was my first try and there were times when I doubted I could do it. But I proved myself that I can. It’s something I’m proud of. Not surprising I’m back for another round, right?

3) Community

Some of us are lucky enough to have writing support system twelve months out of the year, but even then we’re not always on the same page – I procrastinate when someone else blazes through their epic story, and while I’m pulling my hair out over my character’s stupid choices, my friend spends her weekend reblogging photos of Aaron Tveit on Tumblr.

During November, though? Everyone is writing (between bursts of procrastination on Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc., etc.). You can share your success, struggle, wordcount, headcount, whatever you want. And whenever you do, someone will always be there, going through the same thing at the same time.

Bonus: during November you get another platform to procrastinate on: NaNo forum.

4) It requires commitment.

Deadlines fuel me. Fixed, announced in public deadlines are like law.

There’s a reason why, when I decided to try writing a longer story for the first time, I signed up for the bigbang challenge**, and that reason is additional motivation. And believe me, there were days when that was the only motivation that worked.

I wish I was a writer who regularly writes a lot regardless of the calendar or whether or not there’s a challenge involved. But since I’m not (or, better: until I’m not), I use what works.

And NaNo definitely works. 🙂

So, those are my reasons. Have you ever tried NaNo? Do you plan on doing it this year?

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* NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month, a challenge where you have to write 50k words during the month of November. You can read more about it here: www.nanowrimo.org

** BigBang challenge – a fandom challenge where you have to write a complete story (20k words minimum) and collaborate with an artist who creates an artwork for it. There’s a specific time restriction involved, usually the writing part lasts around three months or so. Some rules vary depending on the fandom.