Hey gang, and welcome to the first post for 2017!
I can’t believe 2016 is over, and so much happened. Not just to the world, but to me personally. I always forgot how long and short 365 days can feel sometimes and what can be accomplished in that time.
I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, not knowing what to expect or where it would take me. All I knew is that I wanted to start my first novel. It seemed like a simple goal with dozens of tasks attached to it.
Writings seems easy and difficult at the same time. On one hand, every celebrity and their brother seems to be writing a book, and on the other hand, I know of no one personally who has written a book.
Ok, that’s a lie I know one person and her name is Tyler. Go check her out.
Point is, it isn’t easy. In mid-November, I outlined how my process has gone so far on Weeks 1 through 3 so now it’s time to sum up Week 4 and recap.
Week 4 – Kill Me Now Please and Return to Glory
Week 4 was no joke and it was almost the point where I lost all hope and gave up. Writing the novel itself takes dedication, but my bipolar rears its head at inopportune times and I feel like sleeping for the next three days.
Weeknights are the most challenging. I started a new job on November 1, and while I’ve worked in law for almost four years, it was a different area and a whole new ballgame. I came home mentally drained each day just to gear up for the big battle scene between Samantha, my protagonist, and Maxine, my antagonist.
I didn’t write for four days. I didn’t journal what happened, but I took the time to recoup and take care of myself. If I don’t take that kind of time, then I can get hysterical and ain’t nobody got time for that. I thought I would have more time during Thanksgiving, but I enjoyed time with my family, cleaned, and cooked my small dinner of healthy dishes. Not that it really helped because I still had to buy a larger pair of pants to wear.
Anyway, then it happened. On November 27, 2016, I knuckled down and wrote 8,105 words. My husband says that when I’m determined to do something, I get it done. Despite almost taking the whole work week off from writing, I was only behind the NaNo daily word count by about 2,000 words. I participated in all the Twitter word sprints I could that day, but despite my hard work, Gryffindor would not win the House Cup.
Coming off of the best word count I’ve had in my entire life, I kept up the pace and finished NaNoWriMo with a total of 50,021 words written. I’m a first-time NaNo winner, guys!
The Now What? Months
Samantha Darkened is mostly done, but I’m still 20,000 words short of my goal. After rethinking some things, there are more scenes I want to add that I think will help the plot and character development. My goal is to finish the book – well, the amazingly rough-rough draft – by January 31.
I’ve enjoyed taking the time off to write some blog posts and entertain thoughts of starting my own YouTube channel. Also, I’ve started reading more which helps me to keep going creatively because I can see what works and what doesn’t work for me as a reader.
I don’t want to rush the book, but once I’m done with the story, I’ll start setting deadlines for myself to edit and get ready for beta-readers. As with preparing my outline, I’ll have to do some research regarding editing, but I’ve met so many great people so far that I know can help. My brother, an ace editor by the way, already wants to beta-read and I’m doing the same for him.
Writing may be a solitary endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m learning so much from other writers whether they be published, unpublished, brand-new, or seasoned.
After completing NaNo, I still stand by what I said in Why I Love the Idea of NaNoWriMo. I believe this process has helped me get the words onto the page, and once I have something to work with, I can shape it into my own creation.
What Did I Learn?
Unfortunately, I didn’t do any of the cool NaNo events held here in the Twin Cities, which bums me out. I finally live in a large enough city where there are actual events to attend and I chickened out. But, that’s more than ok. Besides the discovery that I am a Twin City NaNo No-Show here are some things I learned about me as a writer:
- I like to write in the evening and on weekends. I am definitely not a member of the 5am Writer’s Club. My mind doesn’t work that early in the morning which is why I wake up that early to workout. If my mind realized what I was doing at 5am, it would stop me.
- I like to write in sprints. Ideally, anywhere between 15-20 minute intervals, but during the Twitter sprints, I enjoyed the occasional 1k30min – write 1,000 words during 30 minutes. I never managed more than 700 words, but I had fun trying. After a sprint is over, I get up from my desk and walk around, play with the cats, bother my husband, etc.
- I need an office. My computer desk is in the middle of the living room where are the electronic fun things are located. While I wrote my 8,105 words at my desk, I felt my most productive day was the weekend my niece was gone and I used her room as a remote location. I shut the door and only came out at the end of word sprints. I don’t write well completely secluded – you’ll see why when I write my upcoming post about my NaNo retreat – but I need a little piece and quiet. It would be rad if I could use the basement as an office, but that would take some convincing on the part of my family.
- Outlining helped. BIG time. I don’t know what I would have done without an outline, but I bet you a thousand dollars I would have painted myself in a plot hole corner. That’s what happened with my first short story and I’m still wrestling with the unfinished project. I’m glad I signed up in September and outlined in October. If and when I do NaNo again, it will be a sequel to Samantha Darkened and I plan to follow the same brainstorming formula.
If you participated in NaNo, how did it go? What did you learn? Do you want to participate this year? Comment below or email email@example.com! Also, sign up for the newsletter here for monthly recaps and news.
Don’t forget, Cotton’s Corner is coming to YouTube! Watch out Friday, January 6, 2016, for the first video.