NaNoWriMo-My Experience

Tomorrow is the last day of NaNoWriMo! How did you do everyone?

If there is one thing I learned from this month, cost its that, this whether you met your goal or not, you are still a winner in my book. Writing a novel is NOT an easy task, and honestly, not everyone is made for it. So merely taking on this task makes you winner.

And if you wrote! If you wrote at all, that makes you a winner. Whether you wrote a thousand words, or all fifty thousand to meet the goal of NaNoWriMo, you are a winner! Seriously! Getting the words down on paper is the hardest part. Once you have words down, you can go back and change them or make them better or any of that.

This is definitely something I’ve learned from NaNo. I started off with a goal of 20,000 words. Once I had typed up all the writing I had done in a notebook (thanks for the advice, Cornelia Funke!), I realized I was already at 14K, and I only had 6 to write for the entire month. I knew I would be busy with blogging and school work and that sort of thing, but not that busy. So I switched my goal to 35K, which would still bring me at 20 for the entire month.

As of right this moment (and I still need to write today and tomorrow), I’m at 59,515, which brings me almost 25K over my goal AND brings me nearly to the goal of NaNo in the first place. You’re supposed to write 50K in the month of November and I’ve written 45K. And again, I still have to write today and tomorrow! So I’m confident that I am going to reach it.

Its funny, when I started my journey into the world of NaNo, I thought writing an entire 50K novel in one month was a crazy endeavor. I still think it is. I don’t think writing an ENTIRE novel in one month is the best idea. But I do love the idea of pushing yourself, and getting those words down on paper. I accomplished so much writing this month, so much more than I would have if I hadn’t pushed myself.

So here are the things I learned and gained from NaNoWriMo 2013.

Setting Goals = Great Motivation 

Seriously. Goals are amazing. For me, setting a goal, whether large or small, really holds you accountable. It also helps when you TELL people that you’ve set this goal because they can hold you accountable as well. But more on other people later. I hold myself accountable. I set a goal for the month and I hate not meeting my goals. I told myself that I would write at least 1K a day, and I told my writing friends and my boyfriend and they would hold me to that, definitely.

The way I see it is…my ultimate goal, and probably yours too, is to become a published author. And a published author is a JOB, its a career. You sign contracts, and produce books, and you need to treat it like a job. And its never too early to start doing that. By telling yourself that you need to write every day, no matter if you have “inspiration” or not, you’re being productive and you’re getting work done and you’re acting like a real author.

Writing Crappy Really IS Okay

No, really! Its going to be okay! I know that not all 59, 515 words that I’ve written so far are good. I know I will have to go back and fix things, move things around, and that kind of thing. I know that there are inconsistencies and there are some things that I need to more thoroughly research. There is a lot that is going to make it better. I realize that.

But by recognizing that and just writing, again, I got so much more done. You can’t fix a blank page, and I’ve written so much that a blank page is laughable. Once I really started to recognize that, yes, Sara, some of this is going to really suck, I just started writing. I have it down on paper. And I’m proud of it all, even if all of it isn’t that good. Because my novel has a skeleton now, it has a little bit of flesh and all that, but it can be better. But I have that skeleton to work on. And that’s great.

My Novel Changed Before My Eyes

It did! I was surprised at the changes I made while writing, and the surprises that met me around some of the corners. See, normally, I don’t force myself to write like this. It took me two years to write Another Chance for Summer and a year to write A Little Less than Famous. I’ve only been writing The Reawakened for about a couple months, and I’ve written SO much, and I’ve learned so much about it, while working so hard on it this month.

One, we came up with a title, The Reawakened. The title comes from one of my followers, Amber Harvey, and she won a personalized, sign copy of Legend by Marie Lu. So thank you for that, Amber! I’m right awful at coming up with titles so I’m glad I can make you guys do it!

Two, I introduced a character that is going to be incredibly important later on. I would have never expected that, at all, but I introduced them, in a small scene and realized…oh they are important. They are incredibly important and I know just to do with them…

Which leads to me to three…The Reawakened is NOT a standalone novel like I had intended. It is definitely a two part. I’ve already started thinking and outlining the second novel, since it helps with the first, AND I have a title for it as well. I’m very proud of that. I’ve decided to end The Reawakened so that it is either an ambiguous ending or a nasty cliffhanger, so that no matter what happens in its publishing future, it’ll be okay. But I was very surprised when I figured out that…yeah, I’m not done.

And that’s where four comes in…I’m at nearly 60K. I was aiming for a 75-80K novel, which leaves me only 15 to 20 K left to write. But I have SO much more that needs to happen in the story so I’m not sure how that’s going to work. I found that this is going to be a much larger novel than I had originally intended but I’m okay with that. Maybe it’ll end up right where its supposed to be once I’ve done edits and such but for now, its probably going to be closer to 90-100K.

The 15 Beat System is Gold 

I have to give some major props and thanks to Jessica Brody, who introduced me to the 15 Beat system. The 15 beat comes from the book, Save the Cat, which is a book on screen writing. However, you can adapt it to a novel as well. Its less specific than an actual plot outline, and for that, I love it.

I find that when I write an entire plot outline, I end up being so bored with my novel because I KNOW what’s going to happen each and every second of the way and its just boring. I’m just not a fan of it. I ditched my new adult/baseball/romance novel because I completely outlined it and I was SO bored. I may go back to it, because I really want to, but for now, just ugh.

With the 15 beat system, there are 15 beats, or plot points, you must hit to create a successful episode. Like I said, it works wonderfully with a novel. Instead of a fully specific plot outline, you have these 15 beats you have to hit throughout the story and it helps you as you write. I don’t know what will happen between each one, and its fun trying to get to each one. It really is. Its the most beautiful way to outline your story ever. Really it is.

Ditto the Book Bible

Make one. Seriously. It helps SO much, especially those of you who may be like me and are really bad with consistencies.

Check out my post on it here.

Have a Group of Supporters

For so long, I kept myself distanced from other writers because of so many reasons. There were two main reasons though: I am a competitive person and I didn’t want to have to compete face to face with someone. And I also didn’t want to  constantly have to measure myself up to people. I was SO lacking of confidence in my own writing that anyone else’s writing was always infinitely better than mine.

But I have learned that this is SO wrong. I’ve surrounded myself with fellow writers and we’ve supported each other so much this month, and we’re going to continue to support each other as we continue past NaNoWriMo. I created a Nano Support Group on FB and now converted the group to an Aspiring Authors Support Group. If you’re interested, you should definitely join.

Its also incredibly helpful to have people in your life who believe in you and support you. I really realized (again) how lucky I am to have such a creative and passionate boyfriend. We spend so much time together, not even talking, but its okay. Jon will be working on his music, and I’ll be on my computer, typing away. Its wonderful! We really support each other. I don’t know how many boyfriends would understand my desire to be on the computer for hours on end, but he does, and it helps me in my journey to finish my novel.

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NaNoWriMo has been an exciting and productive journey for me, one where I learned a lot about myself as a writer, writing in general and a lot about my novel as well. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished this month and what I hope to accomplish in the future.

For now, I have to do some last minute writing for today and tomorrow so I’m going to get to that!

Also, come back tomorrow for an exclusive excerpt from The Reawakened!

You don’t want to miss out on that!

Happy Writing!

NaNoWriMo: Where I Write

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo!

As you guys may know, try I’m taking a slightly different approach to the official month. Instead of writing a full 50K novel, hospital I’ll be working to reach 20K words on my 80K novel. Throughout the month, page I’ll be focusing on reaching my personal goal, and focusing on making the best novel that I can make. I’ll be talking about writing advice, and you’ll get to know my characters and my story over the course of the month.

To read about the NaNoWriMo: What A Nerd Girl Says Version, click this link.

My dear contributor, Christina Marie, is also participating but in the full challenge. She’ll be a little absent this month, but you can check her out on her own blog, where she’ll be writing as often as she can, and will probably be posting updates of her own journey during this month.

Now today’s post, as I embark on this journey, I will be doing various posts through out the month. Today is day one. Which means its time to jump in. No wading in, I gotta jump in.

I’ve already written some, which I *will* be counting towards my goal of 20K, and now I’m ready to dive in. I have all that I need!

So today I’m talking about where I write, and what I need to write.

photo 1

This is where I write: on my Macbook, on my TV tray in my room. I wish I had a desk but the living situation I’m in doesn’t provide for that. I write in Microsoft Office, though I HAVE been contemplating using Scrivener. For now though, this is where I write! My goal is to have a desk one day, where I can stare at a blank wall OR stare at my writing advice poster.

photo 2

These are my notebooks. The brown and teal one is what I write in when I need to take a break from the computer. Sometimes I get on the computer and I get distracted by Facebook or Tumblr or writing for the blog, or just talking to all of you guys! I love doing all of that BUT sometimes I need to just and write and not focus on anything else, so that’s when the notebook comes in.

Its also a good place for me to take down notes, to remind myself later of an idea that has suddenly come to me. I also write snippets there too, like if the scene I’m working on isn’t going well, I’ll work on another scene. It usually helps me a lot and maybe answers questions about what is going on in previous scenes. So that’s what the scene is for.

The blue notebook is my Book Bible, which incidentally, is absolutely empty right now. The novel that I’m working on right now is a sort of urban sci-fi (or as Jessica Brody calls it “sci-fi lite” or “softcore sci-fi”-both of which cracked me up). I’ve only ever done contemporary because its so much easier to keep track of, while writing. With a sci-fi, things start to get confusing! Jessica Brody talked about creating a Story Bible, which is something they use in TV shows, to sort of keep track of characters and plot, the world, etc. I’ll have more on this when I do a post on Story Bibles on the 8th. Hopefully I will have more of it done by the end, and I can share more!

photo 4 photo 5

I can’t STAND to have quiet when I’m writing. Most writers, it seems, need quiet when they are writing, probably in order to concentrate on what they are doing. I swear, I can’t do that. I can’t do quiet. If you’ve ever read Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen, one of the main characters, Owen says “Silence is so loud.” For me, that’s true. Silence is distracting to me, and I don’t like it. So I always either have music playing, or a TV show/movie in the background.

When I listen to music, I tend to things that sort of put me in the mood for that scene. I’ve just really started doing the whole “novel playlists” or “character playlists” but I’m liking it. By distinguishing different songs for characters, I feel more in connect with them. The song above is for Katy, my main character. She has more emo, thrashing, hardcore, type of music and when you meet her, you’ll know why. Other characters will have different music, but I will be sharing that on the 20th, so stay tuned to that.

I also like watching TV shows or movies. I never watch anything new while I’m doing it, because that is incredibly distracting. I like to watch something I’m already familiar with. I don’t necessary have to pay attention and its a nice background noise. I need me some background noise.

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I NEED water when I write. Most people are all “coffee, coffee, coffee” but not me. I kind of have a low tolerance for caffeine, especially coffee. If I have coffee, I can feel my heart speed up, and I am all shaky and I get all wired, and then I come crashing down. Maybe if I built up a tolerance/addiction to coffee, it’d be different. As it is, I need water. I always have a water bottle (or two, or three) with me while I’m writing, and often times, at least four empties too.

I also usually have a snack too. I don’t have one right now, which is probably why I’m a little cranky. I need to get a snack before I dive into actual writing. I’ve heard of some authors rewarding themselves with chocolate when they reach a certain amount of words, but I just dive in. I am like, hmm, this bag of Hershey’s kisses is a brilliant idea to get the writing juices going.

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So now that I’m all set up for writing, its time to dive in. Well, I need to track down a snack (actually, probably a full meal since I am so rumbly in my tumbly), but then I’m ready to jump in.

I wish you all luck in NaNoWriMo and with your own writing. I hope you all reach your goals. Remember, we’re all here for each other, so don’t hesitate to email me, or FB me or Tweet at me, if you’re feeling down or need some help! Its going to be a journey this month!

Where do you write? How do you write? Do you need snacks or anything like I do? Share in the comments below!