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!

Getting Over My Writer’s Block

So I’ve had two novels in my head, treatment both of them bursting to come out and yet, approved none of them could actually get out on the page.

It was incredibly frustrating.

The first one was about a girl living in a baseball obsessed town. She grows up with the love of baseball, page until one day, something changes and baseball isn’t the same anymore. The novel was going to go back and forth between the present and the past, eventually ending at what happened, and why her love of the sport changed. I still want to do this, because I’m passionate about the story and passionate about the sport of baseball and its a story that I really want to tell, but it just wasn’t flowing the way I wanted it to.

Then I was also working on something that could best be described as a zombie novel but its not quite what you think. Its about a girl  named Katy, who is living in New York when a virus hits, and it wipes out huge chunks of the population before anyone can figure out what is. Then suddenly the bodies of all the victims disappear, and the world starts to panic. Before you know it, the bodies are reanimated, and they hunger for human flesh. But they aren’t like normal zombies: they’re incredibly fast and intelligent, and there are too many to get rid of. The government decides to bomb the major cities, to get rid of the problem once and for all and Katy goes on the run with her dad, and the only boy she’s ever loved and hated at the same time.

Two great ideas right there, if I say so myself.

But NOTHING was working. I’d get on my computer and just stare at the screen. I honestly couldn’t do anything. I would try typing things but it just wasn’t happening. I was incredibly frustrated. I didn’t even feel like it was writer’s block. It was all in my head but I couldn’t get it out on paper.

And two things have really helped me.

First off, I was at the Los Angeles Teen Book Fest last weekend, and that was SO helpful. Meeting all these authors and talking to them, and hearing their stories of writing and how they tackle writing. One thing that really stuck out to me was something that fantasy writer, Cornelia Funke said…she writes all her novels in notebooks! And that SO stood out to me. I used to write all my novels out in notebooks before I had my laptop and I thought, well, maybe I should give it a shot.

And let me tell you, it has totally worked!


I went out and bought a notebook and I’ve been writing my novel, the sort-of zombie novel, in it ever since, and I honestly can’t stop writing. I’m on a roll and it feels really good. After feeling like you’re failing in the world of writing for so long, it felt good to just write. I also took advice from the other authors at the event, and have just been writing, not really focused on structure or any of that yet. When I focus on that, I lose the story and I get all stressed out about whether my chapters are long enough and that sort of thing. When I’m in my notebook, I just write, and its been awesome.

Then last night, I got another spark of inspiration. I was at a concert for one of my favorite bands, Story of the Year, who I haven’t seen in concert in about 8 years. It was such an amazing show, and I’m all bruised up and sore and EXHAUSTED from it. But it was fun. I discovered a new band (to me) last night though, a band called Set It Off. And right before they played a song, the lead singer shared some awesomeness with us.


His name is Cody and he had a lot to share. He talked about how he dropped out of college to pursue music, and that people didn’t always believe in him, and they didn’t believe that he could do what he wanted with music but that he kept doing it anyway. He was encouraging everyone to follow their dreams, no matter what people said, and that even if you fail, at least you tried, you tried to accomplish something that was important to you.

Then they played this song: Dreamcatcher, which you can listen to on YouTube here.

Now, I’m not saying that you should drop out of college. I’m not saying you should go to college either. That’s kind of a person-to-person basis there and I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone what to do in regards to their education.

But I really appreciated that attitude, that idea that no matter how crazy it sounds, or what people tell you, you should try anyway. I focus most of my energy on this blog and on my novel, not school and not work. Because THIS is my passion and my dream. And sure, maybe I’m going to fail. Maybe I won’t accomplish anything at all, but this is what makes me happy and I’m going to keep trying.

So I thought it was cool that he basically pulled the sort of thoughts I’ve been having in my own mind and it really made me want to yell out loud. Like, YES! YES, EXACTLY. Pursue your dreams, and stop listening to what everyone else says. The only person that matters is yourself!

So that was super awesome too. That has given me a huge spark of motivation and inspiration as well, and I feel like I could just keep writing.

So the whole point of this post is to say: that when you’re feeling like you can’t write (or whatever it is that is YOUR thing), you just have to find that motivation and sometimes it can come from the most random of places. I’m grateful for the amazing things I’ve been able to do this year, and the motivation that I know have in me.

Now I gotta get back to writing BUT I’ll leave you with a nice little quote from the novel I’m working on now. No guarantee that this will make into the final novel, but hey, you can get an idea of what to expect in the future!


Happy Reading and Writing everyone!