Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

All Hallows’ Eve…of NaNoWriMo

Today, people will dress up in all kinds of costumes and go to parties and/or get free candy.  But writers…

Well, writers embarking on the adventure known as NaNoWriMo will eye the clock, fingers will be poised over keyboards or over a well-loved notebook, waiting –

Waiting for that month that embodies both a writer’s sprint and marathon – National Novel Writing Month, where writers will try to pen, type, or scrawl out 50,000 words in one month.

Crazy, you say?  Well, maybe.

Ill-advised?  Probably, considering it’s also the start of the holiday season.

Impossible?  Well, that’s where you’d be wrong.  Because every November, countless writers finish first drafts of novels this month.  So if you’re a writer, or a reader, this month can be pretty magical too.

And even though it’s very ill-advised, well considering I work full-time and am in graduate school, I’m going to through my pen into the ring as well.  Fun fact, while I’ve never actually won NaNoWriMo, I have used to to start, finish, and revise my novels.  But this year, I’m going to try to do the whole thing.  Because, hey, all those other years wee just practice. 😉

Happy Halloween, all and happy eve of NaNoWriMo, writers. 🙂




NaNoWriMo and nap plotting

National Novel Writing Month & The Importance of nap plotting

Alas, I’ve been a bad blogger over the last few weeks. 😦  Life got busy, as it tends to do, but, like the prodigal daughter, I have returned.  So, let’s slaughter the fatted calf or NaNoWriMo word counts, if we can manage it…

I don’t know about you, but I like to have a loose idea about my scenes or chapters before I write them.  I’m not a hard-core outliner, though sometimes if  I have a full story idea in my mind, I will jot down notes for future scenes (out of fear of forgetfulness).

But, I am a fan of what I call visualizations…also known as nap plotting.

imageHear me out, this isn’t just an excuse to nap – well, maybe a little. 🙂

When I get to a difficult bit in a story (patch of dialogue, a character stuck somewhere, or a scene not flowing), I find it helpful to visualize what will happen next. And really, you can’t properly visualize without closing your eyes.

…and since visualizations take a while, shouldn’t your neck also be supported and your head comfortable?

….and it is November, so clearly snuggling into that blanket can only help the situation.  🙂

Most of the time after my nap-plotting, I know what my characters should do next.  Of course, there are times when I wake up without a clue of what should happen next.  But hey, a nap can never really be counted as a loss.  Besides, maybe my writer brain just needed to turn off before coming up with my next idea.  Speaking of which, I need to “visualize” the next part of the my novel and hopefully I won’t drool too much on my notebook the time…. 😉

Happy November and happy novel writing, writers!  May your pens be mighty and your plots be strong! 🙂

NaNoWriMo is coming…

National Novel Writing Month (in November, in case you didn’t know) is right around the corner…are you ready for it?

….am I?

hmmm.  I’m not as ready as I’d like to be, but I do have a few writing ideas that I’ve been thinking about.  Essentially, my internal debate comes down to two choices.  Should I go for:

1) cute, funny, romantic comedy – I wrote one of these last time and had a blast…I also still have to edit the first  draft, but that’s an issue for another day.  Clearly, November isn’t National Edit Your Crap month…not sure when that month would be, but I’m sure it would be awful.  :p

2) dark thriller/mystery/romance – hmmmm.  Now, these conceptual ideas are fun and interesting.  However, in practice….for me, it’s been hard to keep the dark mood throughout the novel.  I always feel the need to have a character crack a silly joke in the middle and it ruins the whole brooding mood.  Maybe this time, I’ll try for a dark-ish comedy?  We’ll see, I still have quite a number of days before NaNoWriMo.  And so do you. 😉


In the meantime, I’ll leave you with quotes by writers, to get you in the mood for those intense 30 days (why couldn’t they pick a month with 31?!) known as National Novel Writing month:

– “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

– “There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

– “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King

– “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

NaNoWriMo-ers – Don’t stop writing!

And so, we’ve come to the end of NaNoWriMo and many of us optimistic writers have failed at the goal to write 50,000 words in one month.  😦  Boo, hiss.

Let’s face it, statistically and realistically, a large portion of us were not going to get to that glittering goal of 50,000 words.

“But why?” We all moan.

Because writing is hard, writing is a process, and often, writing requires more than a month’s commitment.  And that’s okay.  It’s completely acceptable not to have completed your goal this month.  The most important takeaway from NaNoWriMo is that you wrote passionately for one month.  Maybe you have an excellent start to your new novel.  Maybe you added meat to the skeletal outline that you created last month.  And maybe, you are one of the few lucky ones that have actually finished a novel this month.

But whatever your accomplishments were this month, don’t stop writing.  Carve out a little bit of time when/where you can to continue to practice your craft and tend to your muses,  that is the most important thing a writer can do for her/himself.

…and you should also make up for all that time  you’ve been missing out on with the regular people in your life.  Because, you know, interactions and relationships are important.  🙂


NaNoWriMo – Hitting the wall

Writer’s BlockHitting the wall

We’ve just passed the halfway point of NaNoWriMo and if you’re anything like me, you’ve hit a wall (or several) in your quest to write a novel.  Writer’s block happens to everyone and the constraints of NaNoWriMo are there to try to pull you through the worst of your funk.  Though right now, it feels like they’re hog-tying me (and not the fun kind in BDSM novels either).

So, here are some of the tricks that I’ve employed to knock down my walls:

1.  Sleep on it – When I know how I want a scene to go down, but don’t have a detailed map, I’ll close my eyes and try to imagine my characters.  Often, I fall asleep and dream my way through a hard scene.  Sometimes, I wake up with no ideas but am well rested enough to push myself to write through a scene.  Other times, I wake up with nothing to show but drool on my pillow and visions of stranded characters dancing in my head.

2.  Veg out in front of the TV – Okay, I know there are a lot of TV-haters out there and I’m sure most of us watch too much of it.  But there is something to be said for the magical glowing light of the TV and it might serve as inspiration for a new piece – after all, the author of the “Hunger Games” credits the idea to a night of channel surfing.

3.  Human interaction (some participation required :p ) – Hanging out with friends is a great way to unwind, recharge, and sometimes, talk through plot flaws.  If you’re more of the strong/silent type, going out to the store, cafe, bar, or gym will expose you to a wealth of characters and interesting bits of dialogue.  Eavesdropping (oh, you know you already do it), can help you get better at writing tricky bits of dialogue or just be entertaining as hell.  (I know, it’s a little naughty.  But honestly, don’t air out your dirty laundry if you don’t want the rest of us to sniff it.)

4.  Go outside (or at least look out there) – Sitting inside and wasting away in front of various electronic devices is making you look like zombie.  There are living things outside, seeing them might wake your brain up.

5.  Do something physical (yes, even that counts) – Go for a walk, run a mile, dance, or whatever.  Getting your heart rate up and your body focused on physical activity can make your brain start firing in new and interesting ways.  Sometimes, I come up with good bits of dialogue while running (although, you should know, I am a terrible runner).

6.  Clean something – If you’ve been participating in a writing marathon, you’ve probably been ignoring other chores to buy some time, like cleaning the bathroom, the floor, your room, or yourself.  You should probably clean those things while you’re thinking about the next scene, especially if you plan on having guests over for Thanksgiving.

7.  Cook something – Maybe you’re just hungry.  My family is part Italian and if I’ve learned anything from Grandma, it’s that you should eat something.  Extra points if you can fit it into your novel.

8.  Read something – All writers begin as readers and should continue to read throughout their endeavors.  If you’ve been writing a lot, are in a rut, and have been neglecting your reading, pick up a book to rediscover the joy of losing yourself in a story.  Escaping into a novel may help to jump-start your own imagination, or at the very least, remind you how magical and important it is to write a good story.

What do you do to get past writer’s block?

NaNoWriMo – Keeping motivation with a writer’s group

Keeping motivation with a writer’s group

Before last year, I had a history of starting novels, writing intensely for awhile, and then, allowing a road block in my novel to derail the entire story.  For all of these projects, I would start off loving my story idea and after a few months of struggling, I would begin to hate the story.  Then my inner critic would take hold – “that would never happen,” I’d lecture my plot twist.  Or I’d write my heroine into a corner.  Facing mounting problems with my stories, I would eventually give up on them and stop writing for long stretches of time.

Last year, I joined a group of writers to get through NaNoWriMo.  We had different interests and wrote under different genres, but even so – our little group worked well together.  When NaNoWriMo ended, most of us were hooked and continued to meet every Sunday.  Setting aside a time to write every week – and having a group of people expecting me to show up – helped me finish the first draft of my first novel and start a second novel.

There are a lot of people who make up our circles (friends, family, co-workers, random people you see every day).  Not all of these people get the “whole writing thing.”  Some nod their heads with glazed eyes when you talk about your novel ideas.  Some support you and offer to read your finished stuff.  Then there are other writers – the special folk that not only believe that you can write a book, they understand what it takes to get there – can talk you through your worst plot flaws, lackluster characters, and push you through all that lingering self-doubt.

During NaNoWriMo, don’t be afraid to reach out and join a writing group or go to one of NaNoWriMo’s write-ins – they may help you get over the dreaded mid-November blues (when you question your talent and your sanity) and give you the final push when you’re in the home stretch.

Good luck writers, ten days down and still writing! Hope you are too.  🙂

NaNoWriMo – humble writer struggling against the numbers

I don’t know about you, but my writing pace is slow.  Now, I can run my mouth off discussing topics on nearly anything, but sit me down to write a novel (outlined or not) and my pace becomes glacial.


Even when I know where I want to go, can see my character frolicking around in my mind, it still takes forever.  During NaNoWriMo, the total goal word count is 50,000, which makes the daily word count around 1,666 – does anyone else wonder if the triple 6’s allude to demonic writing possession this month?


No?  Hmm, maybe I’ve been writing too much today.

It’s the number of words a day, demonic or not, that always messes with my head.  Call it performance anxiety (can’t keep my pen up), but logging in X number of words a day is always a struggle for me.

But, a huge part of writing is the struggle – not only of characters, but of the writer too.  That’s why, if  you share the idea of NaNoWriMo with people in your circle, you’re sure to find at least one person who will tell you that they too have an idea for a novel, if only they could get it down on paper.  I think that there is at least one novel in all of us – the trick is to pull it out and put it on paper.

The daily word count (the triple 6’s do go away if you round up to 1,667 words a day) is ultimately your friend in this process.  The struggle to meet it every day and continue on (even when your story gets a little silly, or a little slow) is what will help you finally finish that story that has been rattling around in your brain.

So NaNoWriMo-ers, did you struggle today?  I sure as hell did…

Do you NaNoWriMo?

For years now, I have been fighting a battle of wills and words for the marathon known as NaNoWriMo – or National Novel Writing Month, for those of you that some how have escaped the many blog posts or articles about this sacred month.  In this month of November (why couldn’t it have been a month with 31 days, I could use one more day), many will struggle to write a first draft of a novel – 50,000 words.

I will not be one of them.  Instead of using the month of November to start a novel, I will use it as a push to finish my novel.  In all of my years of doing NaNoWriMo, I have never “completed” the challenge.  I’ve blamed this on a lot of things – my glacial writing pace, my need to think through scenes before writing them, getting through the dreaded in-between or set up scenes, and of course, second guessing whatever I put down on paper.  While all of those things can make writing difficult, most of the time I’m not able to get to 50,000 words because I let life get in the way or let the number get to my head.

But, I think that misses the whole point of NaNoWriMo – setting a whole month aside to write something every day and to make an effort to do something that many are not able to do – finish something.

I used to think that having a talent meant that you could be good at something without really trying.  While that might be true for the blessed few, most of us have to struggle through plot problems, characters that surprise you, the need to edit before you finish, and self-doubt.  But it’s the struggle that makes it all worthwhile and the reason that you can be proud of anything that you write this month – whether it be 50,000 words or far less.

Good luck, fellow writers – may your pens be swift and your plots strong.  🙂