NaNoWriMo Wrap

When last we heard from our stalwart NaNoWriMo adventurers, their November writing marathon had  just begun. Did they finish?

You can see how I fared from the Dashboard at my NaNoWriMo account.

NaNoWriMo Dash

I started off strong. I was even well ahead of schedule by Day 3. I fell a little behind on Day 10, but caught up on Day 11.

Then I crashed into a wall.

I had an opportunity to cover the California Conservation Corps regional flood training for my CCC blog. I lost a couple of days of NaNoWriMo writing, but I already arranged to take the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving off just in case I needed some catch-up time.

It didn’t work out that smoothly. I needed a few days to workout some technical issues that I had concerning the blog story. Then the stress from trying to get that story posted before Thanksgiving drained any energy I had for NaNoWriMo. Just before Thanksgiving, my wife Patsy asked how far behind I had fallen.

“Horribly.”

So…I did not hit the goal of 50,000 words for the month. However, I do have 26,370 words written that I did not have on October 31, so I’m counting this experience as a win! (By the time I got back to my NaNoWriMo account, NaNoWriMo was closed and I couldn’t add any more to the word count. I did write for two more days after my last official update, so I actually reached 26,370 words and not the 23,856 totaled on the Dashboard.)

I filled over one-and-a-half Moleskine notebooks. This was where I ended.

It Ends

I did learn something interesting about Redding participation in NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo Redding 2

Apparently, fifty-eight novelists who consider themselves to be in the Redding area officially participated in the 2017 NaNoWriMo event. They wrote a combined 1,035,613 words in November.

NaNoWriMo Redding

I know that WF members Carolyn Faubel and Vickie Linnet participated. We heard from Carolyn on Friday. Vickie wrote consistently for two weeks, and then had a chance to reconnect with a family member. Two weeks seems to be the common point for hitting The Wall, doesn’t it?

I don’t know who those other writers were, but somebody made a mad dash on November 30 to push that final number over the one million mark. Well done, Redding!

I can’t wait until next year. Oh, yeah…I plan to run this marathon again!

We accounted for three of the fifty-eight Redding area writers officially entered at the NaNoWriMo website. That leaves fifty-five writers unaccounted for. Would any other Redding writers care to share their 2017 NaNoWriMo experiences?

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My NaNoWriMo Experience by Carolyn Roberts Faubel

Today we hear from Writers Forum member Carolyn Roberts Faubel about her NaNaWriMo experiences. If you participated in NaNoWriMo, we would love to hear your story as well!

Cropped Carolyn Faubel 1

We are writers. It’s what we are.

Is it really what we are? Or is it what we do? Can you know, deep down that you are a writer, but the “doing” part is more elusive? Of course, we write little things, a poem here and there, an article, a bedtime tale. But the larger passion, the dream, the thing that wants to connect us to our real identities as writers is patiently waiting to get stirred up.

From writing my first little plagiarized story in the third grade, I felt the thrill of creating with words, painting a world, setting a scene, putting characters in it and typing along to see what happened next. Although I was consistent in writing over the years, the span of time between my stories, poems, and writings was long, and I felt like I wasn’t really accomplishing anything significant. I had no discipline, and I had no defined goal.

I didn’t call myself a writer.  I wanted to, but I didn’t. When I did write, I saw myself as “doing writing.”

Growing older can make you peer closely at your goals and desires and compare them with how much time you are really spending on them. What place did I want writing to have in my life? How passionate was I, really? After discussing it with myself (I’m never bored, having such an attentive person to talk to anytime I wish), we decided that the thing we wanted to do more than anything else was to start, write, and complete a novel. Specifically, one for the preteen kids, about 5th or 6th grade. Wonderful! I had a goal. And about that time, I began to identify with “being a writer” as an identity, rather than as an activity. But now what? I was itching to put my typing fingers into action.

The standards I set for myself can be tough. The weight of my need to lay down meaningful and worthy and coherent words kept my typing fingers hesitating above the keyboard. Ideas got jotted down on little notebooks. Tips and tricks from books and the internet got filed. Websites with story prompts teased me to go have a look. And the dark ugly thought grew in me. Did I have it in me? Could I ever write something as long as a novel, even a short one?

And then came NaNoWriMo.

My sister told me about it. It was beautiful. It was permission to write a crappy novel! Just fling word after word at the wall, making them stick into something resembling a completed book. High encouragement to throw something together that might barely make sense, if that’s how it worked out. I looked at it as practice, and a test for myself. If I could do this, if I could just FINISH a crappy, disjointed little novel during the month of November, NaNoWriMo month, then I would know what I was made of. I would know that I wasn’t just a writer, but by golly, I wrote!

That morning of November 1, I had no plan, just a laptop and a cup of coffee by the window. My fingers began to type:

Like waves rolling and breaking further up the sand, now drawing back, then reaching forward, consciousness slowly came to Kevin. He still felt the paralysis of deep sleep, felt like his body was encased in plaster, and he couldn’t twitch so much as a finger, but his mind was beginning to move from the night towards the day. With great effort, he managed to open his eyes halfway. They felt sticky. Bright light from an open curtain washed across his vision, and for a moment Kevin felt the room begin to spin. Or was it his body spinning? He couldn’t tell. His head ached, and his mouth felt sour. Had he overslept until his body rebelled, or did he have the biggest hangover of his young life? He moaned and heard the pitiful sound as he exhaled. I can’t remember anything, he thought.

(Kevin)

 Neither Kevin nor I knew what was going on yet, but we both began to discover how he had gotten into his predicament.

It was pretty fun the first few days, but then the daily writing discipline began to be overtaken by other tasks and chores and obligations. And then November was gone, and I had not finished my novel. Drat! A bit of regret and disappointment in myself colored half of December 1, but then my natural optimism took over, and I stashed my story for later and planned on repeating my efforts the next November.

Later, much later on, Jared realized the significance of the thudding and scraping sounds that had started to waken him during that night. But he had not wanted to fully wake up at 2:00 in the morning so he had shut his eyes tighter and created peaceful scenes in his head to try to go back to sleep. It had worked, and he had been able to sleep in another 3 or 4 hours. At first he was horrified to realize that he had been sleeping away, like a Goddamn kid or something! While the most terrible and important thing in all of his thirteen years was going on, he was snoozing away, just like a baby!

(The Wail of the Zither)

Just like “Kevin,” “Wail” also did not get finished. I was annoyed at myself and stashed this one also for later. But I tried to use the experience get some revelation about my style, habits, pitfalls. I’d had a better idea about where this story was going, and that made it more enjoyable to sit down and write it. But the two-week mark was the killer zone, and I just couldn’t get my momentum back after that half-way point. I also realized that I was not a fast writer. Thoughtful, yes. Speedy, no. It was hard to just type away, not worrying about sentence structure, grammar, developed ideas. That would be what I would work on next year! Freeing my careful, controlled thoughts to something more fun and free flowing. Maybe.

It was more than a couple years later when I was able to try NaNoWriMo again. This time, I had a secret weapon, a writers club! I was a member of the Redding Writers Forum, and I knew that at least one other member was going to plunge into the word frenzy of National Novel Writers Month! I could feel the silent backing of the like-minded people entering this dash. I signed up on the website in October. I created a summary of my intended story. For once, I knew what was going to be happening ahead of time in my book! But I was very disappointed when outside events kept me from taking the time I needed to begin writing. After the first whole week of November had passed, I decided it was too late. I knew I wrote slowly, and there was no way I could catch up. But then, I got an encouraging email from NaNoWriMo.  And it said,” If you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late!” A simple message, reminding me how much of this is about the trying and the effort. Just get your damned laptop out and start writing! I got my resolution back.  I began typing:

At first, the girl felt, rather than saw the rosy glow that surrounded and enveloped her body. It was warm and felt good. Soft almost, like a fluffy sunset cloud touching her sore skin. She didn’t know why it was sore and felt bruised, and why her head ached, but the red warmth felt nice and she laid there as she tried to think. Was it morning, and she was just having a hard time waking up? It didn’t feel like her bed, her sheets. It felt more like the grass in the back yard. She didn’t remember anything, and it gave her a little bit of a scary feeling. The girl did not want to open her eyes. It was safer and more pleasant to just lie there, probing her thoughts to see if anything came to her. There was a great temptation to just go back to sleep, but in spite of her wishes, her mind only became more alert and awake. She opened her eyes. And instantly the girl knew she was not in her back yard.

(The Strange Planet of Alien Snails)

Alas, “Strange Planet” did not get finished either, yet. The halfway-through-the-month doldrums caught me again. But I learned even more about myself and what I will need to pull this off, this novel-writing stuff. For one thing, I will have to be a NaNoWriMo renegade and break a rule. Because I write more slowly, I shall begin my novel next year on October 1. I consider this accommodation similar to a handicapped horse race, and I do not feel guilty in the least. I shall take the time commitment more seriously and block out what I need in my calendar. I shall collect even more people to keep me accountable. I must prepare for the mid-month slack-off and put strategies into place. I will appoint for myself a place to write that is beautiful, inspiring, secluded enough, and provided with a bowl of snacks and a place to set my coffee cup. I will give myself permission to write purple prose if need be, to use bad grammar, if that’s what it takes, and to have some things just not make sense, if that will get the thing done.

Because that’s what I am, a writer.

On Your Mark…!

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, kicks off tomorrow.

The official NaNoWriMo website lists 36 participants from the Redding area. Are you one of them? Check in with us here! We would love to cheer you on!

20171030_120233I have my notebooks ready. My pens are fresh. I’m ready to go.

The process is really pretty simple for getting involved. Technically, you just need to write, but it can add a motivating factor to actually sign up at the NaNoWriMo website and interact with other writers attempting the same goal. It’s free.

You don’t even have to be working on a novel. The event was originally organized for novel writing, but other categories have been included in the project. I am officially a Rebel, because I will be working on something other than a novel. I will be adding to my memoir, with which I have been stalled at 30,000 words for far too long.

It’s not too late to start on your 50,000 word commitment for November! Come and join us! Share your NaNoWriMo stories and thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

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Geo.

My NaNoWriMo Master Plan

Yes, I do have a plan for attacking the massive project that is NaNoWriMo.

First, it is important to understand that the point of NaNoWriMo is to get 50,000 words on paper. The goal is not to create 50,000 publishable words. The goal is to get a rough draft. The project instructions specifically say that editing anything you write during NaNoWriMo is a big no-no! The goal is to get a big chunk of words written that you can then go back and edit after November.

That said, here’s my plan…

To achieve 50,000 words in the thirty days of November, you need to write 1,667 words per day, every day, to achieve the goal. If you take weekends off and lose eight days of writing, you need to write 2,273 words on every weekday to hit the mark. Don’t forget…the Thanksgiving holiday is in there, too. More potential days off. If you take those days off, your daily goal for the remaining days goes up.

img_20150912_082649_350My particular writing style is that I always do my rough drafts in longhand, in notebooks like Moleskine or Picadilly. I’ve tried to compose on a keyboard, but it never goes as smoothly as longhand. I find myself editing as I go, and that is a huge anchor when you are attempting a word count goal.

One of the most important lessons that I learned in the California Conservation Corps is that the way you accomplish big goals is to break them down into smaller pieces that are easily manageable. 1,667 words per day is an intimidating number. A much easier number to work with is 500. I know I can write 500 words pretty easily. I am pretty sure that I can write 500 words before work, 500 words after work, and 500 words before bed, for 1500 words. That leaves about 167 words to account for at some other time during the day. I can round that up to 200 words. I can find time for 200 words during breaks at work and on lunch. That would give me 1,700 words per day, and I should be able to achieve my goal comfortably. Right? (That dull roar you are now hearing in the background is all of those NaNoWriMo veterans laughing at my cute and tidy plan.)

Since I’m going to be writing longhand and won’t have the handy word count feature at the bottom of my page as I write, I had to personalize my production math for this project. What I discovered is that I average 171.8 words per page in my notebooks when I fill a page. Three pages are 515 words. There are about 80 pages in every notebook. I should fill four notebooks by the end of November.

There is my target. Ten or eleven pages in my notebook, every day. Three pages before work, three pages after work, three pages before bed, and about a page-and-a-half whenever I can during the day. Here is where the beauty of my notebook comes in: I can fit it in my back pocket. It is always with me. When I come out of FoodMaxx, before I start the car, I can knockout a couple of paragraphs. Easily.

And there you have my NaNoWriMo Attack Plan.

Military planners say that no plan survives initial contact with the enemy. We shall see.

Fellow NaNoWriMo writers…what is your plan? Share it with us!

-Geo.

Ambushed by NaNoWriMo

It was supposed to be an easy project. I was going to write a piece on NaNoWriMo for Writers Forum. Then for the next day, I was going to post a link to a podcast or YouTube video on NaNoWrimo. I was going to look around to see if there were any local writers participating this year, or if there were any NaNoWriMo events in Shasta County, and write a short blog post on them. For research, I went to the NaNoWriMo website to dig a little deeper into how it works.

Before I knew what had happened, I had signed up to actually participate in NaNoWriMo. Now I’m on the hook for 50,000 words in November.

What have I done?!

So…on Wednesday, I join the mad scramble of writers all over the world going for 50,000 words on their projects.

Right now I find myself at Madayne Eatery and Espresso on Hilltop Drive on a Friday morning, trying to clear several other writing projects off my desk/laptop to make way for the What-Have-I-Gotten-Myself-Into Project.

NaNoWriMo Laptop

Seriously, I am looking forward to this challenge. I have been aware of it for years, but I’ve never had the guts to give it a shot before. Even if I don’t make 50,000 words, the worst that can happen is that I make some progress on my Big Writing Project.

If you still haven’t gone to the NaNoWriMo website to check it all out, you can find it here:

https://nanowrimo.org

Are any other Writers Forum members along for this ride? Anybody else from the North State who reads this blog? Share your stories with us!

If you know me at all, you know that I believe that everybody has a story worth sharing.

-Geo.

An Interview With Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo

Hopefully,  yesterday’s post piqued your interest in writing your novel during NaNoWriMo.  Hopefully, we can coax you a little further along in your writing project today.

Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA interviewed Executive Director of NaNoWriMo, Grant Faulkner. They discuss NaNoWriMo and Grant’s book Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo.

Here is the interview. Click on the ‘play’ button at the end of the first section.

https://diymfa.com/podcast/episode-169-grant-faulkner

 

The Challenge: Write your Novel in a Month

Are you up to the challenge of finishing the first draft of your novel in one month? Would you like some accountability partners to help you get there?

You’re in luck.

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as participants call it. The goal is to write down 50,000 words for a first draft of your novel between November 1 and November 30.

Are you curious? Interested? Intimidated? Read the press release from the official NaNoWriMo organization.

 

Unleash Your Creative Superpowers with National Novel Writing Month

 

Berkeley, CA (September 25, 2017)—One part writing boot camp, one part rollicking party, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) celebrates its 19th year of encouraging creativity, education, and the power of the imagination through the largest writing event in the world.

This year, NaNoWriMo expects over 400,000 people—including over 70,000 K-12 students and educators on our Young Writers Program website—to start a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. Throughout the month, they’ll be guided by this year’s theme: Superpowered Noveling.

Join the League of Extraordinary Writers

“NaNoWriMo ignites people’s superheroic creative powers every year by empowering them to write their stories. It takes courage, grit, resilience—and wild imaginative leaps—to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month. Our stories save us from villainous forces that we encounter every day. Our stories determine the future of our world,” says Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo.

Last year, NaNoWriMo welcomed 384,126 participants, in 646 different regions, on six continents. Of these, more than 34,000 met the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month.

This year, participants will be inspired by weekly “pep talks” penned by published authors, including Roxane Gay, Kevin Kwan, Julie Murphy, and Grant Faulkner. NaNoWriMo will also provide participants access to mentorship from authors including Emily X. R. Pan, Mur Lafferty, and Jasmine Guillory.

Our Mission Statement

National Novel Writing Month is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes your story matters. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.

PressContact

Katharine Gripp, CommunicationsManager

katharine_gripp@nanowrimo.org

WebPresence

Websites: nanowrimo.org and ywp.nanowrimo.org

Facebook:NaNoWriMo

Twitter:@nanowrimo

Instagram:@nanowrimo

For further details about the NaNoWriMo youth program, please see NaNoWriMo Press-Release-2017 .

We will post more stories related to NaNoWriMo throughout the month of November. Let us know if you are participating this year!