Best Laid Plans, or, Guess Who Jinxed Herself?

When I wrote last week’s post about finishing NaNo, it was Tuesday, and I was sitting at 48,000 words with a full writing day ahead of me on Wednesday. I had perfect confidence I would finish NaNo and then some (after all, I still have more plot to get down).

I had the rest of my week planned, too: all the errands I’d been putting off, including two bus trips across town to do shopping, and a SCBWI meet-up on Friday. It was set to be an awesome and productive week.

And then I got sick.

I woke up at 3am on Wednesday morning with the worst stomach flu I’ve had in years. I was too sick to write (let alone run any errands or go to a meet-up).

(I actually thought about getting up to cancel last week’s post because it felt like lying to you guys, but I was too sick to get to my computer in time.)

However, exactly one week later, I am finally feeling better. I managed my last 2,000 words (to win NaNo) on Monday, despite having my daughter home sick with an ear infection, *and* having to break for naps. (I still have plot I need to finish, but that’s going to have to wait until I complete all my time-sensitive errands – not surprisingly, being sick in bed for a week has made my to-do list considerably longer.)

For all my fellow NaNo-ers out there (or anyone working on a draft at their own pace) Congratulations! You made it through November and presumably ended up with more words than you started. If you *did* manage to complete a first draft, check out this post from two years ago outlining my advice for you should do next.

Getting the Words Down

By the time this posts, I will have officially hit my NaNo goal (50,000 words since November 1st). However, thanks to a constantly developing plot (this is what I get for pantsing this draft more than usual) I still have about 10,000 or so more words left to write to actually finish this draft.

And did I mention I still don’t know how the story ends?

Yeah, so that’s going to be fun.

Anyway, even I don’t finish this draft in the next week (ie inside the NaNo window of 1 month), I’m still way ahead of where I was at the start of the month.

And I thought I’d share how I managed to squeeze out my words so quickly. Obviously, my methods won’t work for everyone, since we all have different ways we do things, so do what works for you.

  1. I’ve been writing as a basically part-time job, using most of my hours on weekdays between 9am and 2:30 pm (with some exceptions for appointments, illness and family stuff). This past week I’ve had some morning insomnia and added an extra hour of writing between 6-7 a.m.
  2. I never went back to re-write, even if the plot changed. I just made a note or two and kept on going.
  3. I didn’t care how much work I was making for myself in revision. (Of course, Future Kaye may have some choice words about this decision, but for now it’s the way to keep moving forward.)
  4. Restrictions. I confess, I’m really bad about distractions when writing, so I had to lay out rules. Basically it boiled down to having to write at least 1,000 words in a sitting. No checking the internet (unless it was research-related), no grabbing a snack or a cup of tea (much of this draft was written while hangry…sorry again, Future Kaye) until the magic number was reached.
  5. Rewards! I let myself have a delicious, junk-foody reward for every 5,000 words I logged (you probably saw them if you follow me on Twitter). And my special prize for 50,000 words? Getting to go do the holiday* shopping I have piling up, work on my holiday crafts, and generally get myself in the holiday mood. Woohoo!

I’m still going to push hard next week on finishing this draft, but I’m also going to let myself celebrate and enjoy taking a breather for a day. If you’re writing too, hope you’re getting the words down. If you’re more of a reader, hope you liked this insight into my process. And if you’re turkeying this weekend, hope you enjoy that too!


*I mean the December holidays. My (Canadian) Thanksgiving was a month ago.

Mini Post

Sorry guys, don’t have much to say today. Stomach flu is going through our house, and I am decidedly under the weather.

I’m still ahead of my NaNo goals (32,000 words as of Wednesday morning)…but that lead could easily disappear if this illness drags on for too long.

Hope everyone who’s writing along with me is having a better writing week than I am. Oh, and don’t forget to back up your work!

If you’re not writing, I still hope you’re having a better week than I am. Hopefully I’ll have a more detailed post next week.

The Hardest Thing About NaNo (for me)

It’s been a few years since I’ve done NaNo (National Novel Writing Month), so I’d forgotten the pesky little thing I always have the most trouble with.

Actually, I have two, but they’re related.

#1 is not going back and re-reading. (The only exception is after a weekend – when I’m too busy to write – I’m allowed to re-read the last half a chapter, just to see where I left off.) But I can’t afford to waste all my writing time reading. Plus, if I did re-read, it would make it even harder to avoid my other pitfall:

#2 is turning off my inner editor – not letting myself fix any problems I discover as I’m writing. And it’s not easy. This draft is rough. Really rough. But so far, I’ve managed to content myself with just putting some notes inline (or occasionally by adding comments, depending on what’s needed).

At this point, I already know I need to add more description (I’ve been writing mostly dialogue and action and letting everything else slide), re-arrange a bunch of scenes for better flow, and add a character (when I decided that one, I simply started writing as if she’d been in the book the whole time, so now I just have to go back and add her into the first few chapters).

And it’s working. As of November 8th I’m sitting at 17, 859 words, which is ahead of the game. But I also know it won’t all be smooth sailing.

I already mentioned I can’t write on weekends (too busy with my family), and I have a few appointments coming up that will impact my writing time. Plus, my headaches seem to have returned (I only wrote 1700 words yesterday because of one – below my personal goal of 2000/day, even if it’s above the official NaNo goal.) Plus there’s the fact that my kids are all fighting a nasty bug that could either keep them home or make its way to me. Or both.

And those aren’t even the writing problems that could derail me. I still only have the book loosely outlined – which has been working well so far. But I may eventually hit a point where I don’t know where the story’s going. Or where I write myself into a corner I can’t escape. Or where I just don’t like my story any more (aka. the mushy middle).

But for now, I’m going to celebrate my victories as they come. I have a treat put aside for hitting 20,000 words (hopefully today). And even if I don’t win NaNo (aka get to 50,000 words by November 30th), I’m still at least 17,859 words farther ahead than I was at the start of the month, and I still consider that a win.

Getting Ready for NaNo

As some of you probably already know, November is National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), where the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.

It’s been a few years since I participated, but since my two best stories (SHADOWCATCHERS and BIG FAT GEEK) were products of previous NaNos, I figured this would be a good year to try it again with my YA Contemporary idea.

While I know this post is a tad on the late side, I thought I’d link to some of my old posts for fellow writers struggling to reach their word goals. In my opinion, the best way to get words out quickly is to have a plan in advance (I’m a combination pantser and plotter, but I definitely write better if I have an idea of where the story is going, and who the characters are).

So, if you’re interested, click the links for advice on plotting, character development, drafting, and finding time to write. As always, there’s no right way to write, and these are just some of the things that have worked for me, so YMMV.

Happy writing!