Double Update Again – Day 6 & 7

Alright another double NaNoWriMo update today. I would have posted about day 6 yesterday, but I thought posting my next seven NaNo Daily Challenges was more important (and fun!). Today I’ll get to the word count updates.

Day 6:
Mondays have busy afternoons, but lazy early evenings. My son has a martial arts class, but my husband takes him. The time between school and martial arts is kind of tight, so I have to get dinner on the table earlier. But! Once he is fed and out the door, I have about an hour and 45 minutes to myself. During November, and I hope I keep this habit after, I write during this time. When he gets home it is a whirlwind bedtime followed by more writing.

My daily challenge was to use “yes, but” and “no, and”. I was introduced to this idea during the No Prep NaNo course I took with Mary Robinette Kowal. The idea intrigued me and I decided it would make a great daily challenge. It was a lot of fun, and it did give me a way to pile things on top of my character. In many cases it also helped me keep the story moving. Twice I found myself not using the technique and I went back and fixed it to my stories betterment. Final word count of the day was just over 2,500.

Day 7:
I didn’t get started on my writing until after 7:30p. With a daily goal of 2,500 this was later than I’d like. I got a workout in before picking up my son at school, and the time was well spent even if it meant getting a later start on writing. Sometimes in November I focus too much on writing and forget other things (like my fitness) matter. Glad I got the workout in.

My daily challenge was to show character emotion through action instead of labels. I’ve been working on this for a while, but the bigger problem I really face isn’t a labeling issue, but a poor description of emotions. Definitely something I need to continue to think about and work on. The first 1,800 words were a slog. It felt slow and cumbersome, but the last 700 flew by. I love when I hit my stride like that. Total at the end of the day was just over 18,000!

Are you on track for NaNo? What writing weaknesses are you working on?


NaNo Daily Challenge – 8th-14th

As promised here are the next seven things I’m going to be focusing on for my NaNo Daily Challenge.

  1. avoid redundant phrases (ex. circle around)
  2. focus on voice
  3. in dialogue heavy scenes, make sure you don’t JUST have dialogue
  4. use fewer adverbs
  5. don’t let the character(s) take the easy way out
  6. avoid cliches
  7. let your main character make mistakes

I’ve really been enjoying these challenges. Having one specific thing to focus on is much less intimidating than trying to remember everything at once. For NaNo I have a lot of practice at turning off my inner editor, but this lets me pick one tiny thing to think and worry about, without letting all the rest creep back in. This might be a writing exercise I take with me to my writing the rest of the year.

What are you hoping to get out of NaNo this year? Are you all caught up, or falling behind?

NaNo 2017 – Days 4 & 5

NaNoWriMo Bullet Journal SpreadI started the month with a vague idea of doing a reverse NaNoWriMo. Sure it starts with some really high word counts, but I’ve done high word counts before. I could do that. I probably could have with the exception of the first day of NaNo (wed are my busiest day). But it wasn’t fun. I want NaNo to be fun. So by the end of Day 2, I reevaluated my goals for the month. Instead of a reverse NaNo, I set two goals. One was to reach 10,000 by the end of day 4. The other was a goal of at least 2,500 words each day. That gives me a November 20th finish. After that I’ll try and write at least 1,000 words a day to keep my daily habit, but I’ll also more time to spend with my family.

Review time. Let’s start with day 4:
My NaNo Daily Challenge was to “show, not tell”. Great general advice, but also wonderful during NaNo as showing takes far more words than just telling. I managed to get almost 1,000 words in during the day around the usual weekend errands and chores. I also went to my first local write in for two hours in the afternoon. Was nice to see a few people I haven’t talked to since last year, and write somewhere other than a chair in my living room. That night felt like a bit of a slog, but suddenly at about 2,000 words my fingers were flying and I hit my 10,00 words before I could blink. I love when I get immersed in my writing and the story just flies by.

And now Day 5:
My NaNo Daily Challenge was to “not start each paragraph the same way”. This is very specific to one of my writing weaknesses. Probably 90% of the time, I start a new paragraph or scene with a Character’s name or dialogue. This can be a large problem when a scene doesn’t have a lot of dialogue. I really thought this daily challenge would slow me down. It did, in the beginning, but once I got in the groove it wasn’t too bad. This might have been my most useful daily challenge so far. Hopefully it will save me a bunch of time in edits too! Got my word count without much trouble. Total word count at end of day yesterday was 12,750.

How is your NaNo going this year? What writing weaknesses are you trying to work on right now?

Day 3 – Daily Challenge Update

Yesterday was day three of NaNo, and the third day of my NaNo Daily Challenge. The start of my writing day was slow. It felt a bit like pulling words from a muddy swamp. By the end of the night things were flowing much better. I ended the day with 2,490 words. That brought my word count total up to 7,129. I was hoping to hit a little closer to 7,500, but I’m still in fine shape to hit my goal of 10,000 before going to bed tonight. Especially since I’m hoping to go to my first write in of the month.

My daily challenge for Day 3 was to show my character’s flaws. To not make her too perfect. She isn’t perfect, but I didn’t do as well at showing her flaws as I would like. Partially I think this is because one of her flaws has been so obvious since the beginning that I was blinded by it and not seeing the smaller things that make a person more human than perfect pretend version of human. Something I’ll have to continue to think about going forward.

Today my daily challenge is to ‘show, not tell’. Great advice for NaNo, since showing takes so many more words than just telling. Let’s hope I can hit that 10k goal.

How is your novel going this month? Are you meeting your word count goals?

Day 2 – NaNo Update

I had a bit of a slow down on day 2. Final word count for the day was 1,920, making my NaNo total 4,639. My plans of a reverse NaNo are quickly dwindling. I think I could have done it … if we started on say a Friday. Wednesday’s are not great writing days for me though. I have too many things going on. I might pick the reverse NaNo up again once the word counts are under 2k for the day. Right now though, I’ve set my goal to be at 10k by bedtime on Saturday night. That will give me a two day word buffer.

My NaNo Daily Challenge for day 2 was to “focus on making dialogue sound natural”. I enjoyed this one. I’ve always like writing dialogue, but I definitely run into the problem of knowing too much about both sides of the conversation. It is always a bit too smooth, or a bit like they are hearing more than the other character is really saying. Yesterday I worked on having minor misunderstandings, with a side of a bit of confusion. We’ll see in edits if I think it worked or not. Either way, it was good practice and an exercise worth doing again in the future.

Are you working on any of your writing weaknesses during NaNo? What are some of your writing weaknesses?


Day 1 – Word Count Update

I was so excited about my new #NaNoDailyChallenge yesterday that I didn’t mention my word count at all. Of course at the time I posted my Daily Challenge idea, I didn’t have any words to post about!

Yesterday was a bit of late start. That is pretty much always true when NaNo starts on a work day. I am not what you would call a morning person. I am more of a wait until 9am person. On weekdays I can get myself to human by the time I start work at 8:30, but it takes a scrambled lunch packing, bus riding, tea making hour to do it.

I wrote my words in three batches. One between work and school, one between dinner and gymnastics, and the last after gymnastics. My total for the day was 2,719. A great start … except my plan is to do a reverse NaNo which has my first day word count at 3,346. Honestly, I knew I was going to be behind that number starting on a Wednesday (my busiest day of the week). Being only 600 words behind is great. I expect to be caught up before I got to bed on Saturday at the latest. If I work hard, I might be caught up by Friday by bedtime. Time will tell!

My #NaNoDailyChallenge yesterday was to use more than sight to describe things. I did a much better job than usual of using touch and a bit of sound, but I still failed pretty hard at smell. I think because I don’t have a good sense of smell, I don’t think about the input it gives me on a regular basis. Taste, I’ll give myself a pass, I tucked in one reference, and that is enough for me. Today my NaNo daily challenge is to ‘focus on making dialogue sound natural.

How was your first day of writing? Did you make your word goal, or like me will you be catching up to where you want to be?

NaNo Daily Challenge

On October 30th, I took Mary Robinette Kowal’s No Prep NaNo Course. I’d heard she has great courses and wanted to try one. This one fit in my schedule, my budget, appealed to my interests, and was timely. The course was great, and I learned a lot.

The thing that really got me though, was an off hand comment she made. She mentioned that she thinks NaNo is a great time to work on skills. She will often pick a specific skill to work on each day. That really clicked for me. I enjoy NaNo, but I seriously considered taking a break from it this year. I’ve won ten years in a row, and it’s a LOT of writing to fit into a single month. But suddenly I had this idea of using the entire month of November as a way to take chances, make mistakes, and get messy (in the words of Miss. Frizzle). Suddenly all of November has become exciting again.

There are plenty of things I want to improve on in my writing. So many that, I’m often crushed under the weight of trying to remember and deal with all of them at once. This year I’ll focus on one issue at a time, and I’ll deal with the rest in edits. I’m calling it my Daily NaNo Challenge. I like love lists, so I’ve made a list of the first seven days worth of challenge points below. I’ll post a new list each week (the 13th, 20th, and 27th) Feel free to make your own list and start tackling some of your weaknesses. I’m calling this my #NaNoDailyChallenge

  1. Use more than sight to describe things (touch, sound, taste, and smell)
  2. Focus on making dialogue sound natural
  3. Your main character isn’t perfect. Show their flaws.
  4. Remember to show, not tell
  5. Don’t start every paragraph with a name or dialogue tag
  6. Use “yes, but” or “no, and” to solve problems
  7. Show your characters emotions through actions

What are some of the things you’re trying to focus on in your writing? Have you started writing yet?

It’s NaNoWriMo time – Are you Ready?

grey notebook for NaNo 2017Tomorrow the yearly marathon of writing, called National Novel Writing Month, starts. Hopefully you feel ready. Ready for your fingers to fly, your imagination soar, and your stress level to rise. Ok, so that last one isn’t as exciting. I don’t think there is any advice that can completely take the stress out of NaNo, but I think it can be helped by being prepared. Also this is a personal challenge, that means you have the ultimate control over your goals and intensity.

If you are looking to get more prepared for NaNo, I might be able to help. My NaNoWriMo Series from 2015 still has a lot of valid information and ideas. It starts with How to get ready, and includes an entire post of tips and tricks to make the most of the month. I think the most important thing to remember is that NaNoWriMo should be fun, at least some of the time.

This year, I’m aiming to keep something of a journal to track my progress. My plan is to post twice a week, although I might choose to post more often than that. I want the updates to be brief and to the point, but hopefully they will serve as a record of what my NaNo experience was like this year. My first update will probably be on November 2nd. If I manage to get any words on November 1st, they will be too late to want to talk about them once they are written.

Are you ready for NaNo? Do you find NaNo stressful?

Creating a Calm Zone

My son, like most kids I guess, sometimes needs a space to calm down. We live in a small, or so I’ve been told, house and we didn’t have a dedicated quiet space. About a week ago we decided what we needed was a calm zone. A simple, calm, uncluttered space, with quiet toys to be used only in that area.

Finding a space was a bit of a challenge. Our dinning room and living room weren’t going to work, so we were left with finding space in my son’s bedroom. He has a half loft bed, and we thought about utilizing some of the space under it, but it is already used as a play space and is cluttered with toys even at the best of times. Then my husband had a great idea. The closet!

Our house is old enough that my son’s closet is only a half closet, the bottom half  is a wooden box hiding the fact that the space has been used to make head room for the stairs underneath. The good news is, that because of that box, his closet makes a great seat. I loved the idea, and set out to make it work. I had the space cleared out (and a big bag to go in the donations box) in one afternoon.

Then, I bought the supplies to make a seat cushion and a throw pillow. One night I put my sewing machine to good use and pillows! I’m pleased with the results since I’ve never made a seat cushion before, and I wasn’t starting with a straight forward rectangle. I made sure to include a zipper, so the cushion cover can be washed when needed. For the throw pillow I used a simple envelope cover pattern. My son chose the fabrics himself. The elephants are flannel because he liked how soft it was against his face, for the seat cushion I used a home decor fabric.

A simple calm zoneIn a little over a week we had a finished calm zone. The red suitcase is from IKEA, and it holds his calm zone toys. We picked quiet toys, books, a stuffed animal, and a notebook from his current toys. The bolster was a leftover from an old couch. I will probably recover it at some point.

The space is simple, but it works. He has added our battery powered camp lantern and enjoys reading in his calm zone before bed, or drawing in the afternoon if he just needs a break.

Do you have a calm (or chill) zone in your house? Where do you go when you need time to yourself?

Handstands scare me, but I keep doing them

Well, I’ve had five gymnastics classes now. I’m still enjoying it and can see myself doing at least one more session after this one. I’m starting to develop preferences for some coaches over others, and I’m starting to get a feel for what events I enjoy and which I’d rather avoid if possible.

The biggest skill I’ve been working on is handstands. In short, I can’t do them. The first week when they said to do five handstands, I remember my eyes going wide. The idea that I could kick into a handstand without any further direction was laughable. I remember trying and barely being able to get both feet off the floor in my attempts. My second foot probably came no more than a few inches off the ground. It needed to stay close to the ground, so I could feel safe.

The second week I worked on handstands on floor and was happy to successfully kick both feet off the floor without feeling overwhelmed. I was even able to get both feet several inches off the floor in donkey kicks. In many ways I found donkey kicks harder than a regular handstand. Having to kick both feet at once felt awkward and difficult.

When I kicked my legs high enough they were a 45° angle from the floor, I was amazed. I was seeing real, measurable, progress. In each of my five classes I’ve seen improvements on my handstand. Three times I’ve had the opportunity to focus on handstands during floor work. Last week I kicked into vertical for the first time! According to an observer, I made vertical, hung there for a fraction of a second, and even my toes were pointed to the ceiling. Last week I also had to truly bail for the first time. It was awkward and I didn’t do it well, but I survived and it left me feel more comfortable, not less. Who knows what this week will bring…

Are you able to do a handstand? What scares you, but you do it anyway?