Behind in my NaNo Updates – Day 11, 12 & 13

This NaNoWriMo has been different then most. It has been very consistent. I’m not really having good days and bad days, just days. I struggle to get to about 2,000 words each day, then I hit my stride and zoom through the last of my words for the day. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is pretty boring to read about. The 11 and 12th were both more of the same. On the 11th I had to make up some words I missed on the 10th to give me a 5k total for those two days. The 12th was just like any other day.

On the 13th I decided it was a great day to try and get some extra words. I have a writing retreat coming this weekend, and I would love to hit 50k by the end of the weekend. That means one day early at my daily 2.5k pace. Not a big deal as even when I go over my word count one day I still aim for 2.5k the next. Those extra words start to add up. They weren’t adding up to a full extra day though.

I was off work the 13th, and for higher word count days I like to break my writing into two or even three sessions. So on the 13th I set a goal of writing 1,000 words in the morning. That wasn’t too hard. My son and husband went out to run an errand and I wrote while they were gone. In the afternoon I found time to write about 1,000 words while my son watched a bit of TV. Then I sat down to write in the evening as usual.

My goal by the end of the 13th was to be at 35,000. That would mean that if I got my 2,500 words each day I’d finish on the last day of the retreat. When I hit 35,000 words I realized I was only about 100 words away from having a 4,000 word day. I figured why not! and wrote an extra 150 or so words. That gave me over 4,000 words on the 13th and put me a little over my goal of 35,000 by the end of day 13th. Now to keep the lead I’ve given myself until the end of the weekend when I can finish with friends at the writing retreat.

How is your novel going this year? Have you had any surprises?


NaNo Daily Challenge – 15th-21st

As promised here are the next seven things I’m going to be focusing on for my NaNo Daily Challenge. I am going to repeat a few I really enjoyed earlier in the month. Also I’m struggling to ‘break’ my character, so a bit of a focus on that this week.

  1. focus on voice
  2. Someone betrays your main character
  3. Use more than sight to describe things (touch, sound, taste, and smell)
  4. Use “yes, but” or “no, and” to solve problems
  5. Show the characters have affect on the story
  6. Let the worse case scenario happen
  7. Find ways to increase the tension

Time to get writing.

My Love of Notebooks

A pile of unused Moleskine large cahiers

I love notebooks and journals. The pile of journals in that picture? My UNused large Moleskine cahiers.

The first time I really fell in love with a journal was when I was in Italy in high school. My parents took me, and my best friend M to Europe for three weeks. While we were in Italy we ended up in this little store that sold daily planners. They were simple school planners. Each day had a page, and they weren’t year specific. Anyway M and I each picked one out. They were about 5 inches across, and 7 inches tall. Mine had a pinkish floral design (which is funny because I’ve never been a pink kind of girl). I wrote in it every day for most of the year. The writer in me wishes I’d kept it, even with all its embarrassing confessions.

After that I started using whatever notebooks I could find. Coil bound 5 star notebooks in various sizes were a favourite. They were cheap and you could get them for multiple subjects. they laid flat when you were writing in them. The coils got in the way on the back of the page though, so I often only wrote on one one side.

When I started university I discovered those blue lab notebooks. I bought an extra a few times and they became my go to for writing fanfic. I liked the hard cover, they didn’t get messed up being tossed in my backpack, and they weren’t too expensive. The bright blue took some getting used to, but it wasn’t out of place on a university campus.

Then my husband, technically boyfriend as this was before we were married, discovered the ‘Everyman’s journal‘ from Lee Valley. I filled one with fanfic stories of my favourite show at the time. A second is still sitting in my study untouched. They are lovely journals, but big. Not something I want to drag around with me all the time. I certainly can’t throw one into my small L.L. Bean boat and tote.

Through university, and after, I would pick up notebooks when I found them on sale racks, or when I just needed something new to write in. My father was a Moleskine fan, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on my notebooks. Sometimes I bought coil bound, sometimes a regular book bound one. I ended up with countless half finished notebooks. When my father passed away one of the things I did was raid his notebook stash for the Moleskines. There is still one left, with a beautiful blue map cover, that I know I’ll grab someday, but so far I can’t bring myself to take the last of the ‘good’ ones from him.

Squared, unlined, and lined Moleskine cahiers.Over the years I’ve culled my notebook collection. Getting rid of things that were full of scrap notes, or old course notes. Keeping the filled ones that had value to me. These days I usually use Moleskine large cahiers. I sized my Fauxdori to fit them. They are small, but still last a few months when used as a Bullet Journal. The paper is decent and the notebooks are cheap, so I can use one per novel idea and not feel guilty about it. Plus they come in lined, unlined, and squared.

Do you love notebooks? How many notebooks do you have?

Update for Days 8, 9, & 10

All three of these days (Nov. 8-10) I debated stopping early. I knew I wanted to hit 25k by the end of day 10, but I had a nice buffer of 500 words going into Day 8. I held off using any of that buffer until day 10. On the 8th and 9th I got over my target of 2,500!

This whole month has been a bit strange in terms of my writing pace. Usually I write at a fairly consistent pace. During November there are always a few days that feel like a real slog, but it doesn’t happen every single day.

All three of these days started slow. On day 8 and 9 it took almost 2,000 words to feel like I hit my stride, and I could write at a faster pace. Of course by the time I’d written those 2,000 words, it was late and I could only get so many more words before it was time to sleep. I did manage to get over goal both days, giving me an even larger buffer going into Day 10.

Day 10 felt slow for the first 600 words or so, but then the words came fast. I was busy with doing other things, so it was more like tiny writing sprints where I would get say 250 words then stop for a while to do other things. It was productive, but in the end I had to stop with only 2,200 words. It was too late to get anymore. I felt bad about eating up some of my ‘extra’, but it was nice to finish the day over 25,000.

My NaNoDailyChallenges:

  • Day 8 was to avoid redundant phrases. I am not horrible about doing this, but it is something I think about more during editing than writing. It was good to think about it during writing instead of holding off. I don’t think this would make it into my regular rotation of things to consider while writing though.
  • Day 9 my goal was to focus on the voice of the story. This is hard. I think the real issue is that the voice of all my stories sounds the same. The characters, even if they are different in their attitudes, habits, etc have the same voice. I need to read up more on this, and maybe find some specific exercises to try to improve. Doing this as a daily challenge kept me aware of the problem, but I didn’t feel closer to fixing it.
  • Day 10 was to make sure things still happened while my characters are talking. This is something I am conscious of on a normal writing day. I enjoyed getting to focus on it without the other background noise though.

How is your month going? What are you learning from NaNoWriMo?

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?