Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaNo Final

Well, it’s official.

NaNoWriMo ends at midnight tonight.

There was a time, not too many days ago, when I honestly thought there was no way to make that 50K goal. At one point, I would have had to have 6 personal best days in a row. Yikes! Not likely!

But somehow, I pulled a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute. I had three really awesome writing days in a row, one reaching a new personal best of over 3500 words, and that brought the needed daily average down to what almost felt doable. Then a writing spurt where I got several hundred words in less than an hour, plus many more that day, helped even more.

I have validated my document.

I did it!!

I am officially a NaNo winner!

The work is by no means done, though. There are many words in that document that will never see the inside of a published book. There are large sections of backstory that will need to be reduced to a sentence or two, notes to myself regarding things that need to be changed when I start edits, and notes about things that still need to be written. There is also a lot more to write: holes big enough to stampede a herd of cattle through.

So even though this challenge is done, there are more to come. I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NaNo Update Nov 26

Well, there are only a few days left of the official NaNoWriMo writing challenge. I’m also almost halfway into my personal goal to be in better shape by January. I’ll be honest, there have been a couple times I thought I must be nuts to take on two big challenges at the same time.

The health goals picked back up this week. Even during the worst of the bronchitis I was drinking more water and fewer sodas. And those few pounds I lost have stayed off. Now that the breathing is back to almost normal, I’ve gone back to using the stairs at work when I can. I’m following the guidelines often given to patients: up one down two. In other words, if you have to go up one floor or down two floors, consider taking the stairs rather than the elevator. The big goal this week relates to Thanksgiving. The goal is to take very small portions of all my favorites so I am not denying myself, but don’t go overboard with huge portions or multiple helpings. And if I can get back to exercising soon, that would be good too.

The writing had both good and not so good this week. I had another personal best writing day at just over 3K! But it was followed by a day where I struggled for every word and only reached 1600. I knew I needed a super duper weekend to have any real chance at getting to the 50K mark by the 30th and put too much pressure on myself for that day.

But I showed up, I wrote on a day when I didn’t really feel like it. It was one of those days where I was working on developing the habit of writing even if the quality wasn’t so hot.

I’m at 37851 as I write this, and know that unless there is a miracle in the next few days I will not get to the 50K. It was a week I had to test my “I’ll be happy with any words” statement that I made to fellow writers.

But I can say I am happy with this challenge.

I proved to myself that 1000-1500 a day with a previous max of 3K for a full weekend is NOT my limit. I can have a much better writing day, and therefore writing weekend, than that!

I worked on developing a habit that I plan on making last.

I learned I need to show up every time I have planned to write, and I need to give it a serious effort, but if things are just not flowing, then close it down and go do something else rather than trying to force it.

And I learned that fast first drafts are not for everyone. I can do some serious writing in fast first mode, but I miss the feedback from my writing buddy and editor. I need a good balance of both.

But best of all, I will have a great start on a new novel and a pretty good direction for a full series!

That’s pretty awesome in such a short time!

How about you? Do you think you could set a high goal and achieve it in a month? Would you set a goal you know you can’t reach in that time just to see how far you can get? If you’re doing NaNo, what have you gained from it?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NaNoWriMo Update Nov 19

Wow! It’s the third week of my NaNoWriMo and better health journey and time for my Wednesday update again.

Health is still on the mend. Bronchitis and I have one of those relationships where it just loves to hang on and I would love for it to go away. The unseasonal cold weather the last week kept me indoors, but things are warming up back to normal, which should help the coughing, too. But I have managed, somehow, to lose a few pounds and keep them off in spite of the more sedentary week.

The writing, on the other hand, was terrific!

I had my best writing weekend ever! I wanted to reach a minimum of 5K for the weekend. Since that would put me a little shy of 22K, I was hoping to do those last 300 words to get me to that total.

I did it!

As of yesterday, I even officially passed the halfway mark! I’m at 25,102 words as I write this post.

And I had my best single writing day ever! It’s not easy for me to come close to that target of 1667 a day, which is one of the reason’s I’m nowhere near the 31.6K that would be day 19’s target. But I have had a few days over 2K. And Saturday I got to 2.9K! I was thrilled.

Some people are only participating to reach that brass ring of 50K, and others just to develop the habit of writing. Some are inspired by competition, racing each other to a daily goal or the overall finish line. But the only competition I find inspiring is me; competing against myself to reach new personal bests.

And I did it!

So no matter whether I reach the 50K in the 12 days left or not, I win.

Your turn. If you’re participating in NaNo what about it is working for you? And whether you’re participating or on the cheer squad, what kind of competition drives you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NaNo Update Wednesday, November 12

Well, it’s Wednesday and time for another update.

Health goals: Wow! This side of things took a hit! I went from feeling great to having full-blown bronchitis overnight. Between that and the sudden switch from summer to winter (what happened to fall??), I haven’t done any more yard work or gardening. Exercise indoors is also out until I can breathe again. So the goal for now is to just get back to normal.

Writing took a hit, too. But that’s not a real surprise considering I dove under the covers and didn’t surface again for two days.

This is also when many writers participating in NaNo hit a wall. The excitement of starting something new fades and reality about how much work this takes hits home. I admit that the last couple of days there were times when my fingers stopped on the keyboard and my brain went momentarily dead. What now? Where do my characters need to go?

A quick look at my stats page on the NaNo site looks depressing. If I were keeping a steady pace, I should be over 18K words right now, and I’m not. At the average rate that I have kept as of last night, I either won’t get to 50K until December 11 or I have to average over 1800 words a day to finish on time.

But, when I look at it from a positive perspective, everything changes. I’m at 13.7K right now. That’s almost 14,000 words into a novel that I hadn’t even started twelve days ago! My characters have been talking to me and their story is taking shape. No matter what happens from here on out, I’ve made amazing progress in a short time.

And that is wonderful!

What do you think you could accomplish in less than two weeks if you really put your mind to it?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

NaNo Update: Wednesday, November 5, 2014

 I did something totally crazy.

Not only am I participating in NaNo for the first time ever, I also made a personal commitment to be in better shape than I am now when 2015 rolls around. A big part of both is accountability – making sure to tell the folks cheering me on how I’m doing. Due to my schedule, I came into this knowing that Wednesdays would be the toughest days. But I thought that would be a good day for progress reports.

As for the health goals, excess stress in my life over the last year derailed a lot of habits and really goofed up the body. So the idea was to take small steps and make little changes each week that, cumulatively, would improve the big picture. The big thing for the weekend was to get up frequently and do something active. I did that working in my garden. For this week, I wanted to up my step average from 8000+ to 10000, and drink more water. I’ve got to be honest, I’m not there yet on the step count. I am doing well on the water, though.

Now for the more exciting part: NaNo. So far, 5 days in, I’ve done well and met my most of my word count goals. I came a little shy on yesterday’s target, but overall I’m at over 7300 words, so I’m still going strong! There is still a lot of time left. And I am sure I will have days along the way that are not so great.

But how do I feel so far?

I am loving this!

The biggest things that keep my progress slow when I write is the inner editor, constantly wanting to go back and revise and improve what I’ve written, and feeling like I had to write the scenes in order for them to really flow together well. I relaxed a bit on the scenes in order problem, but only a tiny bit. With NaNo, I knew I had to just write. I had to give myself permission to write a ton of backstory, write out of order, and leave it be regardless of whether it was a gem or a piece of horrible crap. Revisions won’t get the word count targets, and this month is about the word count, not the quality of each sentence or whether there is good continuity.

It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Problems can be fixed later.

My writing buddy and dear friend is probably sitting there right now thinking it took me long enough to get to this point. I’ve lost count of how many times he has said “Just Write!”

Okay. So it took me a while. But I finally get the idea.

If you’re participating in NaNo, what do you think? Are you meeting your goals?

If you’re part of the cheering section, feel free to post words of encouragement for ALL folks doing NaNo. And by the way, Thanks!! You’re the best!