Doing Nano is Not Like Riding a Bike

I have to admit that being that this is my 4th year doing NaNoWriMo, I came into it with somewhat of a cocky attitude. I’ve done this before. I just published The Road Home, the novel whose first draft I wrote during my first Nano. I’ve always come up with way more than 50k words. I got this. I can do this easy peasy. Not so fast.

Doing NaNoWrimo is not like riding a bike. Just like every day of our lives, the fact that every week has a Monday doesn’t mean that every Monday of our lives will be the same and I learned that lesson real quick this year. October 31st I was sitting on my bed, ready to start right at midnight. I hate the look of a totally blank page so I have to admit that I wrote the title of the novel before midnight, but I don’t think two words will disqualify me from the race. As soon as the clock hit midnight the race for words started and I went to bed around 12:30am with already 2k words. I was on top of the world.

Well, since the week before Nano I had been struggling with a cold, which of course doesn’t cripple my fingers, but it does fog my brain. Now I had to push through going to work, go to all the write-ins that I committed to host and the rest of my life not feeling my best. Also this year was election year and I was glued to the television waiting for the results.

The reality is that although I’m still making good stats and I’m ahead on my word count it has been quite a struggle to do so. My focus and concentration have been divided between responsibilities, life, and writing more than in years before. But also I was not counting with the editor Monster to be part of my journey. For some reason I had been able to just write out my story in years prior. This time the editor voice in my head refuses to shut up. By Day 3 I was ready to push select all then delete. I have to say that thanks to my NaNoLanta Wrimos I held back from doing it and just wrote an alternate Chapter 2 that has allowed me to go on with my story.

You may want to know, which story did I choose. As per your suggestion and my desire I’m writing “The Adulteress” and if I finish it on time I will begin Greetings from Saint Nick, but right now I don’t think that second part is going to happen, because this story has gone way out of the original plan and taken on a life of it’s own. Oh, and I have managed to write almost half of this novel and all my characters are alive. Talk about an accomplishment.

Well, let me go and stop using my blog as another method of procrastination for the struggle: I have to write this novel.

Write Wrimos Write!

My Lessons from NaNoWriMo 2011

Every year is the same thing, the challenge to write a novel in 30 days of 50,000 words or more. But is it really the same thing? In my three years doing Nano I can attest that it’s never the same experience, even if you’re meeting with the same people. So like every experience you take something out of it and I’m going to share my lessons from this year.

  • Thou shall not publish a book in October if you’re planning to participate in NaNoWriMo. Goodness gracious alive! It was my first time, and as first timers go, I didn’t know any better. I had no idea of all the work involved once you’re published and balancing all that was quite challenging.
  • Write-ins are your friends – I don’t think I would have made it this year without the write-ins and the support from my Pandas (Atlanta’s wrimos) There were days I couldn’t write being overwhelmed with other responsibilities, and writer’s block rode on my back all month, but you get to a write-in with the mindset that during that block of time is to focus on Nano, and you also talk out your hurdles and everyone pitches in, it was awesome!
  • Not all wrimos are created equal I think I took for granted that I was kind of veteran in this NaNo business and the first week I pushed very hard ending with 30k. You may think that’s amazing! Yeah, but then I was burned out and dragged the rest of the month. You shall never compare yourself to those non-human wrimos who can write 50k in a day (no names mentioned Smile with tongue out) and know that 3-5k for you is ok that way you’re not banging yourself against the walls in the middle of November.
  • Sleep is not optional – As much as I enjoy working all day and night… Wait, who am I kidding, I love my sleep! and  I missed it so much this month. If my plot came to me in a dream, then why didn’t I just take a nap when I was stuck. My brain just doesn’t function well with little sleep, it does things like forget to pay the bills, drive pass my exit, lose my car keys that are in my pocket…not a pretty picture!
  • I love my wrimo family – I have to say that at least in my region, wrimos are very close, even if we only see each other once a year. We stay in touch sporadically through social media throughout the rest of the year, but I’ve met some dear friends through this program. This year, a beautiful lady with whom I speak every day on twitter from Canada came to Atlanta and I had the opportunity to finally put a face with a name.  I also met two other Christian writers, one who I was her mentor and the other one who came to one of my write-ins. It’s a great experience overall.

So even when I did write over 50k this year, I don’t consider it a win because I didn’t complete the novel, but I had fun, met some fun and exciting people, was able to get with my friends again, ate the best coconut cake in town, didn’t gain weight during Nano and overall enjoyed the process of a new creation.

Until NaNoWriMo 2012, Have a blessed day!

Remember as it says in that cute green picture on the left side of my blog. From Dec 2nd to the 6th 99 hours of inspirational books by 10 authors for 99 cents, including Growth Lessons. Right in time for the holidays!

Testing the waters

One of my struggles throughout the year is finding time to write. I have a regular full-time job. I have a lot of ministry responsibilities. I have an elder mother who somewhat depends on me. So when I’m home,sometimes the cleaning, the finally having a chance to sleep or finally having a moment to have dinner with a friend cuts those moments short. I still manage to do it, but some days are more challenging than others.

I think my biggest challenge is that I’m a night person and have the ability to be up and ready early for my regular job I had to be in bed by a certain time. I’m not complaining at all. I’m very grateful for the job that I have, I’m just stating a fact.

This past week I had the opportunity to see what my life as a full-time writer would look like for the first time. In the past when I took a vacation, it was to do a specific errand or travel. This time I took my vacation time to write. As you all know I’m participating in NaNoWrimo and today starts the second day week of the challenge.

I was concerned that I could not be disciplined enough to be home, do what I needed to do and keep up with my writing. I’m proud to say that I proved myself wrong. Since I’m a night person, I woke up early, not by choice but my dog can’t walk herself. I prepared a full breakfast. I have not had one of those in years. I did loads of laundry, worked on my platform for a few hours in social media, read some of my educational blogs, finished the questions for an upcoming interview, by then it was lunch time. I took a quick nap (30 minutes) because I had gone to bed at 3am.  Got up, took a shower and went to my first hosted write-in where I cranked an additional 2k words. As of now I’ve written a total of 30,000 words and it’s just been a week. I know that this is a first draft that requires a lot of revision, but I actually enjoyed the pace of life I had during that week, and I honestly worked harder than my usual weeks.

This gives me hope, that yes, in God’s will and in due time, I can be discipline enough to make my gift, my full-time job and lifestyle.

Wrimos, lets keep on writing!!!

Be blessed.

NaNoWriMo has arrived!

…and we shall surrender to the fire that runs through our veins. We shall abandon it all for the upmost desire, the one that will allow the adrenaline to run, the words to entangle and the body to stop breathing…

Oops! I had not seen you there! I’m just getting ready for tomorrow…well tonight. NaNoWriMo starts right at 12:00am and I’ll be ready. I did my last trip to the store to stock on goodies for the month.

By now, some of you have gone to your kick off parties and have received tons of tips and advise from experienced Wrimos, but just in case let me do for you a virtual Nano Prep-Kit:

Icy Hot is your friend- I discovered that during my second Nano. When you are going to many write-ins and having many word wars your wrist become unhappy, but you need to continue writing to get through that word count. It works like magic…it does smell, but it’ll wake you up to make you write some more.

Fill your pantry with hot pockets and ramen noodles- it’s not because of budget reasons. You don’t have too much cooking time. Save your grocery money for your write-ins and take that opportunity for a good meal, but unless you have someone else cooking at home… you need to do something quick. You have writing to do! Remember to buy frozen meals for your family if you’re the one in charge of meals…it’s against the law to cook in November for Wrimos…I tried to warn you!

Coffee– This is vital, you don’t need sleep. You can sleep in December. November is for writing. We will allow you a quick nap here and there so you don’t hallucinate…although that may help your story.

The rules for Thanksgiving– I use to host Thanksgiving every year at my home. Nano broke me out of that bad habit really quick. Now I allow others the opportunity to cook for three days and have their houses to clean afterwards and I offer to bring dessert; which will be carefully made by a local supermarket. Lessons to be learned.

Treats- buy your favorite treats and reward yourself after different milestones in your word count. Also buy your kids, dog, cat or all of the above new toys and treats so that they have something to do while you’re writing.

SAVE YOUR WORK!-Omg! You have no idea how many times we have lost thousands of words, full pages and some have lost their whole work because someone accidentally clicked on the wrong button, the cat decided to crawl over the keyboard, the baby thought the keys looked appealing, the computer decided to die…the thought alone gives me a panic attack. But do not fret. The other thing I’ve learned is about dropbox.com It’s a free storage place for your documents and pictures. You can access it from any computer as long as you have internet access. You can even access it from your Ipad and IPhone. So if the computer dies your novel doesn’t go to the grave with it…but not even dropbox can save the novel for you. Do not trust auto save…every 15 minutes or so hit the save button, it takes 1 second and it will save you from a heart attack or pulling your hairs out.

I finally want to say that I’m very excited as this year I’ll be hosting some 111030-161919write-ins for NaNoWriMo. YAY! Look in the nanowrimo.org site and go to the forums to find out when there will be a write-in close to you. It’s a great experience. For those Pandas in the Atlanta Area that will be going to the write-ins hosted by ‘therisingmuse” look out for these two cute faces.

Happy Noveling!

It’s beginning to smell like Nano

I can’t believe November is around the corner. It’s finally not a hundred and five degrees. I was able to sit outside without the fear of melting. The stores ahead of the game as always have already all the Christmas things out, but the best thing is that it’s Nanowrimo time!

For those who don’t know what Nanowrimo is, it’s the National Novel Writing Month. It’s where thousands of writers abandon themselves into the crazy challenge of writing a novel of 50,000 words or more in just the month of November. This will be my third year doing Nano, but different that my prior years, I have no clue of what I will be writing about.

Us Wrimos (Nano writers) are doing all sorts of preparations at this time. This is our Super bowl, our All Star Game, the moment we wait for all year long. Wrimos are starting to pre-cook meals for their starving families, taking pictures of themselves as that’s all their families are going to see, blocking their calendars from other social events other than our write-ins (meetings of wrimos to write in public places)and buying extra underwear as there will be no time for laundry during the month of November. We will only stop for two hours on Thanksgiving because we need to be thankful to God for our lives, our muse and the turkey and then back to writing.

Do I have many wrimos out there? Do you have a plan set in place? I would love to hear from you.

Let every word count.

Having a bad writing day, week, season… you get the idea!

Some women experience bad hair days, I think I’m having a bad writing day (or season) not all days are inspired in a writer’s mind. Some days words flow and some days it’s really hard work. Even I’ve had great revelations when I’ve been tired or sick, but lately it’s like my brain has ran out of steam and finding the ways to express myself has been nothing less than challenging.

I guess it’s because I’m trying to force myself to write in a certain way, my head is not going in the direction that I’m trying to steer it. So it basically has come to a halt. I’ve been having somewhat of what I have called writer’s ADD. Multiple ideas, stories and sentences are all popping into my head not enough to do anything with them or that would make any sense and by the time I sit down to write, they are gone. Having lost the routine of walking around with my netbook, which has been in ICU for a while, giving me only glimpses of available usage every now and again; I have missed plenty of opportunities of random usable muses that have crossed this brain of mine. (My netbook has been crashing and freezing and now that finally I can get a new one, I’m emotionally attached to the dysfunctional one and can’t part from it. You don’t have to say it, I know!!)

I went to the website of writer Lisa Scottoline. I recently read one of her latest non-fiction books; she’s funny and real and I wanted to gain some perspective from a professional writer. On her website,  She was talking about the everyday of a writer. She has a word count goal everyday. I started thinking that I write most days, but not everyday. Not because I don’t want to, I just don’t do it. Ironically, the day I don’t write I spend the day agonizing about the fact that I have not written a thing.

 Then I started feeling insecure about my writing. I think most writers would agree that there are days when you write exceptional things and some days you just write junk. I think that’s part of why there are some days where I don’t do the commanded “butt and chair” exercise of writing is because I already know in my head that whatever is coming out is junk and I don’t like to write junk. So I get discourage before even sitting to write trying to achieve perfectionism, where do you even find such thing?

I had read about writing everyday before, I want to come up with a reasonable word count goal, as I’m not yet (calling it in faith) a full time writer and I hold a normal 8-5 job and a life, (well something like a life…hahaha!) I don’t consider writing a hobby. Writing is a part of me; it’s my way of expression, so even when today I think that my writing sucks, I don’t think I could stop doing it. The times that I did, I felt dead and I’m not going backwards. Writing like anything in life takes practice, so the more I write, the better it would get.

I decide today to start writing everyday, (not necessarily a blog post). I’ll think of my reasonable word count after a few more hours of sleep, right now I couldn’t decide between chocolate or vanilla ice cream. I promise to start browsing for a new laptop, and pray that I fall in love again with one that will follow me for a few more years in this journey.  I chose to just abandon myself in the words and allow them to flow instead of trying to control them…that’s why they don’t want to come out…LOL! …and look, who knew? I had tons to say from someone who didn’t know what to write about! (All 650 words and all 🙂 )

Wrapping up NaNoWriMo

Writing samples: Parker 75
Image by churl via Flickr

As I sit here, thirty minutes to the end of this crazy month, I decided to write a reflection on the lessons that have come out of November 2010. I know that after writing almost 300 pages of fiction, you would think that the last thing that I would want to do is write. On the contrary, that’s one of the things NaNoWriMo does for me, it is the fuel that fills my tank for the next 12 months of future writing.

What were my November lessons?

  • · I need an outline– Last year I had an idea of what I wanted to write. I even wrote the name of the chapters. This year, I knew what story I wanted, had the title ahead, but didn’t know the development of the story which caused many writer’s blocks and moments of frustration.
  • · Write-ins and Nano community are vital for success– I can’t thank enough my Municipal Liaisons for their support. They kept me encouraged, motivated and challenged to go above and beyond my own goals. I also became more involved in the chatroom and not only was very motivated but I will be laughing at some events for the next 12 months.
  • · Who’s who– I did get my chai latte and my smoothies. I am very appreciative to all of you who in one way or another kept checking on me or supporting me throughout this month. I also saw people fell of the face of the earth because I couldn’t be there for them during this month in the same fashion that I usually was. It’s sad when people can’t support your dreams, but I always like when God does house cleaning. He’s the best!
  • · Motivation– As a child writing was my hobby, when I returned to the writing arena I knew it was my passion, now I know it’s also my ministry, it’s what makes me happy, what I was created to do and as long as God allows me to move these fingers, published or not, I will continue writing.
  • · You don’t have to gain weight just because you’re writing– I tend to eat and write and I have to admit that I did it this year as well. What was the difference? My food choices. I ate more fruit, organic cookies and to my shame a lot of diet soda. Water got boring quick, so instead of juices or other things diet soda kept me busy from eating and I actually lost 3lbs during the saga. I also tried to make better choices at the write-ins.

What’s next?

  • · There’s a Christmas surprise for my readers in the works.
  • · Writing and submitting two short stories for an inspirational contest in March.
  • · Editing and submitting one of my books for another inspirational contest in June.
  • · Waiting and letting all of you know of the results of all these submissions.
  • · Continue to inspire all my readers as I get inspired myself through this blog.

 

I thank you all for your patience and support. The glory goes to God, I only show up with my laptop and my fingers.

YAY! November is over!