We’re pretty much in full-NaNoWriMo mode at this point. I’m currently nearing the end of day six, sitting at 9,768 words and hoping to get to at least 10k by the end of the night.
Today I wanted to share some updates and thought I might as well link up with Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In for their Beautiful Books writing update. I’m going to be going rogue and changing some of their questions, though, so be sure to see the original post if you want to link up, too!
Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
It’s not awful. I was pretty nervous on Day 1 because the whole day itself was pretty stressful and I only wrote 800 words. Being behind on the first day is pretty troublesome. But instead of beating myself up about it or staying up really late when I had to work the next day, I just went to bed and started with a fresh mindset the next evening, and it worked! I cranked out the words on Day 2 and 3 and haven’t gotten behind since. (by the way, I put a widget in the sidebar so you can keep tabs on how I’m doing per day!)
The novel…is going okay. I had a freakout moment going in because I realized that I hadn’t plotted very well, but I actually had more outlined than I had originally thought. I’ve added in some scenes here and there along the way to round things out, but it still feels very one-dimensional to me right now. I’m not sure who said it or where I heard this, but I read somewhere that on the first draft, you’re telling yourself the story. That’s exactly how it feels right now. When people ask me what it’s about I can’t really say succinctly because I’m still just trying to tell myself the story.
What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
I was going to give you the first paragraph or so but I just reread it and it isn’t very good, so you’ll have to settle with the first sentence:
It wasn’t a very old library.
The scene opens describing the library at the university where my main characters meet. Even though the university itself is old, the library is new because it had burned down in a storm earlier that year. The community and alumni donated a lot of books to fill its shelves again, so it holds a very odd collection.
What do you love about your novel so far?
I’m not entirely sure I love anything about it yet. It all still feels like a seed instead of a flower. It hasn’t blossomed yet; it hasn’t even broken the surface.
That said, today I wrote a pretty funny scene where my MC was talking to a pregnant woman about the baby names she was thinking about. I wanted to make them pretty…eccentric, so I chose Myracle for her firstborn’s name, and she was thinking about Merika or Majesty if baby was a girl, and Malikai if it was a boy.
What has been the most difficult part about writing so far?
I’m writing in third person limited (though alternated between the two MCs) and past tense. This is really different from my usual 1st person, and I’ve been writing in present for at least the past three NaNos, so switching to past is difficult. And the outline (which I wrote back in May) is in present tense, so every time I reference it I automatically want to switch to present and then have to go back and change my verbs around.
What are your writing habits?
This year, I’ve been trying to write a little before I go to work in the morning, a little bit on my lunch break, and then the rest in the evening before I go to bed. The distraction-free mode in Scrivener has been really useful to me this year. I can write pretty quickly if I stay focus. Otherwise, I’ll write 100 words before stopping to browse the internet.
I also create a playlist every year of about 20 or so songs and listen to that while I write (NaNo is like the only time of year where I’ll pay for no ads on Spotify). If I stay focused, I can usually get to my word count goal with one playthrough.
What keeps you going even when it’s hard?
Word sprints. I didn’t do any word sprints for the first three years I did NaNo, but then I tried them and have loved them ever since. I work pretty well under a deadline (which I mean…that’s kind of the entire concept behind NaNoWriMo), so if my only goal is to put words on a page in a fixed limit of time, I thrive. I close my eyes and think about the scene and just let the words flow. I’m a pretty fast typer, so it works well for me. I just have to clean up any typos afterwards. This helped me a lot last year, where I was behind from Day 4 all the way to Day 30, but still managed to hit 50k by the end.
But apart from that, the community. I’ve had more and more friends join in NaNoWriMo over the years, and my friends and family are always so supportive, and the online community is incredible. Most of Twitter is kinda crappy these days, but NaNoWriMo twitter is my favorite. Everyone has the same goal and even though nobody really knows each other, they’re always so encouraging.
How private are you about your novel while you’re writing?
I was kind of embarrassed the first few years I did NaNo and didn’t talk about it that much, but now I’m in my 6th year and I tell literally everyone I can. Family, friends, strangers, co-workers, internet people. I let everyone in the world know that I’m dedicating myself to this endeavor…partly because it keeps me motivated, and partly because I like it when people I know IRL take interest and want to do it too. And my family has started to understand and accept that I’m going to be MIA for most of November for probably the end of time.
That said, I’ve gotten more nervous about talking about my actual story to people. I think that’s because I’ve been writing contemporary this year and last year, so naturally everything in the story is going to be more personal. It’s going to pull from real-life events. When I was writing fantasy, that wasn’t really an issue.
What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
- Write something every day. I know it’s hard. I’m not saying you have to write the same amount every day, but write something. Keep coming back to it. Keep it fresh in your mind. Every day you put between yourself and your writing makes it harder to return.
- Get involved with your writing community. Like I said earlier, the NaNoWriMo community is awesome. I tweeted about how I didn’t make my word count on the first day, and I got all these replies from people that were so encouraging and uplifting. The past two years, I’ve become more involved with the local region forums on the NaNo website, and being able to meet up for write-ins with people in your area is amazing. It really helps if you know that you’re not alone in this, and it’s exciting to share your passions with people who love the same thing.
- Don’t stop writing at the end of a scene or chapter. I know it might seem neat and tidy and ideal, but it will always be harder to get started the next day if you leave yourself with a blank page. Always try to write at least a little bit, even a sentence, of your next scene so that it’s easier to jump back in.
- I wrote a blurb. It’s not great but it’s something:
Kelsey is starting college again after taking a year off when her fiancé was killed in a car accident. She’s attempting to pick up the pieces of her life, but finds the rural college setting much different from the city where she grew up.
Daniel is in his final year of college. He think he has everything figured out—his ideals, his passions, his faith. He’s lived in a tight circle his entire life, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
After discovering a shared love of the same graphic novel series, Kelsey and Daniel begin to grow closer. She teaches him how to look at people; he teaches her how to appreciate the outdoors. Their relationship teaches both of them how to respect each other despite their differences. But as the year passes, their relationship becomes strained, and they are left with the question:
What’s most important in a relationship: shared interests, or shared values?
- I made a cover! I used a template from Canva so it was super quick and easy, but still looks better than my covers from previous years.
- I got a cute pencil holder for winning a word sprint at our local write-in last Friday. I wrote 562 words in 10 minutes!
- Here’s this year’s playlist, if you’re interested! I try to have the songs relate the story in some way or at least give me the right vibe. The rule is that I can’t reuse songs from year to year (with only a few exceptions), and I can’t have more than two songs from the same artist on the same playlist.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo?
How is your writing going so far?