No NaNo

So, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year.

I know. I’m shocked, too.

This is a departure for me. Usually, I have a book I want to finish in November. some ongoing project I need the nuclear power of a thousand other writers behind to wrap up.

Last year, I told myself I’d power through the second book of the Mitzy Morgan series, but, since I was querying the first book, I decided I just couldn’t do it. Instead, I wrote a new book, one I still feel is something good or great, something that remains in the hopeful queue.

Right now, I have a loose outline, character notes, and agent-approval on a new book. In fact, I’ve had these things. So why no NaNo?

1. I can’t take the pressure. Submitting books is hard, y’all. It’s a lot of waiting and wondering. The thought of adding a deadline for a new book is intimidating and makes me want to pee myself a little. And no one likes pee.

2. I’m a wee bit competitive. If I start a book at the same time as my friends do, I’ll end up feeling inadequate and ashamed when I’m slower than they are.


3. I think this book could be really good, and I want to take my time. I’m a believer in outlines. Mitzy #2 was tough for a lot of reasons, but one of those reasons was a loosey-goosey outline. I’m not gonna do that again. I have faith in this one, and I’m gonna outline the crap out of it. Oasis just flew off the page, and that was in part because of my preparation. No more pantsing for Kristins.

OMG SLOW DOWN! My writing buddies are, like, super-fast.

4. I’m lazy. Right now I’m working on clergy-training classwork, SDF materials, and pre-novel prep. There’s only so much I can (or will) do. These things take time, as my mentor tells me, and, because I’m lazy, I’m pretty willing to give myself that time. Time = good. Pressure = bad. At least right now.

Yep. I love my couch. *snuggles couch*

5. Because I could’ve been a cheerleader. I totally tried to be a cheerleader in eighth grade. You didn’t have to try out or anything, but it seems I missed the deadline. Still, I’m a peppy type, and I think I can help my friends who are writing (or, you know, playing football). I can shake my booty and wave pompoms. And that’s what I’m going to do.

No, really… I’m happy you’re writing more words than me.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo 2013? Why or why not? How are you doing with that decision?


NaNoWriMo Prep: The Survival Kit

One of my favorite threads over on the NaNoWriMo forum is entitled, “What’s in your NaNo Survival Kit?”

Oh, yes. One of the best bits about NaNoWriMo is the stuff. NaNo is like a month-long party, and you can’t throw a good party without a few basic supplies. And a writing party has very specialized supplies.

1. Caffeine. My drug of choice is tea. Take your pick, and buy lots of it.

2. Snacks. For me, this includes nuts, fruits, and, yes, the occasional piece of chocolate. I also like Celestial Seasonings’ holiday herbal teas. Not a snack, exactly, but Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride keeps me from binge eating, well, sugar cookies.

3. Music (and headphones). Start working on your novel soundtrack now. Pick one song that captures the mood of the whole novel and could serve as the background track for the movie preview, and build from there.

4. Someplace comfy to write. I generally write at my couch. Yawn, I know. But I also  haunt the Starbucks at my local Barnes & Noble, which is also somewhat comfy and has the added benefits of different scenery, different hot teas, and new books to look at when I need a break.

5. Someplace not-so-comfy to write. When you need to focus, have a place where you can concentrate without interruption. For me, it’s the silent reading room at the public library, which is so silent that I feel sheepish opening a bottle of water.

6. Ponytail holders. Okay, this only applies to some, but sometimes long hair is a distraction.

7. A treat. This can be anything that will make you happy and motivated. This year, I bought a new travel teacup and a reloadable Starbucks gift card. Last year, I bought some cute elbow-length fingerless gloves to protect my tender arms from the edge of the desk. Get yourself some treat that will remind you that this process is supposed to be fun.

8. Some way to back up your work. This is passe, I know, but if you lose your first 35,000 words, you will cry. Use a flashdisk, get a DropBox account, or just email your work to yourself a few times a week. Do it.

9. A fun distraction. I recommend a novel that’s completely different from the one you’re working on. Or The Vampire Diaries. Or Buffy. Or The Sims 3: Supernatural. Honestly, if you need a distraction, come to me and I’ll give you one.

10. Supportive friends and family. Yeah, I know, you can’t buy this from Amazon (yet). But you can warn your loved ones that you’ll be really busy next month and that it will be a LOT of fun. We’ll talk more about this next week, but you should probably go ahead and give them a heads up now.

Are you excited yet? I am! Add me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo website! You know you want to! There will be more exclamation points!

NaNoWriMo Lead-Up: Planning

So, you’re thinking of joining the hoard of insane writers who sign up to write 50,000 word in a month.

Good for you. It’s wild and crazy and totally fun.

It also starts in just over three weeks. And while for many, the fun of National Novel Writing Month is in the blind panic of flying by the seat of your pants, trying to figure out what wacky incident happens next and will yield at least another 4,000 words, if I tried that method, I’d end up curled in my closet, drinking wine from the bottle.

Nope, if you ask me, it’s best to go into NaNoWriMo with a plan, so that you never have the horrible, “What comes next?!” moment. If you have a roadmap, even a vague one, you will always know what scene should follow the one you’re writing.

Even if you hate planning, you should think of a few basic things.

1. Who is your protagonist?

2. What does he/she want?

3. Why does he/she want it?

4. How will he/she get it?

5. Who will try to stop her? Why?

If you can think of these basics, you’re well on your way to developing a plot. You have a protagonist, a goal, an antagonist, and motivations for both sides of the opposition. Pantsers as well as plotters will need to know these basics, but there’s still plenty of wiggle room.

I’m not playing the NaNo game strictly by the rules. Last year I used the month to finish the book I’m now shopping; this year, I’ll use it to start my next work. I’ll be spending the next three weeks plotting it out in meticulous detail—I’ll also be posting here for the next three Wednesdays, offering a few tips to help you get ready for the novel-writing madness.

If you need some additional plotting resources, check out these posts from the Spellbound Scribes (including yours truly!):

Structure: Plot’s BFF by Emmie Mears
Pantsers vs Plotters by Shauna Granger
Confessions of a Former Pantser by Kristin McFarland
Plotting with Scrivener by Adriana Ryan
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Claudia Lefeve

Early NaNoWriMo Lessons

Well, three days and 8000 words in, and I’ve already learned a few things.

Day one started on a low note (“But… I’m sleepy… I don’t want to work!”) and ended on a high note (“Woo! This is gonna be awesome! I just wrote a great scene!”). The high note carried into day two, but didn’t carry me through, and yesterday ended on a very low note (“I’m tired… I went to the eye doctor today… I’ve done a week’s worth of writing in two days! Is it December yet?”).

Today I needed a shake-up, and that’s how I realized what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Seeing people is good. I hadn’t really left my apartment in four days, except for the brief unpleasant trip to the eye doctor, so I was going a little Shining stir-crazy. Today I went to Barnes and Noble to write at Starbucks, and the simple change of scenery–plus a healthy dose of caffeine–helped with the crazies. I knocked out a thousand words there and a thousand words at home after lunch no problem.
  2. I edit a lot. I never realized before how much I edit as I go. Very rarely do I see a poorly constructed or just plain bad sentence in my rough drafts, because I rewrite as I go. This is what makes me a slow writer compared to some, I think.
  3. I can silence the Inner Editor by defying her. On day one, I made a tiny grammatical error. I started to go back and change it, then realized what I was doing. I stared at the error. It stared at me. I wrote a new sentence… and moved on with the scene. Oh horror of horrors, I left it there! And the Inner Editor shut her mouth when she realized that I’m the boss.
  4. I am lazy. Writing 3000 words every day has been strenuous, but 2000 a day? No problem. I’ve written in the last three days what might normally take me two weeks. That’s just absurd. After this month is over, I’m leaving the 1000 word per day goal in the kiddie leagues where it belongs.
How’s your NaNoWriMo trek going? Learned anything about your own process yet?

Get Ready, Get Set, Goals!

And a happy Halloween to you.

NaNoWriMo officially starts tomorrow–or tonight, if you’re a night owl, I suppose. I’m entering panic mode, looking at my Scrivener outline and thinking, “There’s just not enough story here for a full novel, I’ll never get 50,000 words, why am I doing this, what’s the matter with me, I’M GOING TO GET EATEN BY A PLOT SHARK AND MY SOUL WILL BE DEVOURED BY STORY DEMONS!!”

That’s an exaggeration, but only a slight one. Most of those thoughts come from the Inner Editor, and it’s about time to gag her and stuff her into the never-opened water heater closet in the bathroom. On a rational level, I know I have a good, long outline worth at least 60,000 words, and that outline will more than likely expand as I go. It always does. I also know that 1,667 words a day (even if that’s a minimum), is not that many words.

So here is my cool, collected list of attainable goals for NaNoWriMo:

  • Write 1,667 words every day, at minimum.
  • Learn to tell the Inner Editor to shut the hell up.
  • Learn to let a first draft be a first draft. No more agonizing for an hour over “extracted” versus “untangled.”
  • Finish my current novel, Shaken (This one might be a lofty goal, but no one ever accidentally shot a friend by aiming high.)
  • Spend at least one hour every week refueling, as per Emmie Mears’s challenge.
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, what are your goals? If not, tell me some of your goals for November anyway!