Having Survived NaNoWriMo

We survived NaNoWriMo.

I mean, I hope we did. Hopefully we also hit our word count (or got to where we wanted to be).

I wrote 50,075 words, and aside from a few days where I fell behind, I kept up the pace of 1,667 words a day.

It taught me a few things, or maybe it reminded me of them.

1. I can write that much in a month. It’s not easy and I couldn’t do 50K every month (without dropping other things in my life) but it’s not impossible. So maybe I need to aim a little higher with my word counts (especially during the winter).

2. There’s more to writing than making words. Yes, I hit the word counts and finished the story, but is the story good? I’m not a strong judge of my own stories, so I can’t say, especially right now, so soon after finishing it. But it does make me want to write a bunch of short pieces (5K-ish) and use them to hone my writing skills (through feedback from my writing group). Then maybe compile them into a book and self-pub them? I dunno, just a thought.

3. I really don’t mind writing vampires. I wouldn’t do it all the time, but it wasn’t a bad experience. I liked being able to fiddle with the myth and add my own twist to things.

4. There is freedom in just writing and not judging. I tried really hard (and think I succeeded) in writing without thinking “Is this any good?” It let me tell the story. Now that it’s done, I guess I can go back and fix things. HOWEVER, as noted above, I do want to improve my craft so that the first draft is stronger and requires less line-level edits (phrasing, structure, language use).

5. I still like writing 🙂

That’s all. Hopefully this exercise will mean good things for my future writing!

Thoughts on Nanowrimo

As we pass the third-way mark and round toward halfway, I think about what I’ve written so far, what I have yet to write, and what I usually write. How I usually write.
Normally I write as the story wants to go. I’ll plan out the major actions, make sure things lead up to it properly, but generally I just write with the general scene in mind.
Which, yeah, is what I do with Nanowrimo too. BUT (and thats a big but) there is the lurking terror of getting to day 25 and realizing you’ve written a 45K story instead of a 50K story. Now you have to go back and worm 5K more into that story. In five days. GOOD LUCK.
Um, what I mean is that if you’re striving for that word count each day, you tend to not rush toward things. You tend to focus on getting as much out of the scene as you can so you can hit that word count (or maybe that’s just me). And while that can lead to a lot of fluff, my beta readers will tell you…that’s not a problem I have. Most beta readers say I need more details, more this, more that. So nano forces (?) me to really work on describing things. Feelings, actions, surroundings, people. I’m not saying I still do a lot of it, but I do MORE. Baby steps.
In the form of 1,667 words a day! 
Other benefits to Nano:
1. Writing every day. Yes, it’s murder and I couldn’t do it for more than a month, but it’s kind of cool to write every day, squeaking in words around work, friends, food, horses, and knitting.
2. Since I am writing every day, I’m more in tune with the story. There isn’t a month between what I wrote in the beginning and what I wrote at the end. I’ll likely remember the character doesn’t drink coffee and not have him drinking coffee later.
3. Challenges are fun, especially when losing really isn’t a big deal.
4. Permission to write absolute schlock. I’m not sure my current story will ever see the light of day, but it doesn’t matter. It’s just for fun, and that takes the pressure off. It’s like when I go for a run–if I run for exercise, it’s hard to motivate myself. If I run because it’s a gorgeous day and I feel like running, it’s fun.
5. Cheering on your other friends who are doing nano with you. And yeah, you can cheer when you’re not participating, but it really doesn’t feel the same.
Here’s to the next 18 days!

Surprise! It’s August

August is a month of mixed emotions for me. When I was a kid, I was torn between wishing summer would never end and wanting school to start again (Shush, I was one of those!). Also, my birthday is in August, so I always got excited about that.

Despite continuing to age, I still look forward to my birthday presents and I no longer dread summer ending, as it just means the weather is going to get nice and cool (before getting VERY cold and me looking forward to April).

This August snuck up on me. I’ve been busy writing 30,000 words for ‘Camp Nano’ (You can see the progression here.) Plus working full time and part time, riding my horses, and flitting around place to place for birthday parties and other familial events.

But, I did get my Camp Nano done (code name BAW), I got back MotF edits (*weeps*), and I finished up and sent out to beta MotF2. I have two stories I want to submit at the end of August, one at the end of October, and several others I’ll get to when I have time to check my pulse! I’m feeling like an actual author, just a bit 😉 Of course, all of these could get smacked down and not accepted, but yeah…that’s part of feeling like an author too 🙂

On a happier note, I have 12 billion stories I want to tell and no idea how many of them will make a complete story. Pretty little trinkets in the mind don’t always translate into a story others want to hear (or stories that the characters want to tell). Some days I just want to make a book of snapshots of various characters. Maybe I will.

I’ll put it on the list.

Quick Note

I probably won’t be doing much blogging here for the month of July, for two reasons:

1. I’m going to be doing Camp Nanowrimo in July (instead of June or August, because I’m a rebel like that). I shall continue posting reviews, which means working full time and part time, reading, reviewing, riding horses, exercising, and writing 1,700 words a day.

2. I’m going to try to make a tumblr post every day, just as a general update, vent frustrations, that sort of thing. It can be found here: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/alexwhitehall. They shouldn’t be long, but if you’re interested in my progress, there it shall be.

Come August (ack!) I’ll give an update on where all my projects stand, as it feels like they are in a constant state of flux! Thanks for your patience.

Boooyah!

I finished Nano2011! Okay, still need a title and tons of editing, but it’s “done.” This monthly goal thing might be a good idea after all. Now to save it to 6 billion places and tomorrow start looking at CL.

Again.

Squeaking by

January’s resolution of finishing Nano2011 may or may not happen, seeing as it’s just over 24 hours away from ending. I only have two scenes to do, but one is a love scene and the other is a club scene/gang initiation. I mostly just stare at the screen when I try to write them, but I do want to get it done so I can put it aside for a while and look at it with a fresh eye.

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One of the reasons it didn’t get done (or at least has me down to the wire) is that I was browsing through my old stories that were finished and I came across one that fits a submission in April. I reworked a large chunk of it, made it 7,000 words longer, and now have it sitting waiting for me to re-read and fix up for April. Going to need a beta again. It’s a fantasy short with some tattoo kink, if anyone is interested.
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Working full time and part time is keeping me hopping. It’s also keeping me from writing in some ways, but not enough to actually make me want to stop working both jobs. It’s kind of nice to have work I can always be doing, because it brings structure to my days. I love structure and having a task to complete.
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Okay, off to relax and try to figure out this damn club scene.

Wake Me Up Next Week

It’s November 30, which means it’s the last day of Nanowrimo. So how did I do?

I won!
Which really just means I’ve reached 50,000 words. The story isn’t yet finished (although I’m not sure there will be too much more added to the end), so of course a writer friend commented, “Congrats! Now finish the book!”
Isn’t that just how it goes?
But for tonight I’m going to ride on the high of finishing 50,000 words in one month. It’s really not that hard if I cut out all the stuff I don’t really need to be doing. And if you’ll hear my confession: I procrastinated A LOT this year. Imagine if I didn’t get distracted by Angry Birds, stare blankly at Twitter for updates, and check my mail, Google Reader, Facebook, tumblr, and GoodReads every other click? I imagine I’d be just as productive, because I’d eventually get distracted by something else. (Like writing long, rambling blog entries.)
So in the month to come I hope to wrap up SWTV, write a Christmas story, and dive back into CL.
Final thought: Writers must be masochists.