Taking NaNoWriMo Into The Rest Of Your Writing Year

I did it.

I lost. I lost NaNoWriMo.

I’ve had a few weeks since the challenge of writing 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month ended on November 30th to think about it, and for my first NaNo experience I’m very happy to be a loser.

Yes, you read that right. Why would you be happy about not reaching your goal, you say?

My goal was to write 50,000 words and be a NaNoWriMo winner. I didn’t make it. But here’s what I did do:

  1. I’ve proven that I can write many more words on a daily basis than I thought I could. Before NaNo, 500 words at a sitting was a lot for me, at least psychologically. I’ve stretched my writing muscles and found that they are getting more limber and strong by the day. 1500 words at a sitting is easy for me now, and I will challenge myself to stretch farther. Word count is just a number, and can only stop me if I let it.
  2. I realized having an outline made all the difference for me to stay on task and finish. Yes, I finished! I didn’t make 50,000, but my 33,000 words plus what I had already written before NaNo, and two chapters written after let me finish the first draft of my novella. But I wouldn’t have known where the story was going and when I reached the end without a good outline. I’ve faced the fact I’m just not one of those creative pantsers, I get too easily distracted. But that’s okay. Outlines work for me, help me stay on task as well as discover new ideas along the way. I will continue to work with them in future stories.
  3. I linked arms with friends with the same goals and that went a long way in keeping me accountable and motivated. I made several new writing friends during NaNoWriMo through the NaNo hashtags on Twitter and the NaNo website. It was fun to encourage one another, share frustrations, and challenge each other to word sprints. I realize I can’t always have my writing peeps there to pull me through every rough writing patch, but it affirmed the importance of having friends who can relate to the ups and downs of the writing journey.

How can I take my new-found revelations into 2014 and make NaNoWriMo work for me beyond November? Here’s my plan:

  • Treat my writing like an exercise program. Write daily and write with a word count goal in mind. If I can’t write for a day, get back to it the next day. Can’t stay ‘in shape’ if you don’t work out.
  • Take the time to outline my story ideas. I don’t always have to follow the outline step by step, but it will keep me on track during those times when I’m feeling less than creative.
  • Make a concerted effort to connect with like-minded writers on a regular basis, both in person and in social media. It’s too easy for me (and my natural preference) to hide away in my introvert cocoon, keeping to myself. I won’t be sharing all the gory details of my latest projects (I think that can be dangerous to your project’s integrity, just my personal opinion) but I can connect with others to encourage and be encouraged. I always find inspiration to buckle down and keep going after commiserating with fellow writers.
  • Plan several writing mini-marathons throughout the year. Planning an entire day for nothing but writing, with a word count goal in mind, will help keep the marathon writing aspects of NaNo going.
  • Break it down into mini-mini marathons with word sprints at least once a week. There’s nothing like having a timer in front of you to make you fill that white screen or piece of paper with words.
  • Track my progress. I need to get back to basics and start tracking when I write and how much each day, so I can truly progress. I’ll be doing it ‘old school’ with a pocket calendar, which I was doing before, but had slacked off. Again, just like an exercise program, if you don’t keep track of your stats, you don’t know whether you’re improving, and when you need to ‘add weight’ to push past a plateau.

Need some more inspiration to take NaNoWriMo with you throughout the year? Check out these blog posts:

Three Writing Tips I Learned from NaNoWriMo from Janice Hardy at The Other Side of the Story

I Won NaNo with 20k by Ermiliablog

NaNoWhatNow: Three Tactics For Getting Un-Stuck from Author Kristen Lamb

How did you do with NaNoWriMo this year? What are your plans for 2014 to help you reach your writing goals?

Write Anywhere #75

I believe you can find the fuel for creativity anywhere.

I’m kind of passionate about it.

I think it stems from a conversation I had when I was young and impressionable. Not really a conversation but a statement presented to me as gospel. Someone who I looked up to and was supposed to be a nurturing presence told me I wasn’t creative. Flat out. Not creative.

Oh, yes, you are a pretty girl and yes, very smart. But you can’t do ‘arty’ things.

This person told me Continue reading

Parenting Guest Blog Post at Oklahoma Women Bloggers

If you’re a parent, do you ever feel like there are times you’ve had a complete fail? A ‘duh’ moment? That you’ve made a mistake that may cost you the admiration and respect of your children?

I’m sure we’ve all been there, sometimes on a daily basis. Stop by Oklahoma Women Bloggers today, where the ladies allow me to share about a humorous fail I had with my kids. Let the ladies know you stopped by with a comment. I’d appreciate it.

Losing My Mom Street Cred, or That Lizard Thing

Stay tuned to¬†kristin nador writes anywhere in the coming weeks for new posts on writing, creativity, and a new series on ‘Simple Steps to Blogging Excellence’. Plus we’ll check in and see how I did with my first NaNoWriMo challenge. Don’t miss a post: subscribe by email or RSS, or stick us in your Feedly today! ūüôā

Veterans Day Guest Blog Post at Oklahoma Women Bloggers

American flags, photo by kristin nador

They give freely, so we live free

Today is Veterans Day, and we recognize the men and women who serve to protect our country. If you are a veteran, we appreciate you!

As November’s Blogger of the Month for Oklahoma Women Bloggers, the ladies are running my blog post featuring two veterans I know, and how they helped me focus on the good things in life. I hope you’ll stop by and read it:

Bologna Sandwiches and A Lesson in Gratitude

If you get a chance, be sure to thank a veteran today!

Want to recognize someone for their military service? Feel free to post in the comments.

 

Week #1 NaNoWriMo Check-In: Resistance Is Inevitable (Plus Some Tips)

photo courtesy Btindall45, Creative Commons

photo courtesy Btindall45, Creative Commons

The first week of the National Novel Writing Month Challenge, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, has passed. For you writers who have accepted the challenge:

How are you doing? Continue reading

Blogger of the Month at Oklahoma Women Bloggers

Hey, everyone!

While I’m keeping my nose to the keyboard for NaNoWriMo, the lovely ladies at Oklahoma Women Bloggers have made me forget the torture of this month by dubbing me November’s Blogger of the Month. They are awesome, but you can’t expect any less from Oklahoma Women Bloggers.

As ‘Miss November’ I’ll have several posts that they will promote over there throughout the month.

If you’re a woman heading towards ‘a certain age’ you might want to check out today’s post. ’50 Tips For Making It To Fifty and Beyond’ offers some tongue-in-cheek advice for navigating towards the second half of life, as well as a few gems important women in my life have shared with me.

50 Tips For Making It To Fifty and Beyond

I’ll be checking in here on the blog about my NaNoWriMo experience soon. If you’re participating, keep writing. You can do it!

Now it’s back to the word count grindstone! ūüėČ

Do you have a proverb, something your mama drilled into your head, or any type of advice for women heading towards the big 5-0? Share it in the comments! We all need all the help we can get…

 

Write Anywhere #74

We’ve reached the last part of my August travels. It’s been a wonderful journey that I’ve enjoyed reliving by sharing it with you here on the blog. I know most of you have probably caught up with me at this point, but just in case, here is how the adventure went down:

Driving down Interstate 44 towards Tulsa, I reflected upon all my experiences over the past week. No matter how much you want to shield your children from hurt in this world, it’s going to happen in one form or another. As devastating as their experience was, I was proud of how the kids were handling it. I knew they would be okay.

I also discovered  Continue reading

Guest Blogging on Phobias At Oklahoma Women Bloggers

Hey, friends!

Those awesome ladies over at Oklahoma Women Bloggers are at it again. They have graciously allowed me to guest post for them today. Stop by and check out my post about a common phobia and how I’ve dealt with it:

A Partner Against Fear

See ya there! ūüôā

Diving Into NaNoWriMo, Cutting Out Excuses, and A Pile of Links to Help You Write Consistently

Messy writer's desk, NaNoWriMo, photo by kristin nador

Are you ready?

Each November when writers thoughts turn to NaNoWriMo, I’ve always talked myself out of participating. Here are a few of my excuses:

“I could never make that kind of word count goal in only 30 days.”

“But what kind of quality would be coming out of something written so fast?”

“I don’t have the discipline.”

“A bunch of family will be here for Thanksgiving week. That will derail me.”

“Ugh, a made-up event to make writing hacks feel good about not writing the rest of the year.”

“If I don’t make the goal, it proves I don’t have what it takes to be a good writer.”

“I don’t like scheduling my creativity. My muse needs freedom.”

“I already don’t have enough time for what I’m doing now.”

“It’s a big guilt trip.”

I’ve been debating with myself about doing NaNoWriMo for a couple months now. Trying to tell myself all the reasons I shouldn’t do it. Which is the very reason I NEED to do it this time.

Excuses are not going to cut it anymore. If I want to put on my big girl writing pants, I have to write. Every day. Writers write. Words. Lots of them. Every day I can.

It doesn’t mean every word I write will be descending on golden clouds of perfectness. I’ll probably write a lot of crap. That makes Perfectionist Me very uncomfortable. I continue to struggle with the messiness of creativity and my own inner critic. And that’s why I’ll be joining NaNoWriMo this year.

Writing 50,000 words in 30 days leaves little time for perfectionism and all its idiosyncrasies. It leaves little time to analyze my level of self- discipline and if I am building ‘healthy writing habits’. It comes down to a phrase a writing teacher of mine says needs to be a productive writer’s mantra: “Now is the best time to write.

Write. Now.

cat notebook at Kaiser Library, Tulsa, Oklahoma, photo by kristin nador

Write. Now.

So I’m signed up on the official NaNo site. (Be my buddy here.) I’ve been prepping the details of the story I’ll be working on. I will write 50,000 words and be a ‘winner’. Some of the words might be crappy. I’ll have a messy first draft. That’s what revision is for. I need to finish something.

But here’s also what I won’t do. Make another writer feel bad for not participating. This is where I’m at and what I need at this time in my writing journey.

If you aren’t at a place where you feel you need it, don’t do it. Don’t feel guilted into it. Don’t jump into NaNo uninformed and unprepared just because you know all your writing buds are doing it, and wouldn’t you look silly if you didn’t and you’re reading all kinds of blogs about how ‘everyone’ is doing NaNoWriMo. Because if your reasons for doing NaNo aren’t really for you, you won’t stick with it, you’ll get frustrated, or quit when you write yourself into a corner, and you’ll feel worse about your writing abilities than you did before you started. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

I intend to exit NaNoWriMo with a finished first draft of my contemporary suspense novel that I have been working on in small bits and pieces for over a year, and a greater strength of self-discipline. I’m not going to worry about ‘what-ifs’ but I am going to do my very best. And that’s all anyone can do.

If you’re going to be joining the ranks of NaNoWriMo-ites this November, best of luck to you. I’m listing some good resources for any last-minute prepping advice you’d like to get in the links below. I’ll be reporting in with a blog post at the end of the first week, at the mid-point, and in the aftermath. I’d love to hear how you are doing as well.

If you aren’t going to be doing NaNoWriMo this November, best of luck to you as well. Keep calm and write on. Tell me how you’re doing, too. Would you like to help develop some writing self-discipline without surrendering your entire November? There’s some non-NaNo sites that encourage good writing habits in the links. Check them out.

And if you find some magic self-discipline elixir out there made from unicorn hiccups or some such, let me know. I think for me, like everyone else, it comes down to plain old butt-in-chair, show up and write. W-O-R-K. Darn. I thought the book would just float out of my brain and onto the paper…

If you are doing NaNo (or just want good pre-novel writing preps) you might want to check out some of these resources:

Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds (some NWFW language)

Kristen Lamb’s Blog

Alexandra Sokoloff – Screenwriting Tricks for Authors

Medium Roast

Jami Gold

The Chipper Muse

The Write Practice

5 Reasons Why You Should Do NaNoWriMo by Rebekah Loper at Natasha Hanova, Writer of YA Paranormal

The #NaNoWriMo Checklist from Writing Is Hard Work

NaNo Twitter Hashtags to Follow:

If you’d like to find some non-NaNo-related activities to help build writing discipline check out these links:

Twitter Hashtags to Follow:

Do you have any tips for writing consistently? Will you be joining NaNoWriMo this year?