Nanowrimo 2017 – the wrap-up edition

Ok, I know that there’s still one day left in November, but Wednesday is my day for writing posts about, well, writing, so we’re wrapping this year’s Nanowrimo …ok?

In case you missed it, I passed my 50,000 word target just after 6am on the morning of the 24th.

me typing the 50,000th word on Friday morning at Mooloolaba

Yes, I’m a nanowrimo winner.

The thing is, anyone who finished November with more words than they started it with is also a winner.

Nanowrimo – the Stats

 

I started slowly, with a grand total of zero words in the first two days. Thankfully I was able to pick the pace up after that and wrote daily until I got to target. That meant an average of 2400 words a day for 21 days.

How I did it?

The same way that I do anything – by planning ahead and doing the head down bum up thing.

There absolutely were challenges. I’m working on a project in my corporate gig at the moment that has meant some travel to Sydney to familiarise myself with a process that I’ve to date managed to avoid needing to be familiar with.

In the middle was also a long weekend in Wellington, New Zealand visiting with friends, plus I had to get all the family Christmas shopping done ready for our daughter to take to Sydney with her today.

Plus, of course, there was normal life.

Alongside those challenges though, were opportunities.

Some rainy mornings helped my writing – but not my fitness. I’d still get up at the same time, but write before work rather than go for a walk.

I worked pretty much anywhere – in bed at night, in my lunch break, waiting for flights, on flights – and made the most of the days I wasn’t at my desk doing corporate-ish things. On those days I’d take myself out of the house for a few hours at a time – I have a few favourite places to write at that I’ll tell you about another time – order a coffee, sometimes brekky,  and just write.

What now?

To be honest, I haven’t written a word in the manuscript since last Friday – and don’t intend to until December 1.

I have another 30,000 or so words to write before this is a passable first draft, and my goal is to finish that before Christmas. To do this I’ll set the same target of 1667 words per day – starting from December 1. If anyone else wants to play along, I’d love to hear from you.

What have I been doing with all of my writing time in the interim?

I’ve updated this site with links to travel posts that have previously been published on and anyways.

I’ve organised the web “pages” so it’s easier to navigate, with links from a single picture rather than having to plow through reams of words. There’s still more to do, but it’s looking ok.

What else? I’ve written and scheduled some content for the astro site which had been sadly neglected during my writing blitz, and also started doing some planning around production deadlines for 2018. I’ll share some of that with you over the coming weeks as we close out the year that was.

Did you do nanowrimo? If so, how did you go? Are you finishing November with more words than you started with?

 

 

Nanowrimo: Week 3 Update

words flying out of laptop nanowrimo

words flying out of laptop nanowrimo

So here we are, November 22, the start of Week 3 of Nanowrimo.

How am I going? If you follow my Facebook or instagram page you’d know that I’m doing more than alright.

I’d worked hard last week to get myself into a position where I’d be ahead of the game so that even if my weekend away in Wellington took the toll on my writing that I expected that it would, I would still be in an okay position.

The weekend ended up being the perfect blend of catching up, eating, drinking and touristing. I’ll tell you more tomorrow in the Lovin’ Life linky, but I mentioned to my bestie (and not for the first time) that I really do need to find the right story to showcase Wellington. It truly is one of my favourite cities.

Anyways, to the word count…

Nanowrimo word count

  • 15/11/17 2287
  • 16/11/17 2252
  • 17/11/17 1306
  • 18/11/17 1757
  • 19/11/17 3052
  • 20/11/17 2196
  • 21/11/17 2800

As at the beginning of Day 22 I’m sitting on a total of 44,123, which is a very comfortable total to be sitting on. I’m hoping to nail the 50k by Friday.

How have I managed it?

I’ll be brutally honest – the weather has been on my side. What’s the weather got to do with it? Simple – it’s been raining so I haven’t been up walking. I have, however, left my alarm on and been writing instead.

I’ve been doing the same in the afternoons after I log off from work – and again  when I go to bed.

I wrote at the airport on Thursday morning and again before my flight home on Sunday afternoon. I wrote on the plane – as best I could – and I’ve even managed 30 minutes here or there in the time I allocate as my lunch “hour” from the corporate gig.

Last weekend we had a couple of hours here and there where I dragged my laptop out, one time writing in front of an episode of UK X Factor, and another where I wrote in the sun on my friend’s deck. Just how beautiful a spot is this?

It’s meant that I’ve managed my words with my day job and my social life, but other things have had to be compromised – like TV and doing faff all. Not that it matters – it’s just one month.

What else have I let slip? I haven’t buckled down and finished the proofread or the blurb for I Want You Back, written any more of Tiff’s story or updated the content on my astro blog during November. I’ll get back into all of that in December.

What about the story?

It still feels as though it’s working. My characters created a twist the other day that I really didn’t see coming. I have no idea how I’ll write my way out of that one when it comes to tying it all together, but I’ll think about that over the next 30,000 words or so.

Given that this story is about grown-ups with grown-up problems, I’ve had to do some research as well – mainly about family law. I’ve told my husband to ignore any internet history that he finds a tad questionable. It’s something else that I’ll need to layer more through the next draft.

The plan for this week?

The finish line is in sight – 50,000 words – however I’m intending to keep going at the same pace with a view to having the first draft of this written by Christmas. The way it’s coming together that’s perfectly doable. Besides, it’s the perfect creative outlet after a day spent working on a project that, to put it mildly, is not filling me with inspiration…but that’s our little secret.

How about you? How is your word total going for November?

Why you should write a novel in November

So anyways, November is around the corner…and if November is around the corner, so too is NaNoWriMo. Nano wtf? National Novel Writing Month.

Essentially the challenge is to, along with a few hundred thousand other people, get 50,000 words out of your head and onto a page – or a laptop -during the month of November. It’s a bit like a novel writing marathon.

By the end of November, our poor little novel writer’s wrists are burning, our eyelids need propping open, our body fluids have been gradually replaced by copious amounts of caffeine or alcohol, and most of us have hit a wall at some point through the process. In our case the “wall” isn’t extreme physical exhaustion (although it can be) – more often it’s a blank screen, or page.

The hardest part of the process by far is fitting writing a novel in around life – because, as we know, it doesn’t stop just because we’ve committed to writing a novel. For those of us with kids, November is the time of the year where end of year exams and end of year performances and presentation nights all start to fill up the calendar. In addition, most of us have jobs and other responsibilities. We don’t have time to add writing a novel to that list. Do we?

So, if it’s that flipping hard, why do we do it? To be honest, asking a writer that question is a little like asking a marathoner why they lace up the trainers to put their bodies through 42kms of pain, or asking a climber why they do Everest. The answer is simple – because it’s a challenge and it’s there.

I’ve done it most years since 2009. Each of my novels has started life during Nanowrimo. Baby, It’s You and Big Girls Don’t Cry were both managed while I had a full time job – with large chunks written in hotel rooms and airports during office relocation projects – and all the things that go along with being a Mum with a (then) school age child. The bulk of Wish You Were Here was written during nanowrimo in 2015 – even though I was on a road trip through Britain for the 2nd half of November.

I even signed up last year – even though I knew that I’d be on Milford Track with access to no technology for a week of the month. The first 30,000 words of I Want You Back came from that.

Should you enter? Yes. Especially if:

  • You’ve been talking about writing a book someday for ever and flipping ever
  • You’ve got a story in your head that needs to escape
  • You like a good graph

Need more convincing?

  • 50,000 words isn’t a full novel (unless you’re writing novellas, category romance or children’s books), but it’s a bloody good start.
  • It’s a great way to take a new idea for a test flight. By 50,000 words you’re going to know whether it’s got legs and, if it doesn’t, you’ve only wasted one month. In my view, that’s an efficient outcome.
  • It doesn’t need to be a novel. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about a non fiction project, a memoir, a collection of short stories or poems, a screenplay.
  • It never needs to be seen by anyone other than yourself. The book I wrote in 2009 was vaguely semi semi autobiographical shite. It will never be published – although I have used parts of it in everything I’ve written since. I’d had it in my head for so long that writing it down allowed all the other stories that had been waiting their turn behind it in my brain to come tearing out. (I think my brain is a tad like an air traffic control tower.) Anyways, that character – my runaway astrologer Alice – has her own story that I’ll be writing this year. And no, it’s no longer even vaguely semi semi autobiographical. Except for the astrologer bit.
  • It’s one month where you can experiment with different genres, different voices. Again, if it doesn’t work, you’ve only wasted a month. The year I drafted Big Girls Don’t Cry, I experimented with writing as if it were a project plan ie from the end backwards. The year I wrote Baby, It’s You, I wrote to a playlist. I wrote 3 different viewpoints in I Want You Back. Because it is only a month, you can try out different techniques to get you through the wall, through the saggy middle, and to have a little fun with the process.
  • Even if you don’t get to 50,000 words, you’ll have more words at the end of November than you did at the beginning.
  • It’s great training. To be a writer you have to get in the habit of writing – every day.
  • If you’re a plotter or edit as you go, this is a great opportunity to just let the words flow. See what happens. No edits – not until December 1.
  • You get to see the graph on the nano site. It’s a great graph.
  • With nanowrimo, there’s no escape, no catch-ups. If you’ve been struggling to establish a writing habit, I can’t think of a better way to do it.

Am I entering this year? Absolutely. I have Alice’s story – or the The Book After The Book That’s After I Want You Back – to tell. It’s the last in my Melbourne Girls series and will tie up any loose ends – all the way back to Baby, It’s You.

If you’re up for it, you can sign up at the official site. You’ll find forums, events, cool widgets for your blog, emails of encouragement and a cast of hundreds of thousands of other people doing it with you. I’m Astrojo, so if you’re signing up, come follow me.

Finding time to write: 5 tips to beat the excuses…

Feather pen set of abstract color

Tomorrow is November 1, ie the official start to nanowrimo.

Just lately, I’ve spoken to a few people who’ve said things like:

‘I SO want to do this. Like, seriously, really want to do this- but I just don’t have time. I have a job, you know.’

Or

‘I’m ready this year, but November is when the shit starts to hit the fan with school stuff.’

Or

‘I don’t know how people manage it. I have a family, and a job. I really want to do it- I know there’s a book in me- but I simply don’t have time.’

Here’s the thing- I know. I know all of this. I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy – in our own ways. Sometimes I think busy-ness is a competitive sport.

I have a family and work a stressful full-time job too. I’m out the door at 6.30am, and back home by 7pm. In the meantime, I have a heavy blogging schedule with the astro site, and like to keep regular posts happening on and anyways and here too. My house still needs cleaning, and clothes need washing, and shirts need ironing, and gardens need weeding, and social lives need arranging. There’s always something that has to be done. A couple of hours to sit down and write can seem like a guilty pleasure.

I used to say that I’d like to run a marathon. I said it so often that I had to enter a 10km event. Twice. Then it hit me that I didn’t really want to run a marathon- I didn’t really want to run at all. I hated it- so much I can’t put the words around it. Emily’s story in Baby, It’s You, is mine (well, the running bit is)- except that it took me longer to declare that I was never ever ever running again. Ever. A nice walk would suit me perfectly well.

The same analogy goes for writing a book. You might have been saying for years that you want to write a book. The experience of nano could help you decide if long distance writing is really for you. Or it will help you get it out of your system and convince you that the literary equivalent of a nice walk is more your style.

If you really (and I mean really) want to do nanowrimo, but have no idea how you’re going to fit it in, try these tips:

You don’t need to write 50,000 words

That’s right. You don’t. Any words you do write will be more than you had last month. Set yourself a session goal. It could be 500 words, it could be 1667…it could be somewhere in between. It’s all ok. This month I will be completely off the grid for 5 days when I’m tramping Milford Sound, and a further 3 days in the Victorian High Country. The likelihood of me making 50,000 words is slim – but, then again, I said that last year too.

Schedule your writing time

Get your calendar out and mark in all your commitments- places that you know you have to be. Be honest, and be realistic.

Maybe you can manage a half an hour in the morning before the kids get up and all hell breaks loose, or an hour at night after they go to bed. You might choose to fit it in on a weekend, or get together with friends for a marathon writing session.

However you schedule it, keep to it.

What’s my routine?

I tend to exercise first thing in the morning- at least a few mornings a week – so my alarm goes off at 4.45am. During November, I’ll use that hour to write and walk at lunchtime instead. I usually manage to write for an hour or so (in bed) each night. I write at the hairdressers, I scribble in my journal in the 15-20 mins I have every morning between getting off the bus and meeting my BMF for coffee. I grab every single minute I can.

I try and get next weeks blog posts done and scheduled on Friday evening and Saturday mornings before whatever maintenance appointment needs keeping. It’s mad, but it means I can spend time with my family on the weekend, and get my real writing done over the time that’s left.

Yes, it’s chaotic, and busy and all the rest of that, but I figure that one day (hopefully in the not too distant future) this will be my full-time job and I won’t need to fit a corporate role around it. In the meantime, I’m prepared to do what it takes to get there.

Schedule your down-time

You have to. Getting out for a walk, or a coffee or whatever will help keep the creative juices flowing- and ensure you stay sane. I tend to write to a playlist, so when I’m stuck, that music and a ramble often gets it all flowing again. If you want to stay inspired while you’re walking, podcasts are a great idea.

Limit your TV

Yes, yes, yes…but it’s only for 30 days. You can catch up on your favourite shows later. I tend to allow myself an hour a night. The same applies to internet.

Be kind to yourself

You don’t need to make like Superwoman. It’s ok if there’s a dust bunny in the corner, or a weed in the vegie patch, or leftovers for dinner or that New Moon post and newsletter. It’s ok to ask for help, and it’s ok to stand in the middle of the room when you get home and scream…or is that just me?

So, how about it? Are you in?

How to write a novel in a month – or why you should do nanowrimo

istock_000030734864small

So anyways, November is around the corner…and if November is around the corner, so too is NaNoWriMo.

Nano wtf? National Novel Writing Month.

Essentially the challenge is to, along with a few hundred thousand other people, get 50,000 words out of your head and onto a page, or a laptop during the month of November. It’s a bit like a marathon for writers.

By the end of November, our poor little writer’s wrists are burning, our eyelids need propping open, our body fluids have been gradually replaced by copious amounts of caffeine or alcohol, and most of us have hit a wall at some point through the process. In our case the “wall” isn’t extreme physical exhaustion (although it can be)- more often it’s a blank screen, or page.

The hardest part of the process by far is fitting in the writing around life- because it doesn’t stop. For those of us with kids, we all know that November is the time of the year where end of year exams and end of year performances and presentation nights all start to fill up the calendar. In addition, most of us have jobs and other responsibilities.

So, if it’s that flipping hard, why do we do it? To be honest, asking a writer that question is a little like asking a marathoner why they lace up the trainers to put their bodies through 42kms of pain, or asking a climber why they do Everest. The answer is simple- because it’s a challenge and it’s there.

I’ve done it most years since 2009. Baby, It’s You started life at Nano, so too did Big Girls Don’t Cry. The bulk of Wish You Were Here was written during nanowrimo last year- even though I was on a road trip through Britain for the 2nd half of November.

Should you enter? Yes. Especially if:

  • You’ve been talking about writing a book someday for ever and flipping ever
  • You’ve got a story in your head that needs to escape
  • You like a good graph

Need more convincing?

  • 50,000 words isn’t a full novel (unless you’re writing novellas, category romance or children’s books), but it’s a bloody good start.
  • It’s a great way to take a new idea for a test flight. By 50,000 words you’re going to know whether it’s got legs and, if it doesn’t, you’ve only wasted one month. In my view, that’s an efficient outcome.
  • It’s one month where you can experiment with different genres, different voices. Again, if it doesn’t work, you’ve only wasted a month. The year I drafted Big Girls Don’t Cry, I experimented with writing as if it were a project plan ie from the end backwards. The year I wrote Baby, It’s You, I wrote to a playlist. Because it is only a month, you can experiment with different techniques to get you through the wall, through the saggy middle and to have a little fun with the process.
  • Even if you don’t get to 50,000 words, you’ll have more words at the end of November than you did at the beginning.
  • It’s great training. To be a writer you have to get in the habit of writing- every day
  • If you’re a plotter or edit as you go, this is a great opportunity to just let the words flow. See what happens. No edits…not until December 1.
  • You get to see the graph on the nano site. It’s a great graph.
    With nanowrimo, there’s no escape, no catch-ups. If you’ve been struggling to establish a writing habit, I can’t think of a better way to do it.

I wasn’t going to enter this year- I’ll be on Milford Track with no access to technology for one week of the month- plus we’re probably putting our house on the market in November too. Somehow though, I can’t seem to help myself. I’m playing around with plotting this time around- and am back to setting my scenes to music. It’s a bit of fun.

If you’re up for it, you can sign up at the official site. You’ll find forums, events, cool widgets for your blog, emails of encouragement and a cast of hundreds of thousands of other people doing it with you.