Winning by the Seat of My Pants

National Novel Writing Month 50,000 words in 30 days. Not as easy as one might think but it is possible!

I did it! (And now you know where I was last month. ) This was the hardest year but not for the reasons you would think. Last year I ended with 46,000 words. I was frantically typing at 11:40 and I knew that there was no way I could get 4000 words written in twenty minutes. I was incredibly disappointed in myself for not working harder.

This year I went into my 11th year of participating with a determination to finish….more than any previous year. I couldn’t get over last year’s defeat and I could only see it as a defeat no matter how hard I tried to change my attitude. So that was it. I was going to write those 50,000 no matter what.

I faced the normal obstacles- carving out time to write, having an idea, characters, etc, and life.

Time. This was always my downfall- even in years when I wasn’t feeling creative juices flowing. It turns out I can babble on about nothing forever….. But putting my writing first, before all of my people who are having such a difficult time this year- that was something I hadn’t been able to do even during the best of times. This year when my husband said “Go write” I did! And when my middle kid/fellow Nano participant, Kris, asked if I wanted to do word sprints, I did! It was difficult to put aside my usual behaviors and take the time I needed.

Characters, plot, setting. The day before Nanowrimo began I still had not nailed down the plot. It was loose. Very loose and vague. I had characters, some of which never grew into real people. They are sitting undeveloped and flat as a piece of paper still. The only thing I knew was the setting. But I powered through. One of my issues has been my unwillingness to write out of order. The minute I write something before it comes in the story or add a chapter that will fit in between two chapters already written, I stumble. It throws me off and I can’t seem to find my footing. I decided if I was going to DO THIS, I needed to set my uneasiness aside and write out of order. I was also strict with sticking to the story and not putting things in there that could be removed later. Instead this year I did character building exercises to flesh out my main characters. I added research about the setting that can be worked into the story if I start the second draft. I gave myself some wiggle room- something I’ve come to notice I don’t do much for myself.

Life. Well, life always seems to get in the way, doesn’t it? Even when we are just sitting here having a pandemic it still happens. This is the one obstacle I struggled with the most and definitely need to fine tune moving forward.

Finally- Pantsing. I’m usually much more organized than I was this year. Pantsing to the extent that I did took a real leap of faith. It did teach me that out of all the obstacles I put in my own way, I definitely need more planning. And with more planning all of my obstacles would definitely be much smaller if not completely gone. I AM NOT A PANTSER!

So there you have it! Don’t be looking for my first bestseller to be hitting the shelves any time soon. Out of my 11 times participating in this contest, this is most definitely the story that will never be anything more than a glorious mess.

If you participated, how did you do?

-Kat

Lessons Learned From NaNoWriMo

NaNo-2018-Congrats

  • Despite writer’s block, walls, road blocks, power outages, and more, it IS possible to write 50,000 words in 30 days. (Whether or not those 50,000 words resemble a coherent novel is another matter!)
  • When the words and ideas are flowing, take advantage of it!
  • Sometimes no matter how much you want to tell a story, you can’t write it until the time is right. 
  • First drafts really ARE crap!
  • For the sake of the NaNo challenge, it is okay to have characters that need developing, holes in your plot big enough to lose a semi in, and no real ending.
  • There are times when writing out of order is necessary to find clarity in your story. 
  • Until you remove real distractions, you don’t realize how distracting they really are. 
  • Characters are complex beings and sometimes they actually behave! (But most often, mine do not!)
  • It’s okay to step away from the screen when you are struggling with the story, as long as it’s not for too long. 
  • Writing daily really is the way to go, even if it’s just a few hundred words. It is the act of sitting down and writing that can keep you on track. 
  • Never underestimate the positive influence of a writing buddy. I couldn’t have gotten through this month without Kris’s constant support!
  • If you don’t reach 50,000 words, you are still a winner. Making the commitment to write 50,000 words in 30 days is daunting and anyone who enters this arena should be commended. If anything, not reaching that goal for six consecutive years made this win all the more satisfying! It reminded me that I CAN do this- even with my crazy every day life interfering!!! 

Congratulations to everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo! Regardless of your word count, you are all winners and should very proud!

-Kat

P.S. I did it! 

15,000 Words

Yesterday’s word count total was 15,000+ in order to achieve success in winning NaNoWriMo and writing 50,000 words in 30 days. If you are participating, you’re probably already aware of this.

To gain perspective I visited the NaNoWriMo website to take a look at my progress over the years. I won the first two years that I participated, writing over 50,000 words both years. From there on out, it was a pretty bumpy ride- 21,000, 9000, 12,000, 5000, 17,000, and 6000. When I look back over those years, I could see that I definitely allowed outside factors to disrupt my writing. To be successful, I truly believe you need to find a healthy balance, understanding that depending on the story, at some point, this will bleed into the far corners of your life and beyond. During the years that I did not finish, there were many emotional roller coasters factoring into my life. I would tell myself it was understandable that I couldn’t finish, considering the circumstances, and the next year I would begin more determined to finish than the year before.

writing desk

My writing place

A comfortable chair, open surface with enough room for my notes (and snacks!) along with a not- too distracting view are the things that work best for keeping me on task. I did find out just minutes ago that popping in a Phantom of the Opera CD that I’m not familiar with is not a great idea as I kept noticing how different it is than the CD that’s currently stuck in my car CD player. 

 

laptop and glasses

My tools of the trade

Writing 50,000 words in 30 days does require some skill. I’ve written using both the planning and the pantsing methods, mostly plantsing, a morphed combination of the two. Mind you, I am 100% planner in my everyday life, so much so that I tend to drive some people in my life bonkers at times. I’m relieved that my planning obsession does not sneak into my writing. If I was tied to a prepared storyline, I’m sure it would hinder my progress. My characters sometimes take on lives of their own and when they decide to head in a different direction than I had planned, it wouldn’t be fun trying to force them into my preconceived ideas of who they were. 

Of course, today is a new day and I have a new goal to reach so I better get typing. Only three weeks to go!

This post is working overtime for the following challenges-

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Tools

Fandango’s One Word Challenge- Disrupt

Pull Up a Seat Photo Challenge

Ragtag Daily Prompt- Skill

Happy Weekend!

-Kat

 

A Post About Nothing

By hook or crook, I steal the time. Sneak off to a calm, quiet place where I am immediately at ease. I scout out the perfect spot. I locate my favorite musician’s music on my phone to insure a successful writing session. I even get the ear buds in the correct ears.

This is no small feat because locating the minuscule L and R imprinted on the sides is nearly impossible and once I make out a speck that could be an L or an R…maybe…I have to squint at it only to find out that it resembles more of a Q! These troublesome eyes!

After a handful of unsuccessful attempts to force the Q to morph into an L or an R, I reach for my reading glasses, which might or might not help me focus. Unfortunately I quickly realize that I left my glasses at home. Sigh.

I give the Q another go and after I close one eye and tilt my head to the left, I can make out the letter. Sure enough, it’s an R!

I secure the ear buds in the correct ears and turn on my music. I have a few anxious moments as I adjust the volume and test it by taking the ear buds out to ascertain that everything is plugged in properly, and that I’m not sharing my favorite trombone music with everyone who came here hoping to find their own peace, and finally that the music is not loud enough to cause that annoying sound that happens when a person’s music leaks out of their headphones, loud enough to be heard as noise but not loud enough to identify the song.

Finally, I’m ready. I ignore the person directly to my right slowly working her way down the shelves of books coming closer and closer to me. I open my journal, click my pen and stare at the blank page.

It is very bright and very blank except for the lines. Although the pages are actually a pale creamy color, they hurt my eyes.

And I sit here listening to a random cough or a rustling sound as the person behind me shifts in his chair. My music is paused because I saw that a text had come from my sister and I forgot to unpause.

The brightness of this page begins to aggravate my eyes and I find myself squinting to cut down on the glare. I look up at the lighting and silently curse my eyes. And the lights. And my inability to focus.

I find myself shielding my eyes. I sigh again.

I decide that this is not working.

I’m three pages and a half hour in and I haven’t written anything yet.