NaNo Thoughts (WIPMarathon #10)



High-fives for everyone who worked on NaNo this year and came out victorious — and by victorious, I mean, got words down and learned a thing or two. I wrote over 50k on a first draft that I began earlier this year (but set aside to work on edits), and learned that I can crank out, on average, 1200 words in 30 minutes, if I have even a vague game plan for the scene(s). I have the wonderful Susan Dennard and her hashtag #NaNoDaydreamers to thank, big time. Somehow, knowing that there are others out there all “sprinting” together for half-hour chunks gets me pumping out words faster than if I’m sitting alone. Even with a timer, it’s not the same as writing alongside others. And a big shout-out to my encouraging, inspiring writer buddy Jody Neil Ruth for being an AMAZING sprint partner, and keeping me on my toes! (“Let us go forward together” :).

Writing does NOT have to be a solitary event!

This is my 4th NaNo but I think this year has really driven home that statement to me. Particularly as this has been a very difficult year for me, personally, and just recently, the Scotsman has pointed out that I don’t have the feedback and the recognition for what I do that I used to have. I’m not currently working outside the home, and I’m no longer at university. At uni, I thrived on feedback from the lecturers. Probably in an unhealthy way, I’m the first to admit, but that pushed me to do the best job possible. Decent jobs gave me the same feedback, and for better or for worse, I thrive off it. Even if it’s just a monosyllabic acknowledgement that I did something. I can’t lie; I miss it.

Unfortunately, when I’m sitting in my home office and have no such “boss” or authority figure handing out deadlines and feeding back to me, the stress and anxiety piles on. I love my stories, and writing is what I feel most passionate about doing, and has been for a long time. I’m so grateful for my amazing, hard-working CPs. But at this point, I’m still agent-less, and only CPs, betas, and friends are reading my work. It’s very hard to feel I’ve accomplished much at the end of the day, each day, even if I’ve written 5k+ and feel on fire with my character or the latest plot twist. I *do* write for me; the stories I write are stories I’d want to read. So don’t get me wrong — I get a LOT of satisfaction out of it. But I’ve just recently realized that there is that feedback, that professional interaction, that I’m missing. I’m a people pleaser, and I’m thrilled if my stories make me happy, but I dream of a point where they’re making other people happy, too, just as the stories that come into my life bring me joy and entertainment, thought-provoking concepts and beautiful prose, and characters who feel like friends.

I’ve learned during NaNO 2014 that I not only write better while writing “alongside” others, I feel better.

. . . To that end, I’m looking for another CP to work with — preferably someone who loves Tolkien, all kinds of SFF, and reads widely in other genres. If anyone knows anyone who’s looking for another CP/beta to befriend, please let me know 🙂

On to WIPMarathon!

Last report wordcount + chapter count/scene count: Oh gosh. I haven’t done this in MONTHS. Like I said. Crazy year. Before November, I had about 23,000 on the current WIP.

Current report WC + CC/ SC: Thanks to NaNo, I now have over 73,000 words on this WIP! Now, I need to aim for this *every* month.

WIP Issues This Month: No biggies, surprisingly! Since I already knew where the first 3/4 of the story was going, I was able to sit down with an idea for a scene and pound it out. I did realize that I spent a lot of the day THINKING about writing, and then when I sit down, like I said, I write about 1200-1300 in a half hour. It’s rarer that I sit down for 3 hours and write 5k, but I did it a few times. I’d like to be able to do it more.

Four things I learned this month in writing:

1) I draft easier when I feel part of a team/group. Not because we’re competing, but because I know we all want to do our best, and I don’t feel so alone.
2) Simply put, I CAN crank out 5k in a day, when I know where the scene is going. Even if just the most basic idea.
3) Writing dialogue is where it’s at for understanding characters. As DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE author Laini Taylor put it,

“Dialogue is the place that books are most alive and forge the most direct connection with readers. It is also where we as writers discover our characters and allow them to become real. Get them talking.”

4) First drafts are for the writer; subsequent drafts are for others. So use the first draft to figure it all out, and wait until the revisions to worry whether it will all make sense to the reader.

What distracted me this month while writing: Nothing I want to bring y’all down with here. Suffice it to say December will be much better, and 2015 will be AMAZING. So much to be thankful for.

Goal for next month: Finish the first draft of A SIGHT OF NEVERSEA!

Have a great rest of your Thanksgiving weekend, my fellow Americans! <3

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15 thoughts on “NaNo Thoughts (WIPMarathon #10)

  1. I enjoyed being a part of NaNoWriMo with you this year. Thanks for the fun! I am so glad you and I could finish our goals ahead of time. Good luck on your future writing endeavors and in your personal life! You know you’ve got me on your support team. 🙂

  2. Go you! Congratulations!
    1200 words in 30 minutes?! OMG! I would love that so much! I average about 1500 words an hour if I know where the scene is going.

    That is SO true about dialogue. I love dialogue! I noticed a couple of times this month I almost got carried away with it, but it was awesome. ^_^ And yeah, about the drafts, it is so SO true. First draft is to get the story out. The rest comes later.

    Have the best of times with the rest of this draft and best of luck with it next year!!

    1. The thing is, any other time but NaNo I don’t seem to average such times, so I really think I need to treat EVERY month like November! And yeah, I totally got carried away a few times with dialogue and probably did some, “As you know, Bob”-type scenarios, but I’m hopeful I can pull out some gems from all the talking heads 🙂

  3. I totally understand the constant need for feedback.. And I absolutely agree with your point about dialogue. That’s probably why dialogue is my favorite thing to write.

    1. I used to really struggle with feeling free to write it… It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of things for the characters to say, but it felt restrictive rather than freeing, which I’m thankful it feels like now 🙂

  4. Congrats on winning NaNo! This is all so true – I thrive on feedback, probably too much, and as I’m not yet agented, it can often be hard to recognise my own hard work, especially on days when the words aren’t coming! I write so much more when I know where the scene’s going, too – thinking time is so important!

    I’m absolutely swamped over the next couple of weeks, but I’m always open for more betas/CP’s (I love all things SFF and will read pretty much everything!) if you’re still looking for someone. 🙂

    1. Thank you! And also, wow, thanks for the offer for CP/beta work! I may very well take you up on this offer. When I get my current WIP through a 2nd draft, I would love to swap with you! And yeah, I think I’m really missing the university setting where I was given an assignment, I busted my ass on it, and I got feedback to help me improve but also show me what I did well. I feel a bit guilty that I kinda am craving that right now. But I also know that when I’ve done writing I’m proud of, I feel good about putting my feet up at the end of the day 😉

  5. YAY! Congrats on your NaNo win!

    *hugs* I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough year, and I know it’s so very frustrating when your body won’t cooperate.

    I had the same realization this NaNo (despite it being my ump-teenth one to participate in, and my 5th year ML-ing) about writing better when I’m doing it with other people. I have a good circle of friends for probably the first time in my life, and while all of them are writers to some extent we’re all also working toward different goals and are at different stages of the writing journey, so it still does feel lonely at times.

    On that note, I would be more than interested in CP/betaing with you! I, er, think I more than meet the “loves Tolkien” criteria. I enjoy fantasy more than SF, but I do enjoy quite a bit of SF still. I’m working on reading outside of my favored genre(s) more, but I will admit that is my weak point currently. I read very little fantasy for the first seventeen years of my life, though, so I feel like I’ve just been catching up there, lol.

    1. Thanks, Rebekah! I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling … well.. alone, when it comes to writing. I’m SO grateful for the people I’ve met online and the CPs and writer buddies I have because I honestly think I’d have gone insane by now otherwise. But still, it’s hard when you can’t be with them in person.

      I would love to take you up on the betaing/CP offer! Once I’ve finished the first draft of my current WIP and have had a pass through, I’d be ready to swap anything! It might be sometime in January when that comes about but I’ll let you know! I’d love to read whatever you’d have ready 😀

  6. I am so, so late in chiming in, but way to go Cheyenne! I am AMAZED by the numbers you put out. Seriously, it takes me a year to do what you did.

    You said you want your work to be read by others…have you considered SPing? I know it’s not ideal for people who really want to go the traditional route (and definitely not as validating as having an outside publisher give you a contract) but you can always SP first, then continue to send your novel out to agents and traditional publishers. At least while you’re waiting for a book deal, your work is still being enjoyed.

    1. Never late! And thank you — it usually takes me so long to get moving, but this NaNo has taught me that once I *DO*, the words start spilling out. I think it’s all about the right circumstances, like having the idea even 50% formed, and writing even just a sentence or two before sitting down to write the scene, so I know what I’m aiming for. It’s wonderful to feel like I might be getting the hang of this writing thing (after about 10 years, LOL).

      I haven’t considered SPing to be honest…but that’s not to say I won’t, for sure. I think I would finish my current WIP and try to approach agents with it before going the SP route because I’m loving it as much as I love my last manuscript. But it’s always a possibility, and I don’t like to rule anything out. We shall see!

  7. A SIGHT OF NEVER SEA is such a great title! I would pick it just by the name alone. I feel one of the reasons I haven’t made much progress with writing is my lack of sprinting these days, so I’m totally with you on that. I can’t wait for my exam vibes to blow over so I can get back to a significant word count in a month kind of writing again.
    And I would totally love to beta for you once I’m more settled, which unfortunately might still take a couple of months because of the other exams I would have to write next year.
    But what can I say, much of life is persistence, so hang in there until you get what you’re looking for. Much of life is all about hanging in there.
    So much love, and hope your writing speed fires on this month. xx

  8. Oh, you did NaNo too (Hey, I also see a familiar face over there – Waves at Bekah ;-))

    It was my ninth time this year, and I totally feel like you, I like the feeling of doing something together with other writers, it’s awesome. But although I met and passed the 50k goal, I didnt’ feel completely satisfied because I didn’t do as much as I wanted on the revison of my WIP (130k words). I’m still working on it, hoping to finish by the end of the year.

    Talking of which… Talkien fan? fantasy enthusiast? Working on a speculative story? I am definitely interested in swaping novels for beta reading, especially since it looks like we’ll be ready at the same time. So if yo want… 😉

    1. NINE TIMES?!? Wow!! Congratulations, that’s amazing!! Best of luck on finishing your WIP — how did it go? Beta reading sounds great, I’ll contact you! 🙂 Thanks again for stopping by!

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