NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 30: Victory

NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 30: Victory

“It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupeny

You now have less than twenty-four hours to get your final word count in, and, yes, going through your manuscript and expand all contractions to their complete parts is a time-honored practice during this final day. Word of warning: I can tell you from experience that it won’t net you as many words as you hope it will.

Today’s the day. Let your mind go and try to write as fast as you can today. A lot of it may be crap, but when you go back and look later, don’t be surprised to find something completely unexpected that might not have otherwise emerged from your writing process.

There’s the true joy and victory of NaNoWriMo and why so many folks come back year after year. For thirty days, we exercise our creativity in community, sharing ups and downs, successes and failure. I see calls go out for character names, pieces of information that might be needed, technical advice when the computers start to get a little wonky, commiseration and support. It is creative action, and it is a joyous thing to behold.

As we reach the end of this year’s NaNoWriMo, let’s treasure not just victory, but the connections we have made with our fellow writers. This is all too often a solitary calling and we need people who understand what it is to have a storyline fall apart or the moment when you are absolutely convinced that every word you are writing is certified, 100% crap. To be a part of this community, even for a little while, is to have the joy of knowing we are not alone.

As we go forth for this last day of literary madness, let’s remember the good times and try to carry it forward with us as we continue to write. The journey isn’t over, friends. We’ve just come to end of this particular portion of the path.

Here’s to a good writing day and hoping that no matter what your word count is, what you’ve created this month has brought you joy.

Word Count Goal: 50,000

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NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 29: Don’t Give Up

NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 29: Don’t Give Up

“Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Don’t sell out.” — Christopher Reeves

We’re going to be done in 48 hours. Come Thursday morning, you’ll wake up and the ticking clock will no longer be hanging over your head. You’ll have no word count to enter on the NaNoWriMo site, and Twitter will be awash with folks breathing a sigh of relief that it’s over and they can relax.

Some of us are, unfortunately, going to wake up that morning with less than 50,000 words. I may be one of them. I’m catching up, but all I need is one bad turn, one thing to keep me from the keyboard (and there’s been plenty of those this month), and I’ll be clocking in just shy of 50,000.

To you who are looking at that very real possibility, I have to say, “Don’t give up.”

You’ve written something this month. It’s more than you had written the morning of November 1. 50,000 words is an arbitrary number, not necessarily the length of a first draft. If you’ve managed to sketch out the major bones of your story, that is absolutely a victory, no matter how many words you’re at. Don’t give up; the bones still need to be fleshed out.

I’ve seen someone on Facebook who had a baby and managed 10,000 words. That’s no small feat, and while she’s not making the word count goal. I’d be loathe to say that she failed under the circumstance. Life is hope, and a new life is a reminder that there are always new dreams to dream.

Some people have spent the month trying to write in trying circumstances, with family who are less than supportive, wondering why attention is taken away from their wants or how they think the world should be run. If you are one of those, don’t give up your dreams. Hold them close, pursue them as hard as you can and build a better world for yourself.

To all of you who have been here to read these words, thank you for coming along on this journey with me. Tomorrow is not the end, but the beginning of the next phase, and no matter where we are with our stories, there is always a new dawn waiting for us if we have faith in ourselves.

Word Count Goal: 48,343

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NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 28: Bounce

NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 28: Bounce

“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” — George S. Patton

The number of folks who are excitedly announcing hitting 50,000 words is increasing. I see it on Facebook, on Twitter, notations under icons on the NaNoWriMo site. To everyone who has crossed the line, congratulations. Take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back — and consider your next step.

For the rest of us, come gather around. Today and tomorrow are for you. We’re getting down to the last hours of NaNoWriMo 2016 and words are frantically being written as we race to that 50,000 word finish. It’s been a long and bumpy road, and as you gather yourself for the final push, take a moment to consider where you were when you started and where you are now. It may not be exactly what you thought you’d have or what you expected, but it is something that didn’t exist when we started.

And if it isn’t what you wanted or what you hoped for, what are you going to do next? November is only one month out of the year. If you don’t win NaNo, or already know it’s a serious possibility that you’ll fall short, what are you going to do next?

We are writers. We write. We write through good times and we try to write through bad times, though there are moments when we have to say, “No, not today.” I saw that from a number of people earlier this month. They stepped away from the keyboard for a day or even a week, but they came back because writing is what they do. I would say bad times call for writing even more desperately than good times because readers need the comfort and inspiration fiction can bring.

So, if you’re looking at the “failure” of not reaching 50,000 words, are you going to just wallow in your own misery or are you going to come back to the keyboard and keep going? I urge you to keep going and look at the words you managed to write in November a beginning, not a finale. Maybe you won’t be able to carve out time in December as you might have been able to in November because of commitments as 2016 draws (thankfully) to a close. But if you keep adding a thousand or five hundred words every day, you will finally type “The End.”

We’re coming to the end of the road for this year. So, how high are you going to try to bounce?

Word Count Goal: 46,676

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NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 27: Choices

NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 27: Choices

“Every day brings new choices” — Martha Beck

Believe it or not, no one is holding a gun to our head and forcing us to write. It may feel like that some times, especially during these last few days of November when we’re facing the impending deadline of November 30. But the choice is ours each day to write or do something else. Early in this month, I made the choice to work the polls, knowing that it would lose me an entire day. A few days, I’ve made the choice, albeit reluctantly, to let the writing go after a hundred words because I was too sick or tired to continue.

We face choices every day, to turn left, to turn right, to say yes, to say no. While we may feel helpless at times, our life is a constant stream of choices, ranging from small to large. The decision to sit down and write is one of those, especially to write when we don’t want to — or when we know it’s difficult. I could tell you about the horror story that was the “family” Thanksgiving meal yesterday, but let’s just say the my choice for Saturday was to write early rather than later and get the day’s words out of the way because I knew I’d be twitchy and annoyed by the time we were finished with the meal.

We make choices within our writing as well, much of which involve how miserable we’re going to make our characters or how hard they’re going to have to work before they get to the ending we’ve planned. We choose which words we use, which words we don’t — and sometimes we choose to let our characters wander off in a direction we know they shouldn’t go because we made a choice to explore those possibilities. Or we’re choosing the path of least resistance because we’re tired, we don’t want to be sitting in front of our computers, but we made a choice to do NaNoWriMo and we’re going to get those words in if it kills us, damn it!

We make the choice to walk away from projects. Sometimes it’s because we don’t have the heart or energy to give what the story demands, but sometimes, it is a deliberate choice because we know that this must wait, that there is something else we need to focus on. At times it’s the demands of jobs or families, but the choice to say, “No, I will leave this for now because I know I need to finish this other project over here within a certain time frame.” That’s what NaNo’s been for me much of this year, wanting to work on one project but knowing I needed to work on another. The final piece of that was drafted this morning. Tomorrow, well, let’s see what choice awaits me.

I post these early West Coast time each day in the hopes my words will provide some inspiration or offer some signposts for the day. I don’t know how much impact they have, but it is my choice to write them because they help me, if no one else.

What choices will you make today?

Word Count Goal: 45,009

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NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 26: Resolved

NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 26: Resolved

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” — Abraham Lincoln

We’re into the “force of will” stage of NaNoWriMo at this point. Even if your work is going well, thirty days can be a long slog. If you’re not used to sitting down and writing something every single day, you might be feeling a certain weariness. Writing can be exhilarating, but it can also be tiring, both physically and mentally. Sadly, it does not burn sufficient calories to count as exercise, but it is still work.

Very often, the only thing that keeps us going is our determination to do something. We have so many roadblocks in our way that if we aren’t determined, we’ll be sidelined into something else because it really is easier to spend the day on the couch than in front of the keyboard. We’re now post-Thanksgiving, so the Holiday season has officially begun, with plenty of demand on our times. While I’ve been doing my best to avoid spending money on line, there are a few things I need to accomplish aside from writing today and tomorrow. Yarn needs to be wound for the Advent Knit-Along I’m participating in beginning December 1, as I really would prefer not to be doing that during the last three days of NaNo. I probably should check and see if I have the correct needles as well. Rather, I should check and make certain I have the correct needles that aren’t already taken up with another project.

But this is still going to take second place to the writing because now that I’m in shouting distance of catching up (less than a thousand words behind at this point), I’m going to do my best to keep up the pace. It’s resolution that’s keeping me going at this point, resolution to not break a multi-year streak of winning NaNoWriMo — and a resolution that I’ll be able to wear the Winner’s t-shirt that’s already come in the mail without feeling like a complete fraud. But, most importantly, my resolve is to keep at the writing, and I hope yours is as well. It’s what we decide we will do and commit to doing with our whole heart that carries us forward to victory.

We’re on the final countdown now. Let’s resolve to make each on of these final days count.

Word Count Goal: 43,432

NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 25: Impossible Dreams

NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 25: Impossible Dreams

“It will always seem impossible until it is done.” — Sam Levenson

And we’re back. I hope yesterday was good for you and that you were able to find time to breathe, if not get your words done. Since we had a relatively low-key celebration, I was able to spend a considerable time at my keyboard with the upshot that it’s starting to look as if I will make it to the 50,000 word mark after all. It’s going to be a squeaker, but I’m going to get there.

A few days ago, it seemed impossible. More than that, the very idea seemed overwhelming. I had one of those wonderful complete and utter meltdowns that writers can be subject to You know the one: “Why am I even trying? What made me think I could write? What stupidity convinced me I could actually get books out?” It wasn’t pretty, it was very stressful, and I was, frankly, ready to hang up the keyboard for the rest of the year and just hide with my knitting.

So I buried myself in the day job (which has work that I’ve brought home this weekend) and did my best not to think about my novel or writing in general. Of course, since I was trying not to think about it, very firmly and resolutely resisting the urge, that was the moment when ideas started to poke at me, say, “Hey. What if…”

I finally made notes in my bullet journal, and that seemed to help enough that I was able to get back to the keyboard. I focused on getting just the words I needed done for that day, plus about 25 more. The next morning, I knew I needed to junk the scene I’d written the day before. File gets moved to the holding pen, and a new scene started to take shape. A better scene, one that twisted one of the tropes I was working with somewhat so it’s not what everyone expects. All of this is still hideously rough, and there will be severe rewrites under a fairly tight deadline since what I’m working with at the moment is scheduled to be published at the beginning of, oh, February, but it’s out of my head and on the page.

That’s the impossible part, really. Not the hitting 50,000 words within a set amount of time or getting your revisions done or submitting a query to an agent or an editor or making your work available on Amazon. No, often times, the impossible act is to get the words out of your head and onto the page because of the roadblocks that we so often place in our own way. We feel out of sorts, so we don’t want to work. We find excuses or obligations, reasons not to write. Sometimes it’s conscious (in which case, consider what’s behind that), but all too often, it’s unconscious self-sabotage.

We are our own worst enemies, beset by doubts and the inner demons that nag at us. But each day we overcome those voices and sit down to do the impossible thing is a victory. Writing is hard; it demands we open up some darker recesses of our imaginations and spill them out of the page, to have characters do things that we would normally shy away from. Writing is very often painful, but having written can be a joy because we know we have striven for something and won.

We have five days left after this. No matter where you are in the process, get some words out of your head and onto the page. Let’s do something impossible today.

Word Count Goal: 41,675

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