My (Not-So-)Secret Weapons For Surviving NaNoWriMo

So, confession time. It’s Monday, which means I post here (usually). I had an idea for a grand POST TO END ALL POSTS about NaNo and surviving and EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW, IN ONE HANDY POST. Unfortunately, I’ve neither written it, nor have I taken my own advice and gotten prepared for NaNo yet, PLUS I realized that most of my tips are… well… in previous posts?

Therefore! I will mention a handful of new things I’ve discovered that help, and then leave you to peruse my previous NaNo posts (linked at end) for further tips, if you’re so interested.

Because we’re a half a month away from NaNo (WHAAT???) and I’ll be honest: I’m not ready.

I’m so, so not ready.

I need to go spend my time prepping for NaNo, plotting my novel, and trying to conquer my several-miles-long to-do-list. IN TWO WEEKS, MIGHT I ADD. *tries not to collapse and curl up and hide behind a tapestry* Rehashing all the stuff I’ve said about NaNo in previous posts is, sadly, not going to help with that. XD

ANYWAY! Behold, a few of my recently discovered (since my previous posts) not-so-secret weapons for conquering NaNo!

Tools in My NaNo Toolkit

Time

(pinterest)

Time is your enemy during NaNo (TICKING DOWN TO THE END NOOOO) but it can also be your friend.

How?

Well, I’m a long-time advocate of wordwarring (with friends, and with oneself on a timer), but also: during this last Camp NaNo, I discovered the magic of setting a timer for an hour and focusing on writing just for that time. Can take a break afterward, but focusing NOW. Just for an hour.

I can usually write 1K in an hour, which means (theoretically; hear my story laughing at me. XD) it should be a couple of hours per day, yes? *cough*Leavemetomydelusions.*cough*

Make time your ally: use it with timers and word-sprints and chunks of writing time for focusing.

Make it work FOR you.

Scrivener

Screenshots for this year (below, top) and last year’s NaNo (below, bottom)

SCRIVENER IS MAGIC, OKAY. I used it last year and it. was. amazing. I hate buying software and stuff because I’m cheap and like free things, but I tried it free for a month during NaNo last year and loved it so much I got it (half-off with a NaNo coupon).

The plotting and organizing features give me life, and having a word-count goal set on each individual chapter/section/day was SO helpful — and the fluidity of being able to merge or separate them at will was amazing. I also utilized the full-screen writing mode to lessen distractions, and loved to make it a slightly-smaller window to write in, with a small window of my browser open in another part of the screen, showing the counting-down wordsprint tool on the NaNo site. 😀 SO motivational!

All the planning

This one is both old and new. I’m keeping notes in a dedicated-journal just for this project, which is helpful/inspiring. The journal and the scrivener are the new things, but planning is SUPER IMPORTANT. Unless you’re a pantser, in which case I salute your bravery. I reeeally need to do a braindump scribbling-down of all my ideas (so many scenes and things in my head!) and then organize those and make an outline… But anyhow. Plot plot plot!

Bullet Journal to stay organized

Please note, I keep an “ugly” bullet-journal, which is to say, I don’t make mine a work of art and I don’t actually “journal” much (like talk about what I did; I just mark stuff off).

It’s like a daily/weekly/monthly/planner thing which I use with bullet-points of to-do-lists and things going on, and I usually plan it out a week or a month in advance.

I’ve done stuff like this before, but this is the first time I’ve had an actual bjournal (my abbreviation) to do it with.

I have a page or two of to-do lists for October, and will have one for November. I have a page for a to-do list for each week. And I have a page for every day, with info at the top about stuff going on, and a to-do list. Also daily trackers in a list on one page for keeping track of stuff I should do every day and don’t want to rewrite over and over, and a calendar list so I can keep track of what’s going on.

It doesn’t have to be fancy (in fact, please don’t try!) but both for pre-NaNo-prep, and for NaNo itself, it’s very handy to keep track of stuff!

NaNo runs at an insane pace, and I’m seriously going to need this in order to keep life/writing/ML-ing straight. Not to mention daily wordcount goals listed each day… 😉

Draft Zero

Last but not least: Draft Zero.

I SERIOUSLY need to do a post about this, but it’s basically getting the story down in its most basic form. It’s a mix of extreme plotting (but super vague too? It’s hard to explain) and very rough first-draft. It kind of bridges drafting and outlining so that I can Howl* myself into writing without actually writing, and then it’s easy to expand into a real first-draft.

I have so far only done this in segments — like a scene or chapter at a time (often out of order) and then expand it. I used it especially for the ending of my short story Darkling Reflections (actually the last third of it) and my novella The Rose and the Raven. Super helpful.

I WILL post about it someday, but basically don’t worry about spelling/punctuation/sentences; just write down what happens in brief bullet-point order (dialog included!) and throw in descriptions/whatever, whenever you feel like it. Basically give yourself permission to make a mess on the page.

I may try to do this for NaNo, or I may just do it each day as my outline-plotting before turning each chapter into a first-draft chapter day by day. Not sure yet. Either way, it’s my biggest secret weapon, and with it in my toolkit, NaNo-doubt doesn’t have a chance. 😉

*Apologies for those who don’t understand this Howl’s Moving Castle reference. It derives from a quote Howl said about being a coward — and the only way he can trick himself into doing things is pretending he’s NOT doing them. I’m very Howl-ish and am a slitherer-outer. XD

***

And there you have my 5 new tips. Thank goodness I only did five because otherwise this post would be enormous. XD

I hope these tips (and the ones below) help you. But you know what? Even if you don’t have tools or secret weapons, even if you’re not prepared for NaNo… you can still do this. If you have a story you want to tell, then that is all you need.

All you REALLY need is to show up each day in November at the screen (or pen/paper) and look in your heart and write.

You’ve got this, writer! I believe in you! Now get out there and conquer this NaNo. 🙂

Check out more tips below. ^_^ THANKS FOR READING, AND GOOD LUCK! ❤

You may also enjoy…

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Beautiful Books: The Siren and the Skyship (NaNo 2017)

It’s almost NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, dontcha know), so that means it’s time foooor…

Beautiful Books!

Yes indeed, Sky and Cait have thoughtfully put together a questionnaire to fill out regarding our NaNo novels! (Or any kind of novel, really.) So check out the linkup and join in if you like, and read on for a look at the novel I’m planning to write this November! 🙂

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I’m not sure exactly what sparked the idea… it just sort of happened.

June 26, 2015: I wrote in my then-writer’s-journal (I keep a new one every year) about a steampunk fantasy Little Mermaid story with the roles switched (mer character a guy, prince character a princess/skyship-captain). The title arrived a couple weeks later, and a week or two after that, I met the side character whose subplot tied everything together, along with an explosion of other characters and details, turning into a novel I was dying to write.

It’s expanded somewhat since then, but the main story idea is all from June-July two years ago, and I’ve been excited to write it ever since!

2. Describe what your novel is about!

I don’t mind if I do! It’s a YA Steampunk-Fantasy retelling of The Little Mermaid… ish.

Here, have a burb. *tosses summary at you*

The Siren and the Skyship

by Deborah O’Carroll

(NaNo 2017 Novel)

It’s just another mission on a voyage through the clouds for Her Royal Highness Princess Tasmania Peckham-Archley, Captain of the HRSS Star-Dreamer. Until she is saved from a fall from her skyship by an unseen rescuer, and an odd young man comes into her life with sky-blue eyes and cloud-white hair.

Auren never chose to be a cloud-siren prince; he would rather steer a skyship alongside the young woman he loves—who happens to be a princess and a captain. But to become human he must make a trade. Who needs a voice, anyway?

All Rook wanted was to serve in the skynavy, but everything he holds dear is taken from him. Fighting to forge a new life for himself, he carries the most dangerous secret of all—one the Sorcerer of the Mist will be happy to take off his hands.

When assassins strike close to home and send Princess Tasmania’s world spiraling into disarray, she will need all her friends at her side to face cloud-city ambassadors, spies, more assassins, sky pirates, the Sorcerer of the Mist (who keeps collecting things that don’t belong to him), and oh—maybe a little love.

These cloud voyages may turn out more interesting than the Star-Dreamer’s crew anticipated.

3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Clouds. Skyships. Steampunk. Tea. Love.

(All images from Pinterest and belong to their respective owners)

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!

(All images from Pinterest and belong to their respective owners)

Meet Princess Tasmania, captain of the skyship Star-Dreamer; Auren, the invisible/insubstantial wind-spirit-type Cloud Siren who wants to be human (okay, so he will be very early on…); and Rook, the former skynavyman whose father was a skyship admiral and whose mother was the daughter of a pirate king and an assassin.

Rook keeps threatening to steal the show because he’s awesome, but I keep trying to remind him that this is a LITTLE MERMAID RETELLING and he’s neither main character from that story. (Tasmania and Auren are awesome too, but, well… Rook…)

Anyway, consequently, I don’t know who’s the real MC, so I’m currently calling all three of them Main Characters and letting them fight it out. We’ll see what happens. XD

(All images from Pinterest and belong to their respective owners)

Other characters include: Noya (Tasmania’s best friend/right-hand gal), Xasper (a street-thief-turned-cabin-boy who may or may not be WHOOPS SPOILERS), an assassin lady, a couple of cool pirates (and some scary ones), various quirky/eccentric/epic crew-members on Tasmania’s ship, several villains, and Tasmania’s awesome brothers. The side characters are nearly as vivid in my mind as the main ones and I’M SO EXCITED TO WRITE THEM ALL. ❤

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Getting ready for the hectic adventure that is NaNoWriMo, and prepping to write a book, are two separate (but in this case related) things. NaNo prep I usually do all or most of the stuff in this post: 30 Things To Do For NaNo Prep.

When I plot a novel, I like to have a summary, a rough outline, and a chapter-by-chapter list if possible, as well as names for characters, maybe some inspirational pictures, and just… well… to feel READY.

I also set up a pin board thing each NaNo. This is my current one (subject to change) and includes inspiring quotes by friends, NaNo stuff, inspirational pictures, and links to my Scrivener and folder.

This year I’m currently trying something new, which is having a dedicated journal just for writing down ideas for this story. I haven’t done much with it yet, so I’m not sure how helpful it will be, but so far I’ve jotted down some thoughts I’ve had over the last two weeks, which was handy. I’m hoping, soon, to really buckle down and write out a lot of my brainstorm ideas, and sort through old notes I have, and then see if I can organize (perhaps with Scrivener’s help) something out of the jumble that will hopefully end up resembling a plot outline… Hey, at least I have three weeks in which to do so, right?? *eye twitch*

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

ALL OF IT. Okay, so I’m really excited to do a Little-Mermaid-ish story; I’m suuuper excited about the skyships and this world, and just the FEEL of it; I’m in love with these characters and can’t wait to write their stories. 🙂

7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

  • It’s in a fantasy world, which largely consists of floating cities in the clouds (Princess Tasmania is from the palace at the top of one of these), lots of rocky pillars thrusting up into the clouds and mist, farms and forests on the land below, and lots of ravines with cliffs plunging down into the misty unknown (nobody goes down there because it’s Not Safe), with wooden slat bridges and/or rope nets strung across the ravines and between pillars in some places.
  • There is no ocean in this world. (Oh, look. The Little Mermaid without the SEA. XD It’s all in the sky, peoples.)
  • A lot of the story (theoretically) takes place on skyships (a mix between our seagoing ships of the 18th century and STEAMPUNKERY), because skyships are awesome.

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Auren wants to marry Tasmania, and, well, there’s a lot standing in the way of that, which will include the trading-away-his-voice thing. (How can you ask somebody to marry you when you can’t, you know, ask?) So, that is to say, the Sorcerer of the Mist is in his way, and he’ll have to do something about that if he wants his happily ever after…

Princess Tasmania’s ultimate goal is order and keeping those she loves (and her ship) safe. Standing in her way is… pretty much everything in the book. XD Assassins and pirates and plots and all the things. But mostly her goal is getting rid of the threat against her and her family and friends, and definitely standing in her way is the Sorcerer of the Mist…

Rook just wants a normal life in the skynavy, and a family to love wouldn’t be amiss. His family being… pretty much dead… is therefore awkward, and so is himself being presumed dead and therefore kind of out of the navy. Then his major problems are a captain with a vendetta against him, oh, and awkwardly ending up without a memory… Yeah… So — surprise — it’s the Sorcerer of the Mist’s fault again… (This guy’s behind a lot; he’s a very busy fellow. XD)

9 How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Whaaaat? And ruin the surprise?? (*cough* Which is another way of saying: I have no clue as of yet, since I haven’t written it. XD)

10 What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

So I don’t really pre-plan themes? But I think I’d like a strong theme of love and also friendship and loyalty. *shrug* What can I say, it’s a YA romance-y-ish novel, and I want all the characters to learn to be friends too. XD

I’d like the reader to feel like they just read a swashbuckling, EPIC, fun (and hopefully amusing?), possibly feelsy story, one worth spending all that time reading (and all the time I anticipate I’ll spend writing it. XD). I want them to feel like they just read a GOOD book, and to close it with a smile. 🙂 (And possibly hug it, but you know, that might be asking too much. :P)

~ ~ ~

So there you have a look at the novel I’m planning to write for NaNo! I’m also featuring it for #WIPjoy over on Twitter, so if you’re curious for more tidbits, you can peruse those throughout October.

I’m also thinking about posting some NaNo tips here on my blog next week, maybe, so stay tuned for that…

Who else is doing NaNo?? You can find me on the site as Celtic Forest Dweller if you need another writing buddy, and, yes, I do have a Pinterest board for this novel (which is currently messy and in need of organizing, but for what it’s worth, there you are. XD).

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed. ^_^

Ishness of NaNo 2016

ishness
November NaNoWriMo 2016

(What do you mean, the month is called November? Pssh. It’s obviously been wrongly informed on that count and has been renamed NaNoWriMo. *nods*)

Hello, Roadlings! It being December somehow (whaaat?) I’m thinking it’s about time for another post about all the ishness I got up to this November!

Instead of having a sub-division here called WRITING, let me just tell you all about my NaNo this month, because NOVEMBER IS ALL ABOUT THE WRITING.

There will be non-NaNo-related stuff (whaaat?? That happens?) afterwards later on in the post. ^_^

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So… the month started off on a slightly down note, when I ended up losing hundreds of words on the first day of NaNo due to my laptop getting unplugged and the fact that I was not yet acquainted with Scrivener’s backup systems. That was… a bit of a downer, I’ll admit. (I got a new battery that doesn’t die in five minutes, and a better power cable that didn’t fall out every two seconds, and started regularly backing up my novel after that. Highly recommended.)

But after that, other than the daily struggle to come up with exactly what to write (since other than a very rough outline/list of chapters, I was basically pantsing each chapter) and the occasional downs that come with a month full of busyness and having to write 50,000 words… it was really a great NaNo, overall!

I wrote 51,134 words of The Library in the Stars (the NaNo site says less than that, due to their different wordcounter, but pfft, I’m totally going with mine. ;)) and wrote 7589 words on November 27 (my personal record other than the last day of my first NaNo back in 2010, which was just over 8K) and FINISHED NANO. Three days early, at that.

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Bucky helped me to keep my wordcount on track. ^_^ Picture not mine: gorgeous Bucky art belongs to Svenja Gosen — check out her AMAZING wordcount spreadsheets with awesome fandom etc. art. ❤

I didn’t fall behind on my wordcount at all! This was my first time in seven years of NaNos to stay on track the entire month, and let me tell you, it. felt. good. I even got to take a few days off from writing in there, which was glorious. I’m very much of a sprint writer. I would much rather write 3K in a day and then skip the next day than have to write the necessary 1667 words every. single. day. Honestly, the idea of writing several days in a row exhausts me more than writing 3.5K two days and then 4K another day and getting to take off four days that week in amongst that (an actual example).

lscoverNumbers aside… it was fun to write this story! I mean, it was totally confusing too, and ended up nothing like I expected, but the characters were fun, and writing a sci-fi-ish story (admittedly a heavily fantasy version) and a bunch of different plot threads and dabbling slightly with time travel all presented very interesting challenges! It will be interesting to see how the rest of the story ends up and how edits will change it…

(Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Don’t worry, there will be snippets. Just… I have to find them first, so that might take awhile. Expect some hopefully next week, though! ^_^)

Scrivenerrrr ❤

I used Scrivener for the first time, to write my NaNo novel, and it’s officially my precioussss and I love it, and ended up getting the actual program with my NaNo coupon. I’m very very excited. Honestly, it was SO useful for setting daily goals (the little progress bar in the corner!) and for organizing my chapters to write, and being able to focus on one day’s writing at a time, or a chapter at a time, or looking at the whole thing. I JUST LOVE IT SO MUUUUCH. ❤

Wordsprints

Another life-saver was the group wordsprint feature the NaNo site debuted this year. I just loved being able to sprint with people in person or online (I used it at my write-ins with great success), and even if no one else was doing it, it was SO helpful for me. I loved being able to have the countdown open in one window and Scrivener in another (with my fast music, of course — a necessity) so that I could be typing and aware of how much time was left (and the wordcount at the bottom of Scrivener was helpful too, since I could make a new sub-document for a wordsprint and vaguely assess how far into the sprint I was).

That last day, I was writing 900 words in 20 minutes with the help of the NaNo wordsprint timer and Scrivener and my fast music.

Roadlings mine, I average 1K per hour.

I have NEVER in my LIFE written that much at once.

Seriously, this was just amazing. (I’m not trying to brag. I’m trying to express how mind-blown I am and how wonderful wordsprints and Scrivener and fast music are.)

Oh yeah, did I mention fast music? Skillet, Newsboys, Skyworld, and Colton Dixon helped me out with that. Never underestimate the help of such things for typing faster. 😛

Playlist for 2016 NaNo

(miscellaneous inspiring music or just what I felt like at the time)

  • Feel Invincible — Skillet
  • Stars — Skillet
  • I Want to Live — Skillet (Damian’s themesong)
  • That’s How You Change the World — Newsboys
  • Restart — Newsboys
  • Go Glow — Newsboys
  • In and Out of Time — Colton Dixon (essential for any time-travel novel)
  • Walk on the Waves — Colton Dixon
  • Limitless — Colton Dixon
  • Aurora — John McCutcheon (I have a character named this. ‘Nuff said.)
  • Skyworld — Two Steps From Hell (Strange band name, but this is my traditional wordwar melody ever since 2014)
  • Hard to Find — Skillet
  • Sleepsong — Secret Garden
  • Savin’ Me — Nickelback
  • Northern Lights — Gaelic Storm
  • This Time — Cara Dillon
  • Never in a Million Years — Cara Dillon
  • Tell Your Heart to Beat Again — Danny Gokey
  • Dream Song — Nordik Fire
  • Starkindler — Michael Card
  • Wintersong — John McCutcheon
  • Lord of the Dance soundtrack (particularly “Lament” and also “Warriors” and “Gypsy”)

Other NaNo/Life Things

I was also an ML for my region, on my own for the first time, and survived/stayed on top of that, which pleases me muchly. I had like six writing events so… I’m kind of amazed that I managed to stay on top of things. (This introvert doesn’t always get a lot done when having to go places…) So I organized a NaNo region, held writing meetings, ran a forum, and sent out weekly peptalks, all by myself, and lived. I’m very pleased and thankful on this count.

Speaking of meetings… I got to meet Claire Banschbach!! She’s awesome, FYI. ❤ And also hang out with a few other homeschooled authors, which was so fun. ^_^

Oh and I caught a cold! Right when I hit 50K, basically. So I spent the last three days of NaNo doing things like reading, Not Writing, and flipping through Howl’s Moving Castle for all the parts where Howl has a cold (not to mention other parts, because I’m easily distracted). Yes, this is a continual occurrence when I catch colds. I’m not even sorry.

BOOKS

Notice how I cleverly disguised this section as “Books” instead of “Reading”

  • A library sale happened, which was glorious as usual, and involved my snagging some fairytale retellings including some for Tam Lin and the Twelve Dancing Princesses, among other intriguing-looking books. …My to-read bookcase has become crammed to the point where I mayyy have to avoid library booksales until I read a lot more. (I never thought I’d say that.)
  • Book mail! I don’t know about you, but book mail is one of the joys of my life, rare though it may be. ❤ Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the copy of The Silent Songbird, and thanks to Jill Williamson for the copy of Project Gemini I won in her bimonthly giveaway on her website!

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I also actually (gasp!) managed to READ three books during November! :O What is this nonsense? Reading doesn’t happen during NaNo, does it?? Evidently it did this time, which makes me pretty pleased.

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  • The Silent Songbird  was delightful and I reviewed it (Little Mermaid retelling, huzzah!).
  • Crooked Kingdom… how am I conflicted about thee…? let me count the ways. Clever but dark and with Things I’m Very Displeased About, but I love the characters and writing and I’ll admit I really enjoyed it but I can’t/won’t recommend it to anybody… (I have no idea what to rate this thing somebody halp)
  • Ghostly Echoes… only one of my top anticipated reads of the year… and I still haven’t decided what I think of this one either. Wut.

Basically I read three books that came out very recently and have fairly confused feelings about two of them and what even is this reading life where I have to have concrete opinions on things.

But I’m so happy I got to read them, and not fall behind on NaNo in the process, so yay!

Blogging

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On my book blog:

Around here:

December Plans

Whenever December hits, I have this delusion that after my month-long writing journey of epicness and exhaustion, I should totally get to take a whole month to relax. I mean, it stands to reason, right?? But noooo, apparently life doesn’t work that way. (I want it to. Let me live in my delusions.)

I kinda-sorta-almost-maybe-possibly-perhaps may have neglected many things during November (it happens, Roadlings), so I have much catching up to do, as well as Christmas things. Basically, this month I am ALL OF THE BUSY.

On top of which, I really should turn this month into NaBeReMo (National Beta-Reading Month) or something like that, with all the books I promised to read and haven’t yet. We’ll see how that goes. Wish me luck!

And, oh yes, I have a review for Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales coming to the blog later this week, and some snippets hopefully next week, and I’m finishing out the year with a couple more tags, so at least there are a few things going on around the blog — I can’t wait! And then it will be the new year (2017??) and WHAT EVEN IS TIME. *collapses*

Anyhoo, that’s what’s up with me. I’m off to go see about some of that busy-December stuff. *picks nervously at mile-long to-do list*

*I accidentally typed that as “mile-long suit.” Apparently I have Howl on my mind. Because of when Sophie accidentally made his suit too big:

“Oh dear!” said Michael. “Howl, it was my fault I–”

“Your fault? Garbage!” said Howl. “I can detect Sophie’s hand a mile off. And there are several miles of this suit.”

— Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

HMC

I will leave you with that. *proceeds with dignity to wade away wrapped in mile-long to-do list*

Beautiful Books: NaNo Update (The Library in the Stars)

NaNo update time!

I’ve been writing The Library in the Stars for NaNoWriMo and I thought  it was about time to do a sort of update on it — so fortunately there’s another edition of Beautiful Books this month (cutting it close on the timing) to help my tired brain out with that. XD

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Beautiful Books is a linkup for writers hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further in. Join in the linkup if you like!

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

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Well, I hit 50,000 words on The Library in the Stars on Sunday night and therefore finished NaNoWriMo a few days early, so… I’d say my mental state and my novel are both doing pretty good. XD I do seem to have a cold (UGH), and I still have at least five (probably very long) chapters left to finish the novel, and the book itself so far is a confusing plot-hole riddled nonsensical mess, but in spite of all of that I’m pretty enormously ecstatic to have completed my 7th NaNo!

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2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

lscoverThe first time the doorbell rang, the sixteen-year-old Coltridge twins simultaneously looked up from where they were sprawled comfortably with their very different books on opposite sides of their shared rooms at the university.

Veronica, surfacing from her Galaxy Timeline History 0000-5300 textbook, dropped her book onto her desk on top of a volume of Science and made for the door, nimbly dodging stacks of her brother’s novels on the floor in her way. “I’ve got it!”

Brendan, from his low over-stuffed couch in the corner, eyed the doorway curiously over the top of the book he was reading as she pulled the door open.

–from The Library in the Stars

3. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

Drayke Essengale (space elf) and Damian (shadowy hero) are currently fighting for that position. I love them both a lot. ❤

4. What do you love about your novel so far?

lswinThe characters. The fantasy in space. Getting to write scenes from several different ideas that I’ve had for a long time, all in one story.

All of the things?

(Except the plot holes and monstrous first-draft-ness of it, but shush, we’re not thinking of those things right now.)

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winnerProbably.

Mostly missing a word or forgetting where a sentence was going and not really completing it because it got so long…

I also one time wrote Drayke when I meant Damian… Whoops.

#ThePerilsOfCharactersWithTheSameStartingLetters

6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

They all have their pros and cons. I honestly don’t know.

7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

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I don’t really have “writing habits”… which is part of my problem. XD

I don’t eat while I write. I write best in the evening when I have no distractions… which sometimes translates to VERY LATE. I wish I was a morning writer but that didn’t really happen this NaNo.

I have been listening to music and it’s been helpful. Mostly a few songs from Skillet’s latest album, “Unleashed” (Feel Invincible, Stars, and I Want To Live), some songs from the Newsboys’ album “Restart” because it’s fast with a good beat (That’s How You Change the World, Restart, Go Glow), and “The Lord of the Dance” soundtrack because it’s epic and perfect. ❤

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I do pretty much write alone in general, but my family will usually hear about how it’s going (and cheer me on accordingly; they’re amazing) and I’ll have a sibling or two read the chapters as I write them, and I do chat about how it’s going with a couple of online friends throughout the month. Mostly, though, the loner thing.

(Pretty much: I’m Batman. Or Tare. Tare works alone too… *cough* But even Batman needs his Alfred and co., and even Tare needs his Chess Club.)

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

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This NaNo, it’s been my wordcount goals and the helpful Scrivener progress bars each day… so mostly the determination to stay more or less on track and get my words done each day.

I’m verrrry pleased to announce that I actually stayed on track and never fell behind par on my wordcount ONCE this month! This is big news. In 7 years of NaNos, this is my first time to stay on track the entire month. 😀

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

Not sure if they’re my top three, but off the top of my head:

  1. Keep writing: don’t give up.
  2. Wordsprints! (And fast music for them.) I wrote SO much my last NaNo day this year by using the awesome wordsprint feature on the NaNo site. SO MANY WORDS. Never underestimate the power of setting a timer and writing the whole time with fast music.
  3. Don’t be afraid — if you’re afraid of the next scene, just cheat. XD

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There you are. My NaNo update. Now excuse me while I ignore the fact that I still have probably a quarter of The Library in the Stars to write to finish it, and go burrow somewhere comfy and read away my cold to avoid feeling miserable and possibly nap for a week BECAUSE I FINISHED NANO! I’m very happy and looking forward to reading other books now that I don’t have to write my own at the moment. The books are caaaalling me…

10 NaNoWriMo Survival Tips

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So I was throwing some random NaNoWriMo advice at a friend on Goodreads, and decided to actually post that advice and a couple other things as a blog post. Because hey, why not? Maybe someone will benefit. 🙂 (Plus, how better to procrastinate plotting that book I need to start writing tomorrow than by blogging, amIright? 😉 )

In no particular order, here is some random advice for how to survive NaNoWriMo. Because writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days definitely calls for survival tips.

(You may know all of these and/or I may have said all of this before, in which case OH WELL you may as well hear it again. XD We could probably use a refresher course…)

1) Know your plot! …If you don’t yet, you’re in a little bit of trouble, but don’t despair, you still have a day-ish left. 😉 And you haven’t, you can try to do some outlining during the month. Just be aware that you may need to do this… (If you’re a pantser, I salute you, brave soul.)

2) Lots of wordwars/wordsprints! If there’s nobody to wordwar with, I like to just set a timer and wordwar against that. If there’s a timer going for 10-15 minutes, I feel like I need to be writing the whole time and so I actually WRITE; and it’s a very rewarding feeling, writing down the amount of words I get each time, to know that after that amount of time I actually got words written. 🙂

(EDIT: New on the NaNo site this year is a wordsprint timer with optional prompts! Check it out!)

3) If you can, write to music. Turn on some fast music with a steady fast beat if you can write to music, because I’ve found I type faster with that. (May just be me.)

4) Try to stay on top of the 1667 per day goal if you possibly can — it’s no fun being behind later in the month. Falling behind really adds up. That being said, also try to write more at the beginning if you can! Chances are you’ll be more excited about your story at the beginning and not tired out yet, so the more you write early on, the better it will be. 🙂

5) Be willing to just write anything, and do not even think about going back to edit! That will derail you pretty fast if you go back and tweak. Leave a note to yourself about what to change if you need to and move on.

6) Get some encouragement if you’re feeling behind. Reading a pep-talk or ranting to a writing friend about being stuck/behind and getting reassured, or having some chocolate, or rewarding yourself when you hit that particular goal by getting to read a chapter of that book you really want to read or something, can totally help. (Of course, I’m the first to admit that the reading-a-chapter thing can backfire if you accidentally read the whole book… >.> So, beware!)

7) Remember to get up and move around. …Wait, what? For real, you should try not to spend the ENTIRE month of November sitting hunched over a laptop/notebook. (As someone who spent a few months this year with serious back pain from using too much computer and not moving enough, take it from me: you don’t want that.) Stretch! Take a walk! (It’s amazing the benefits of a good brisk walk to brainstorm scenes. Almost as good as the notorious in-the-shower-inspiration. I still maintain both of these are because you can’t actually write down your ideas at the time…)

8) Drink water. You thought I was going to say coffee, didn’t you? 😉 Which is good in the caffeine/warming-up categories, but seriously, it’s important to stay hydrated, and  you’d be surprised how much better I feel when I drink 8-10 glasses of water every day. Give it a shot. 🙂 Coffee and tea, while also good November drinks, especially when it’s cold, just don’t hydrate like good ol’ water. I fill a gallon water jug up to the line I marked after measuring 10 cups into it, and just pour the water into a glass throughout the day, which is an easy way to keep track. It helps SO much, especially since I tend to get headaches when I don’t drink enough water; and it’s super hard to write with a headache.

9) Don’t give up! Even if it looks like you won’t hit the goal for the day, or for the month, just keep writing anyway. You’ll be surprised with where you end up if you just keep going. 🙂

10) Have fun! Enjoy the ride and try not to get too stressed out — just enjoy the crazy fun that is writing and knowing others are too. 🙂 (I’m trying to remind MYSELF with this one… I tend to get stressed instead of enjoying myself. :P)

Aaand while I’m in a NaNo-y mood . . .

If you haven’t seen it, you can pop over to my post from last year, NaNoWriMo, My Dear Watson, which is NaNo-in-a-Nutshell-with-Sherlock-gifs.

(And even if you have seen it, go see it again, because NaNo + Sherlock Holmes = why wouldn’t you? 😉 )

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be over in the corner wrapped in my shock blanket, because NaNo’s TOMORROW???

Share your best advice for NaNo in the comments! We can all always use more tips! 🙂 Best of luck, everyone! YOU’VE GOT THIS.