Andi Winter

Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

Nanowrimo 2018 – Days 29-30

Day 29

So close to reaching 50,000 (4,557 short), and I wanted to get my word count validated before everyone else did and shut down the Nanowrimo servers, so I went for it and got my word count in today.

The story is nearing the end (probably a few chapters to go), so it’s not a finished novel, but I did manage to write 50,000 words during November, which is a vast improvement over previous months. Not to mention that this novel was completely and totally and utterly PANTSED. Horribly uncomfortable, but I am muddling my way through it.

I told a friend about reaching the 50k mark and ‘winning’ Nanowrimo:

Friend: “So you had an idea you’d been thinking about for awhile and wrote that?”

Me:  <laugh> “Nope. I started with nothing — no idea, no character, not even a genre.”

Friend: “But it’s something you would normally write, right?”

Me: <laugh> “This is something I never would have written. I mean, who writes a story with souls, neurochips, talking dogs, a ton of cursing, Astoria, luxury cars, and bacon?”

Friend: <seriously> “Who wouldn’t want to read that?”

Yeah, that’s a good friend.

Overall, I’m feeling pleased about the word count and for pantsing all of it, but I haven’t finished the novel yet, so it has me also feeling unsettled because I’ve still got some work to do to finish the story. But I will finish it. Most likely next week.

20″ 296 words

40″ 1032 words

60″ 590 words

25″ 616 words

45″ 1029 words

15″ 33 words

20″ 333 words

60″ 1203 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 2500″ (41.7 hours) & 50,575 words

 

Day 30

Muse took a vacation, so I went back to my pre-Nanowrimo writing practice of writing off of a prompt for ten minutes. It was a little rough going, but felt good to get back to basics. Going forward, I will probably stick with my previous method of using the story starts that come out of writing practice for developing into complete stories — still pantsing, but with a bit more of a foundation to work from.

Thanks for hanging in there with me! Questions? Let me know in the comments.

 

Nanowrimo 2018 – Days 25-28

Day 25

Rough start. I didn’t know where to begin, so I went back to cleaning chapter 24. Decided it was too easy for our hero — he didn’t suffer nearly enough. He needed to have everything taken away from him, to hit rock bottom. So that meant rewriting the chapter 24 ending, and then wondering WTF he was going to do now, with his best friend and his love interest gone, and with no hope. And then a new character shows up (seriously — there was a reference to him ONCE a long time ago, and I didn’t think anything of it, and now he just strides on to the proverbial stage), and he lights a fire under our hero. I’ve got this image of Hank (one of the group of high school buddies) getting involved — after all, he sort of started this whole mess — but we need to find him, and for some reason this will involve going to our hero’s family cabin back in Colorado.

Nearly broke 40,000 words, which feels good. Now in the homestretch. May need to blow some things up…

30″ 193 words

50″ 1201 words

10″ 405 words

25″ 513 words

20″ 183 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 1980″ & 39,540 words

 

Day 26

Wrote in the car on the commute to work (thankfully my husband does the driving, so there I was in the passenger seat with my laptop). Writing was easy going today. Feeling rather Heinlein-esque with the reparte between characters. The car was rather comfortable and not a bad place to write, other than the occasional road bumps causing jklj (mistypings like that).

45″ 1000 words

25″ 177 words

15″ 142 words

30″ 100 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 2095″ & 41,617 words

 

Day 27

I STILL have no idea where this story is going, other than a potentially explosive ending (literally).

45″ research (Birkenfeld, Oregon; log cabin layouts; ham radio)

55″ 1001 words

45″ 1076 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 2095″ & 43,694 words

 

Day 28

I really need to figure out what the deadline and stakes are (for which I mean this story; I am well aware the writing deadline is Nov. 30). There must be the threat of something catastrophic if our two quasi-villains succeed — but they can’t do it without the hero’s tech? What threat do they hold over the hero? What can they do without the tech? It should come down to FRIENDS MEANING WELL = DISASTER.

Upon rereading the lead-up chapters, I wonder: are all the male characters tall and lanky? Hmmm.

60″ 600 words

25″ 289 words

35″ 860 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 2215″ & 45,443 words

Nanowrimo 2018 – Days 22-24

Day 22

Pre-writing: Woke up at 4:30am thinking about the novel and where the story is heading. I still have no clue, although I may have a hint for the current and next scenes. Still not feeling like I want to write — more like I have to write if I want to meet the deadline. I would much rather be reading Chloe Neill’s latest novel, which is giving me ideas and pointers about what I would like to write (assuming that my fascination with it is indicative of my writing proclivities).

Post-writing: Just chugging along. Still getting used to a slower pace, because dammit I want this to be a CLEAN first draft. It does mean an average of 1000 words per hour, Dean Wesley Smith may be right about it all just being math (the more time spent writing = more words written, and being able to plan for how long a novel with take). Distractions really slow me down (family, TV), but when I can sit in mostly silence (like Bach’s Brandenburg concertos in the background) and no visual distractions (moving TV images), I can move right along. Also helps to have a feeling about a scene — the “oh, this is the big sex scene that leads to a crisis when the soul oozes out of Melissa.” I broke the 30,000 word mark, which is good and got my minimum word count for today (3,000+).

Takeaways:

  • Keep writing the next sentence
  • If stuck, put the character in the setting with their emotions, opinions, senses
  • Remember: it’s all practice
  • And limit distractions. For goodness’ sake.

20″ 519 words

30″ 87 words

15″ 198 words

25″ 508 words

25″ 518 words

45″ 1057 words

10″ 303 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 1470″ & 30,350 words

 

Day 23

And the plot thickens…

With the fallout from the crisis of Melissa seizing, releasing Josie’s soul. Our hero has a fundamental realization that This Shit Will Not Stand, and decides to sabotage the whole reanimation project. Now he’s back at the house with Piper. Got three hours of quiet to just write, which technically ends up being the same amount of time as yesterday and with a similar total word count, but a hell of a lot less frustrating. Feeling good about what I’ve got done. Still not sure where things are going with the story, other than the hero will attempt to thwart/end the whole reanimation gig, and maybe Piper and Sam will help. Now to get up and get physically moving.

50″ 1084 words

50″ 1170 words

20″ 116 words

55″ 1055 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 1645″ & 33,775 words

 

Day 24

I’m not entirely sure about this crisis between the hero and Piper. Seems a little revelatory and maybe too soon. But! Wrote 3700 words, and it was not painful — just fun writing dialogue, especially with conflict and emotions.

Takeaways:

  • Just keep putting the time in
  • BOC (butt on couch)
  • And be surrounded by QUIET

20″ 100 words

50″ 1121 words

50″ 1316 words

30″ 93 words

50″ 1122 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 1845″ & 37,527 words

Nanowrimo 2018 – Days 18-21

Day 18

More cleaning up and more new words. The cleaning up feels good, filling out the story, fixing gaps. The story is moving forward, and conflict definitely makes the writing easy and faster. I’m enjoying the pull-push-tug between characters, and the surprises that pop up, like new characters.

20″ 84 words

25″ 119 words

40″ 1075 words

20″ 675 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 1055″ & 22,438 words

 

Day 19

Wrote lots of dialogue today, which I will need to clean up tomorrow. Note for the Future: “Jeopardy” on the TV in the background is not helpful. Nor is Merlot. Whoops. Still, I managed to get more words down, so yay, but I was kind of spacey. More words tomorrow.

20″ 181 words

30″ 323 words

20″ 536 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 1125″ & 24,042 words

 

Day 20

Gak! Still struggling with no idea of where the story is going, and no momentum. SLOW. I find myself falling back to old tricks (ex/ writing just dialogue). Unfortunately, I’m not sure that is working.

30″ 511 words

20″ 504 words

20″ 439 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 1195″ & 25,476 words

 

Day 21

Note to self: I realized that all the stories I’ve written this year came from writing prompts that I just did as writing practice and then got caught up in, but not every practice got fleshed out as a complete story. It was like the stories had already proven themselves in the practice, so perhaps some of my struggling with this story is due to it not getting that chance or metaphorical pre-soak. Just a thought.

30″ 263 words

20″ 225 words

15″ 97 words

10″ 373 words

30″ 626 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 1300″ & 27,160 words

Nanowrimo 2018 – Days 15-17

Day 15

Still very slow going. I have absolutely no idea where this story is going or what happens next, which is frustrating and feels like I’m slogging through muck. I just keep puttering, filling in details/description, deepening the scenes as I ‘write the next sentence’ and try to bring the story to life.

45″ 727 words

60″ 455 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 730″ & 15,153 words

 

Day 16

I am seriously freaked out, and now procrastinating because I don’t know what to write or what to write towards. Very itchy feeling. SO SLOW. Ugh. Still no idea where this is going.

30″ 648 words

40″ 643 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 800″ & 16,444 words

 

Day 17

Slowly getting into the story, and discovering that the longer I’m in it, the easier and more fun it gets. Twists and turns just seem to happen when I sit down and write. Got a fair bit accomplished today. Lessons learned:

WHAT WORKS:

  • distraction-free software (Writemonkey FTW)
  • writing in chunks of 500 words in 20-ish minutes
  • following tangents, setting, and jumping ahead in the story
  • shutting up and writing
  • having word count goals —word count for the day AND total word count

WHAT DOESN’T WORK:

  • “researching” (online research for things I think I need to know more about, but I don’t, really)
  • cleaning the kitchen (helpful for keeping the kitchen from being overrun by dirty pans and plates, but doesn’t increase the word count)
  • extended reading breaks in the bathroom (seriously? sometimes I can’t believe myself)

50″ 818 words

40″ 1023 words

50″ 1141 words

10″ 141 words (to get over the 20k total word count mark)

TOTALS SO FAR: 950″ & 20,067 words

Nanowrimo 2018 – Days 10-14

Day 10

Spent a fair bit of time reviewing the story written so far, and then cleaning up chapter 6 and moving on to start writing chapter 7. Still no idea who or what the Bad Guy is. Hmmm.

60″ 363 words

25″ 436 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 430″ & 10,242 words

 

Day 11

Took the day off to take care of sick husband. Did manage to write a blurb for the novel, so I guess I do have some innate direction for the story, even if I still don’t know what it is.

0″ 0 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 430″ & 10,242 words

 

Day 12

Cleaned up and finished chapter 7. Strangely enough, the writing felt nice, like I was just puttering in the garden. Today’s lesson: Just Putter. And it’s helpful when it’s quiet around me. Oddly enough, TV in the background can be rather distracting. Rather.

75″ 1000 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 505″ & 11,242 words

 

Day 13

Feeling good and easy (wait a minute, that doesn’t sound quite right). The writing is not FAST, but just chugging along. I ask myself questions, then realize I just need to keep writing to find out the answers. Definitely entertaining myself — not sure what others will think, but if the point is to have fun, then I’m finally getting there. At last.

60″ 1227 words

15″ 181 words

45″ 847 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 625″ & 13,497 words

 

Day 14

Even though I’m exhausted with minimal sleep (husband hacking and coughing at night) along with assorted other ailments, and overall just not feeling it today, I managed to make some progress Just really slowly. Cleaned up chapter 9, and chapter 8 was fine on review. Yay.

60″ 500 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 685″ & 13,997 words

 

Nanowrimo 2018 – Days 7-9

Day 7

Honestly? I’m feeling sick to my stomach and blocked. I am not looking forward to writing. This feels like work and a ‘should do’ — not fun and ‘I get to do this!’ Really wanting to continue with this total-pantsing attempt, but it’s uncomfortable. I keep wanting to rough outline the novel, but I have no idea of even how to do that with the current work.

I enjoyed writing the talking dog, and the banter between the characters, but I’m just feeling incredibly lost, and that I’d rather eat potato chips and watch TV or read a Regency Romance novel, all the while this novel is eating at me. And I haven’t documented my process (well) enough to know if this is par for the course for me, or no, this technique just isn’t working for me, or no, I can’t say anything about this new technique because I haven’t given it a fair shake (it’s only been seven days).

Fundamentally, I want writing this novel to be a “HELL, YEAH!”, and not a whimpering-suffering trial. Feel like I need an Idea to butt kick this thing. Or I could just sit with it…

10″ 140 words (cleaning up Chapter 5)

TOTALS SO FAR: 355″ & 7434 words

 

Day 8

Spent some time thinking about all of the metaphorical balls in play with this novel. Maybe there is something I’ve overlooked, some linch pin that will get me excited about writing it.

Some immeasurable time, with no words added to the novel

TOTALS SO FAR: 355″ & 7434 words

 

Day 9

Time to face my fears. I just sat with Writemonkey open, because after reading Dean Wesley Smith’s blog post about “typing faster does not mean being prolific” I took from that: more time of Butt in Chair, it’s not about speed, and have fun.

Got some more words in, mostly description and setting so far, but it’s clean writing (i.e. finished draft). And there is now a tiki bar in the story! Feeling a little better about this process.

Just approaching the writing like Barbara Ueland says: quietly stringing beads. Going pretty well.

60″ 988 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 415″ & 9423 words

Nanowrimo 2018 – Days 4-6

Day 4

Having written nearly 3,000 words yesterday must have taxed Muse because I just wasn’t feeling it today. Ended up blogging about the work so far. That counts for something, right?

TOTALS SO FAR: 215″ & 4357 words

Day 5

Spent an hour today cleaning up what I’ve written so far. This means reading through the story from the beginning and filling in details I skipped (like dialogue tags) and fixing inconsistencies (wait, did I say her eyes were blue or green? wasn’t there a dog sitting nearby?). Cleaning up writing is like cleaning the house—it takes time, and most people probably won’t necessarily notice the effort, but you do (and some will notice, subconsciously or not).

60″ 140 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 275″ & 4497 words

Day 6

A day of contrasts. Muse is back and chattering at me, so I made some excellent progress; however, the experience of writing varied. The first few sessions the story moved along at a good pace, with the writing feeling light and easy. The last two sessions were slow, took a fair bit of effort, and just felt like I was slogging through. Still, words are words, and they seem to be decent words. I’ll take it.

FWIW, I still have no idea what genre this story is and where it is going. I’m still feeling rattled at this, but am trying to embrace it. Although it’s a little hard to embrace a cactus.

25″ 695 words

35″ 888 words

20″ cleaning what I’d written

25″ 552 words

25″ 562 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 345″ & 7194 words

 

Nanowrimo 2018 – Days 1-3

Day 1

Started the day with excitement (“It’s Nanowrimo time!”), immediately followed by fretting and dithering about what to write—what title, what kind of story, what genre.

I needed a title to start from, so I tried pulling together something from my half-title lists, but I wasn’t coming up with anything that grabbed me. Then I tried a random title generator, flipped through that at least six times (that’s 36 different titles) and still nothing grabbed me. Ended up asking my husband for a title and he came back with four options, and ah ha! At last a title caught my eye.

Then I found a writing prompt. Progress! But both the title and the writing prompt were so vague that the story could be anything: Romance? Adventure? Steampunk? Science Fiction? Argh!

So I waited for an image to appear in my head, got one, and started to write. One sentence. But ZOMG this would set the tone, determine the genre, of the whole story. This was critical. I had to get this right! What if I screwed it up? What if I got it wrong?

Shoving those thoughts to the side*, I forged ahead and just kept putting words down longhand. Ever so slowly.

The day ended with 650 words and the beginning of a story that I have absolutely no idea where it is taking place (somewhere dusty and flat with a mountain in the background), no idea what the story is about, and no idea what genre it is. I’m not entirely excited about what I have (a guy in an old decrepit farmhouse, he’s disgusted about it), but I will Trust the Process. <sigh>

Onward!

20″ 375 words

20″ 275 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 40″ & 650 words

 

Day 2

Time to make the story more interesting to me, so I added a talking dog. He’s an intelligent and well-spoken dog, although he has picked up the cursing tic of our hero, but he’s giving our hero a raft of crap, so this is making the writing more fun.

I still have no idea where the story is taking place, why the hero is at the old farmhouse, what is up with the talking dog, who the woman is that the hero mentions, where the story is going, nor what genre this is—although with a talking dog, it’s probably not standard chick lit, so I can rule that genre out.

The one thing I do know is that our hero is going to Red Bluff. I have no idea why (or where that idea came from).

Chapter One is done. Speed is picking up, which is a good sign.

25″ 636 words

10″ 142 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 75″ & 1428 words

 

Day 3

Spent way too much time doing “research” on Red Bluff (it’s in California, south of Redding), and in the course of the research discovered some information about rumored Chinese tunnels under the town (for opium? cold storage? other nefarious purposes?).

This was after cleaning my writing room, because it’s terribly important that the place of creation be spotless. Now, while it was a good thing, and needed doing, let’s call it what it really was: procrastination.

Once I got my Butt in Chair (or couch, in my case), I started writing. My goal was 2000 words, and I ended up with nearly 3000. I’ll take that!

So now we have the hero, the talking dog, and a bitchy former classmate (and ex-girlfriend?) who a) is a US senator, and b) needs something from our hero (who happens to be a billionaire tech entrepreneur) for a device that can bring people back to life.

That may have been two chapters there.

The story is developing, and the speed picking up more as the story progresses.

20″ 147 words

40″ 692 words

40″ 981 words

40″ 1109 words

TOTALS SO FAR: 215″ & 4357 words

 

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*Those thoughts were like a cat that doesn’t want to be picked up: it becomes incredibly dense and suddenly weighs twice its bodyweight and you cannot move it. At all.

Nanowrimo 2018 – oh, yes it’s on!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from folks, asking me, “So, it’s November! It’s Nanowrimo*, right? Are you writing a novel?”

And my answer unequivocally is, “YES!”

It’s a bit of a change from the short fiction I’ve been writing this year (15 short stories completed since May, and a couple of those a tad bit too long to call “short”). Another change is that this novel will be written completely PANTSED**.

What that means is that I will not plan, outline, or otherwise think ahead with this novel. This is in direct contrast to, oh, every other novel I have written.

Yes, I am scared witless.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be. I’ve been essentially pantsing since May. All of the short stories (and novellas, ahem) have been written, for the most part, from writing prompts or random titles. The only outlining, when there was any, came about after the midpoint of the story, usually when I was trying to figure out what the hell the story was. The process involved reading through the story and searching for Easter eggs***, and then somehow, by the grace of the universe, the story would start to make sense and I could finish it.

But those were stories in the 3,000-18,000 word range.

Not 50,000.

And not with a deadline.

<pause for dramatic effect>

So here I will document the process, if nothing else than as a record for myself. I think I can do this; after all, I have managed to complete Nanowrimo eight times. It’s just that the whole leaping-off-into-the-abyss feeling is rather daunting. For a planner like me, this is unsettling, to say the least.

Hang in there with me! Become my Nanowrimo Writing Buddy (my user name is “andipedia”), and/or cheer/jeer me on in the comments.

To infinity (or 50,000) and beyond!

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*Nanowrimo = National Novel Writing Month. When over 400,000 people around the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. How long is 50,000 words? Think The Great Gatsby, Fight Club, The Red Badge of Courage.

**Pantsed = verb (past tense) of “Pants”: “to write by the seat of one’s pants” (i.e. to make the story up as one writes)

***Like the Easter eggs in movies or video games: some hidden detail. Also known as “Muse bombs,” where one’s Muse leaves little ‘bombs’ that can explode your creativity.

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