Andi Winter

Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

Category: Nanowrimo (page 1 of 3)

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.

Nanowrimo Day 21 – the last day

It’s the final countdown . . .

Now that I had my characters in amusing trouble (got to have that last “whoops!” moment), it was time to make them work their way through it. There is nothing like a “Freaky Friday” scene to get characters engaged and to bring out their personalities! They solved their problem, everyone is more or less okay, and our hero and heroine are together at last, crossing the 50,000 word count mark. Woo hoo!

Writing the final scene felt triumphant and scary and frustrating and delightful. These were the last words for this first draft, and I wanted the story to end on an upbeat, happy note, so I spent more time fretting over the words and characters’ dialogue than I would normally, but at the same time I felt like I was riding a great wave and flying.

Reached 50,402 words and promptly uploaded them to the Nanowrimo website to have my word count validated, and with a click of a button—ta dah! Winner!

Now what?

Now I have a finished first draft of a novel, which is about the equivalent of an artist’s piece of marble or lump of clay. The next step is to refine it and make it better, more cohesive and consistent. (Like carving away the excess to reveal the sculpture.) It’s odd to have to finish a story to figure out what the story was about, and who the characters were. Knowing what I know now, I can go back through the novel and make corrections and changes to make it the book I envisioned. Once that is done, I will see about publishing it. When will all this happen? Sometime after the holidays (which will probably mean July).

Final thoughts

Thank you to everyone for your support and questions and encouragement. This was the first time I have blogged about my writing process (rather than just keeping a spreadsheet tally of time and words). Hopefully, it’s inspired others to give art a shot (any art—not just writing, but writing is good, and cheap to start).

Notes for the Future (aka Useful Things):

  • Have story/plot points to accomplish, esp. in 500 word increments
  • Place Butt in Chair, alone, with no noise or distractions
  • Writemonkey FTW (i.e. distraction-free writing software)
  • Have a concept/vision for the story
  • Borrow story frameworks from classic novels (particularly novels you love)
  • Create individual files for each day’s writing in addition to the one LARGE file of the entire work

Writing sessions today:

15″ – 330 words

50″ – 1333 words

35″ – 1057 words

Total novel writing time: 1445 minutes (24 hours 5 minutes)

Total novel word count: 50,402 words

 

 

Nanowrimo Day 20

I thought 4000 words would be simple. After all, I’d just written 9000. What’s another 4000?

Ha.

Found myself stuck. I had killed off the characters, then brought them back from the dead (spoiler!), and everyone is now happy as they head back to the air ship.

Now what?

Spent awhile trying to figure out where to go from there. Surely there was more story to be told, but what exactly? Played with potential unintended consequences of bringing back the dead, and came up with some intriguing options. My biggest concern was making sure that the ending was happy, since some of the consequences could take the story in decidedly unhappy directions. Found an answer and got inspired to start writing again.

Not a fantastic word count day, but definitely headed in the right direction.

Writing sessions today:

15″ – 504 words

15″ – 330 words

Total novel writing time so far: 1345 minutes (22 hours 25 minutes)

Total novel word count so far: 47660 words

Nanowrimo Day 19

So I gave it a go today and attempted to catch up to where I should have been if I had been writing at a steady, regular pace. I needed 7827 words to catch up.

Mission accomplished and surpassed: 9212 words!

This means I have less than 4000 words to write over the next two days to complete the 50,000 words in 30 days challenge.

I can’t rest easy quite yet, but the end is definitely in sight. It should be a simple coast to the finish line now, which is a relief.

Today’s highlights: killing off the main and supporting characters (!), Maddy’s epiphany, and this bit:

“I love you,” she said.

The Captain frowned. “Not yet, you don’t. Let’s go.”

It’s not exactly Han Solo/Princess Leia at the carbonite freezing facility, but it comes close for me.

Now I just have to figure out the ending, which will most likely feature tears, joy, ridiculous hats, and a teaser for a follow-up story.

Just two more days to go. Woo hoo!

Writing sessions today:

55″ – 1382 words

20″ – 697 words

20″ – 522 words

6″ – 214 words (really needed to eat lunch)

30″ – 1003 words

15″ – 522 words

45″ – 1379 words

43″ – 1271 words

30″ – 1001 words

45″ – 1221 words

(for a total of 5 hours and 9212 words)

Total novel writing time so far: 1624 minutes (27 hours 4 minutes)

Total novel word count so far: 46826 words

Nanowrimo Day 18

Time is rapidly running out with November 30 looming ever so darkly . . .

Wrote 2157 words in just over an hour, which is not bad, and at least puts some more words in the proverbial bucket. Tomorrow looks to be a bear if I’m going to try to catch up (10,000 words in a day? Sure! <choke, gasp>) and have any hope of finishing the 50,000 words by midnight on Wednesday.

I’m torn—do I nearly kill myself trying to finish before the official deadline, or do I accept that Life Happens and continue to work at a more human pace (figuring I’ll finish by next weekend)? Regardless, it will take less than thirty writing days to complete the first draft, so there’s something to be said for that. At the same time, I’m wanting to have this draft DONE so I can get back to other projects that have been suspended (like publishing that flash fiction collection). And getting the Nanowrimo “WINNER” badge wouldn’t hurt my feelings.

Decision, decisions.

The only surprise today was actually getting some time to write.

Writing session today:

65″ – 2157 words

Total novel writing time so far: 1315 minutes (21 hours 55 minutes)

Total novel word count so far: 37614 words

Nanowrimo Day 17

And we’re heading into the final days. Spent an hour-ish while baking oatmeal-cranberry cookies to work on plotting out the rest of the novel. Four dozen cookies later (baked, not eaten), I tackled the Catch Up Day: 4102 words in two hours. I was hoping 7000, but I’ll take 4000.

Today’s surprises: Maddy started healing folks a little earlier than I had planned, and our Captain was shot (and killed?). Not sure how well this will work with that planned out plot from earlier . . .

Writing sessions today:

20″ – 713 words

15″ – 517 words

15″ – 505 words

15″ – 500 words

15″ – 503 words

15″ – 533 words

25″ – 831 words

Total novel writing time so far: 1250 minutes (20 hours 50 minutes)

Total novel word count so far: 35457 words

Nanowrimo Day 16

Not much to say today. Just trying to get some words in so this isn’t Excruciatingly Painful come the end of the month when I’m trying to catch up. Surprise for the day: our fearless heroes end up skydiving (I really didn’t see that coming!).

Writing sessions today:

35″ – 1066 words

Total novel writing time so far: 1130 minutes (18 hours 50 minutes)

Total novel word count so far: 31355 words

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