Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

Category: Nanowrimo Page 2 of 5

Nanowrimo 2020 — Days 4-5

Day 4

Holy hell. I don’t know if it’s post-election exhaustion or, more likely, my Perfectionism coming to the fore, but man, I put off writing all damn day. Thankfully, I had an hour that I was forced to sit away from a computer and do nothing, so I wrote longhand, or tried to write, and everything in my head was a constant battering of self-doubt:

“Do I start here?”

“Do I open with setting? What is the setting? What is the mood? What is going on here?”

“Maybe I need a writing prompt. But not that writing prompt. Okay, geez, I thought that writing prompt would work and now I don’t know what to do with it.”

“Do I scrap everything I wrote back in August and start over? Or do I try to make it work?”

“OMG, I suck and I cannot follow my own writing advice. How the hell can I teach people how to write when I hit Nanowrimo and I am a freaking mess?”

And then just as I start trying to actually write, the Evil Critic in the back of my head pops up to offer his charming insights:

“Wow, you really don’t know what you’re doing. You are such a hack. When you wrote other stories in this world, you had fun and now you’re struggling, so the earlier writing must have been inspired and you used it all up because now you’ve got nothing. Wow, this is terrible writing. Maybe you should go study some more because you clearly have no idea how to write detective fiction, so you are going to fail miserably. After all this time, all you’ve managed is 200 words? Such a loser…”

So, yeah. Despite the mental distractions, I managed to write one page of the novel today, which feels like a monumental victory.

As Scarlett O’Hara said, tomorrow is another day. Hopefully this was just the initial stuttering, like trying to start a car that’s been parked in a garage for years. Just needs a little bit of a jump to get going.

TOTALS SO FAR: 25″ & 298 words

Day 5

Now that I got that out of my system, time to get to work.

The good news: yesterday’s words weren’t as bad as I thought. Not great, but not awful. So that’s a win.

Spent today going over what I wrote yesterday and then fitting that in with what I wrote back in August. Lots of smoothing things down and filling things out and trying to keep it all consistent.

The writing still feels awkward, but I’m making some progress. I’ll take it.

20″ 137 words
40″ 264 words
45″ 688 words
[for the day 105″ 1089 words]

TOTALS SO FAR: 130″ & 1387 words

Nanowrimo 2020 — Day 3

Still getting warmed up here. I spent an hour reading the last of the three short stories in the Genie Colt* world (it was the longest at 7,200 words, with the other two running around 2,000 each) and taking notes for the ‘story bible’.

Holy hell. I have an entire world already created.

I’ve got an opinionated main character (don’t get her started on fake plants, bad coffee, or McMansions) in a city with wizards, old Norse gods, and mer-people, and a seedy supernatural underbelly that has its own infrastructure that includes bureaucracy, crime scene cleaners, and a motley assortment of residents (daughter of a garbage truck driver and a fairy? Check!). And did I mention the wizard ex-fiance that has our heroine annoyed and intrigued?

Okay, so I’m starting to get really excited, and a little nervous. This thing could be, in the parlance of my childhood, AWESOME.

But no pressure.

Now to review the story idea I had back in August, and see how I can use that.

<twiddles thumbs breathlessly>


*Genie (Genevieve) Colt, occult PI. Set in Astoria, Oregon.

Nanowrimo 2020 — Days 1-2

Day 1

National Novel Writing Month officially started November 1, which I spent doing everything but Nanowrimo in an effort to tie up other writing loose ends before embarking on the new novel. I finished up four flash fiction stories, worked on the cover to my upcoming “Seven Territories” print collection, and sent out my newsletter.

I’m not panickingyetbecause I’ve had Nanowrimo years where I didn’t start writing until Day 3.

Day 2

Back in August, I started writing a “revenge noir” story as part of my “Write a Story a Week” pandemic challenge. The story had all the proper attitude of a noir story (lots of attitude) and took off with magic, supernaturals, and an occult PI in Astoria, Oregon. I was having a ball writing it, and then realized that what I was writing was not a short story, but had all the makings of a novel.


So I wrote a different story and shelved the occult PI noir story, promising myself I would give it the space and time it needed.

Oh, look! Nanowrimo to the rescue.

I’ve already written three stories in this funky urban fantasy-noir world, so I spent today reading through those stories and making notes in a ‘story bible’ that I can use as I make my way through the novel. No need to come up with new backstory/world building (or spend time trying to remember what I had come up with) when I already have some of that worked out.

At this point, I may be slightly cheating by having started the novel already (that said, it’s only 2,200 words), but I’ll still be writing 50,000 over the course of the month. And I might end up rewriting the beginning anyway.

The real challenge for me is writing a mystery novel, which has me a little on edge. I’ve written two mystery stories so far, but nothing long form, so we shall see how this goes.

“How to Write a Novel in 30 Days” talk tomorrow!

With National Novel Writing Month coming up in November, I’ll be giving a presentation on how to write a novel in 30 days tomorrow (Wednesday, October 21).

I’m not sure how I forgot to mention this because I am so excited to share what I’ve learned over… EIGHTEEN years. I had to go back through my notes and found my first Nanowrimo attempt back in 2002, and it was a win in that it got me started writing my first novel. I tried again in 2003 and 2004, but I couldn’t finish those novels (perhaps I was too ambitious trying to write a Tale of Genji set on a Wyoming ranch).

Then I got my first win with a contemporary fantasy in 2005, and followed that with a science fiction version of The Odyssey in 2006. From those experiences, I learned the power of structure (i.e. using a classic for the story basis) and the power of car chases and blowing things up for adding to word counts.

Having struggled with completing a novel (let alone writing one in 30 days) for so long, I wanted to share what I’ve learned to help fellow writers. If I can help them get right to writing (and finishing!) a novel, then what I went through was totally worth it.

So am I a fan of Nanowrimo? Absolutely! I know there are some writers who think Nanowrimo is terrible for essentially encouraging people to write crap (write fast! write furious! it’s just about the number of words!). But for me, Nanowrimo gave me permission and encouragement to pursue my dream of writing, and I believe that anything that inspires you to be creative, to overcome your insecurities to try something new and challenging, is a Good Thing.

I will be blogging my Nanowrimo journey this year. You can follow me here and on Nanowrimo’s site (@andipedia). To 50,000 and beyond!

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+).


  • 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.


  • 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:


  • 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


  • “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


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