Tag Archives: nanowrimo

NaNo 2018, here I come!

I am a pantser by nature. But on November 1, 2017, I was more prepared than I’d ever been for NaNoWriMo.

Outline written.

Characters planned.

Scrivener template ready to go.

At 12:00 am on November 1st I tore into my first few words with the literary abandon NaNo is meant to engender. As the month wore on, my enthusiasm waned. I found reasons NOT to write. My heart just wasn’t in it.

Somehow, even with all the preparation and planning, I ended November 2017 with fewer words written (~10k) than I’d ever completed in a NaNo month.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always win. And I’m totally aware that any words are better than no words. But those 10k words felt like a failure.

NaNo 2017 — how much further?

This year, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to face NaNo again, so I put everything off until the very last minute.

I didn’t even announce my novel until Oct 31st.

I completely bypassed November 1st, afraid to start.

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to write about until I sat down at the computer on November 2nd.

And now, about a week in, I’m much further along than I was last year at the same point. Granted, I’m still not hitting the overall NaNo goal (though miracles can happen). But the writing is coming easier. Instead of pulling myself through molasses, I feel like I’m gliding on fresh snow, leaving my joyful mark on the once-clean pages.

NaNo 2018 — look at them doggies go!

Is the difference that I didn’t bother with an outline this year? On the contrary, I did write an outline (on Nov 2nd), and have been fleshing it out since. The hybrid pantsing/planning model I’m going for this year has definitely made writing easier.

So what is the big difference?

I think it’s about loving my story. Last year, the story felt stilted. I couldn’t get traction with the plot or the characters. And the main character and I didn’t get along very well. However, the mistake was NOT in my planning. It wasn’t really even that I left my comfort zone, nor that I got mired down.

The mistake was that I stopped writing.

So you hate your main character? Introduce a foil to your main character who you love. Plot feels wrong? Throw in a curve ball. Or if the story is just not working for you at all, scrap it altogether and write something different.

There are so many stories to tell and we only have so much time allotted to us to tell them. So don’t stop. Don’t let yourself get in the way of your writing. Don’t let your writing make you feel bad about yourself.

We’ll see how it all turns out this year, but I fully expect to at least feel proud of myself (and my word count) at the end of the month. In fact, even though I’m only at 5k so far, I already do.

Happy NaNo-ing!

Photo of crumpled paper and wastebin by Steve Johnson on Unsplash
Photo of ‘man in blue coat walking on snow pulling grey wagon with luggages near trees during daytime’ by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash
Photo of dogs pulling sled by 🔮🌊💜✨ on Unsplash

So you’ve been overrun with plot bunnies. What should you do?

I was listening to an old episode of A Way With Words, one of my favorite podcasts, and they mentioned plot bunnies.

(A quick aside: If you love words, definitions, etymology, and interesting stories, then you should definitely check out the podcast. The first time I listened to an episode I thought, “These are my people!”)

The podcast used the definition of a story that won’t go away until you write it down, and then it keeps breeding further story ideas. I’ve run across a number of slightly similar definitions for plot bunny (a story idea that gnaws at you until you write it, a story idea that keeps breeding, a story that hits you hard like a herd of wild rabbits, etc.).

What’s that, Thumper? You had a great idea? Do tell.

No matter how you define it, the a plot bunny is a really fun concept. It’s a convenient metaphor for the work your brain is always doing:  observing and thinking. Putting ideas together. Finding patterns. Taking interesting tangents.

So what do you do with your plot bunnies once they’ve begun breeding (and they’re trying to take over from the work that’s in front of you)?

  1. Many writers keep a notebook of ideas that they might use some day. From a low-tech pen and paper notebook, to a Google Doc, to an Evernote file, find a way to get those plot bunnies out of your head.
  2. When the plot bunnies begin to breed, write those down too. Whether it’s a spinoff idea, an idea for a sequel, or an idea that has very little to do with the first but is also compelling, keep it in your “notebook.”
  3. Eventually, whether it takes you a few days or a few years, get around to writing the story. It doesn’t matter if it’s for you or for publication. The key with plot bunnies is that they’ll keep gnawing until you get them completely out of your system.
  4. Understand that ideas are infinite. Someone else might “do your idea first,” (when you read Big Magic as I suggested in another post, you’ll find an amazing example of this), or you might even suggest the idea to a writer friend who might be better suited to take it on. If that exorcises that plot bunny for you, then all is well. More plot bunnies will be along if you just keep observing, thinking, and writing them down.

Here’s to hoping you have fun with your plot bunnies, but don’t let them distract you too much from your current project.

Happy writing!

Photo of fluffy bunnies by Chan Swan on Unsplash
Photo of alert rabbit by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

Three tips for succeeding at #CampNaNoWriMo — week 1 in review #amwriting #writing

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Dear mom and dad,

Here I am at Camp NaNoWriMo!

As you know, I was super excited to come to Camp NaNo for the first time this year. In fact, before camp began I was thinking, “Yay! The support of NaNoWriMo in a spring month! I can’t wait to get writing!”

I’m writing to let you know how my camp experience has been going so far.

Here’s what happened on April 1st:

“Well, it’s not REALLY NaNoWriMo — I mean, I got to pick my own goal and it’s lower than normal NaNoWriMo — so I could blow off the first day and still be okay.”

Here’s what happened on April 3rd:

“Even with my lower-than-50K goal I still need to get almost 1,000 words per day. Better get going!”

One week in, with a goal of 7,000 words the first week, I’ve only completed about 2,000 words. (cue Debbie Downer music: wah wah wah waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.)

But you taught me to always look on the bright side. Just call my Pollyanna! Here’s what I plan to do for the rest of the month to re-start my momentum:

Tips for Camp NaNoWriMo

1) Treat it just like you treat NaNo in November.

That means no excuses. Somehow, in November I managed to find time to finish 50,000 words even with work, kids, laundry, etc. So this month, I need to stop letting work be an excuse. And just because I set myself a goal of 30K rather than 50, I still need to take it just as seriously if I actually want to meet that goal. (And I do. I soooooooooo do.)

2) Shoot to exceed, rather than just meet the goal

For most of us, even when we’re not using excuses, there just isn’t time to always write every day. Given that, rather than shooting to meet goal each time I sit down, I’m going to write as much as I possibly can. If that falls short, meets, or exceeds the goal for the day, I’m going to be proud of myself for getting it done. And if it exceeds enough times, hopefully I can make up for what I missed.

3) Make use of the time you have

Who says writing has to all happen in one big block during the day, anyway? Back in November, I took my Chromebook everywhere I went. If I was in a waiting room for 20 minutes, that meant 20 minutes of writing. In an effort to catch up to my goal for Camp, I’m pledging to myself that I’ll do the same this month.

Bonus tip:

There are SO many resources available at the Camp NaNoWriMo site (cabin mates, pep talks, writing resources, etc) — if you’re not already taking advantage of these, this would be a good time to start doing that. (Yes, I was talking particularly to myself just there, but you’re welcome to take that advice as well.)

After taking the time to write all of this, I’m pumped! Maybe I’ll take this momentum and get going on catching up. 30K, here I come!

Happy writing!

P.S. If you’re at Camp NaNo as well, feel free to message me and say hello! I’m JaeRuss on the site.


One of the amazing things about being part of NaNoWriMo last year was the momentum. So many people working towards the same goal, constant support, the ability to tweet out word counts late at night and still get back a distance high five….

That’s why, even though I’ve lost some of my momentum without the NaNo deadline (don’t get me wrong — the great people over at NaNo are still providing tons of support during the “Now What” months; it’s just harder to meet my own deadlines than someone else’s), I’m still using the #amwriting hash tag.

That way, when I have a word count or celebration to tweet out, at least there are still people out there who will be celebrating with me.  🙂

Why would anyone want to #write a novel?

The other day, a friend of mine mentioned to a mutual acquaintance that she was beta-reading my first draft. The acquaintance responded with a question that I am certainly not the first person to be at the other end of: “Why would anyone want to write a novel?”

She didn’t literally mean “anyone,” of course. She meant anyone like her, or like my friend, or like me. Anyone who has a job as anything other than a professional novelist.

There are many, many ways to answer this question. Because I love to write. Because there’s a story inside of me that wants to get out. Because disappearing into the fantasy world of writing is often even more fulfilling than reading a novel, an activity which I also love. Because when it’s difficult — when the characters won’t cooperate, when the words won’t flow — is when it helps me grow even more as a person and as a writer.

The good people over at NaNoWriMo probably said it best:

“The other reason we do NaNoWriMo is because the glow from making big, messy art, and watching others make big, messy art, lasts for a long, long time. The act of sustained creation does bizarre, wonderful things to you. It changes the way you read. And changes, a little bit, your sense of self.”

Might not be the same for everyone, but that’s why I want to write a novel.

I write to write. I write because I love it. I write for me.