Tag Archives: #writingtips

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

My muse didn’t show up to work, but I still had to.

Ever had it happen where you have the time to write, you have the inclination to write, and the words literally won’t come?

This is how it happened to me the other week.

Monday: I have a half hour, I’m going to get some writing done! Or take a nap. Whatever.

Tuesday: I have an hour before my usual bed time, and no other work! I should get some writing done. I’ll open my laptop and…. why don’t I know what to write? This is frustrating. I’ll just read instead.

Wednesday: I have some time, I’ll get that laptop open and get some writing time in. Fingers… frozen… send… help.

Thursday: All right, muse, I’ve been waiting for you all week. Where the heck are you?

Upon reflection, here’s where I might have gone wrong: 1) Since I gave myself permission not to do any writing on Monday (not even 10 minutes), that was enough to make the habit feel onerous. 2) On Tuesday and Wednesday, I let my muse dictate whether I wrote or not, and she was still mad that I’d stood her up on Monday.

Thus, on Thursday I decided it was time to change things up. No more waiting for the muse to show up and help me finish writing chapter 37. I was going to entice her to come back to me by (surprise!) writing.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes the way to get back into the flow of writing is to just do some writing.

Since chapter 37 wasn’t coming, I switched it up. I did some editing in early chapters. I moved on to a later scene that needed fixing (instead of writing from scratch). Thursday was a slog, but by the time I finished I felt so much better.

And you know what? On Friday my muse showed up and helped me finish chapter 37.

Has this ever happened to you? How did you tempt your muse to come back? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Happy writing!

Image of typewriter by Elijah O’Donell on Unsplash
Image of crumpled paper in wastebasket by Steve Johnson on Unsplash