I Didn’t Win at NaNoWriMo… or Did I?

NaNoWriMo 2016 Participant

Welcome to December 1st and the first day after National Novel Writing Month!

I hope if you participated, you achieved your big WIN and have the euphoric ambition to continue with your novel into December and beyond. Even if you didn’t get a NaNo-defined win, I hope you were able to make some solid forward progress and accomplish some personal goals.

Because that’s what NaNoWriMo is really about as far as I’m concerned–making us into more productive, more consistent, more successful writers.

I haven’t had much success at NaNoWriMo previously. Last year, I created an account, wrote one day, and then fell off the wagon. Then for Camp NaNoWriMo, I got through about half of the month before I burned out and spent the next several months not writing and in a state of self-loathing for not writing.

In October, I made myself join and participate in a few Facebook writing groups, namely Ninja Writers and Your Write Dream. I cannot stress how helpful these two groups were for me to get the kick in the butt I needed to start writing again. So much so that I got the bug to try NaNoWriMo again.

In fact, I wrote a post about it here.

1667 words per day sounded like a good way for me to reach the dreaded burnout followed by self-loathing. So I decided to up my normal word per day goal of 300 to 500. I knew going in this wouldn’t get me to 50,000 by November 30th, and I was okay with that.

I pre-planned. It was a truncated pre-plan, because I made the decision to participate in NaNoWriMo literally less than a week before November 1st. I had a solid idea of the beginning, middle, and ending. I wrote about half of the outline. I bought a new set of pens–I decided to try the Papermate Inkjoy pens and found an 8-pack of assorted colors. I bought a new full-size 5-subject notebook–I decided to write my entire first draft longhand. I bought a new half-size notebook–my standard for note-taking.

On November 1st, I started writing. I wrote every day for 30 days straight. A few days, I only managed a few sentences, but I still added to my word count. I aimed for 500 words per day and accomplished that all but three days. I participated in writing sprints with the Ninja Writers group every Sunday–several times during the day we would write as much as possible for thirty minutes and then report back. They were my most successful writing days in all the time I’ve been writing.

NaNoWriMo Ending

On November 30th, I had over 33,000 and a daily average over twice my goal. It wasn’t 50,000, but that hadn’t been my goal. My goal for November had been to write and write every day.

Goal accomplished.

I may not have won in the definition NaNoWriMo uses, but I feel I won because I made a writing habit and I didn’t burn myself out.

NaNoWriMo Writing Tracker

My goal for December is to continue writing every day and to finish my first draft. I’ll also be working through pre-planning another novel in the Plotting Workshop.

The premise for this novel?

A chivalrous knight has his black and white world turned upside down when his lord and lady are murdered and their daughter disappears.

Between that and writing a book for work (among other projects), I think I’ll have a fairly busy winter.

~ Effy

End Note: I’m not impressed with the Papermate Inkjoy pens. They write nice and even but I don’t think they lasted as long as they should. About 130 pages in and five of the eight are already dead, with two more close behind. Some quick math and I estimate each pen only wrote about 20 pages each.

Advertisements

New Post

The Dark Tower series, by Stephen King

The Dark Tower series, by Stephen King

I’ve learned many things from the writing of Stephen King (both reading his novels and his great book On Writing). Among those lessons, he’s taught me that fantasy and science fiction need not be segregated, but can be present in the same fictional world at the same time. It can be done. It can work. It can work well.

Aside from the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, I’ve come across this idea elsewhere too–from Anne McAffrey and Terry Brooks, to name a couple. I also found the idea fascinating in the 80’s cartoon movie Wizards.

Go then, there are other worlds than these. ~ Jake Chambers

Go then, there are other worlds than these. ~ Jake Chambers

This has been one of the cornerstones of my fantasy world for a long time. One of my first tries at writing a novel (in middle and high school) included a human from Earth ending up in my fantasy world of Dadreon. Over the course of the story, she learns the horrible truth, that Earth was destroyed and this alien fantasy world eventually sprung from its ashes. The horror of it struck me enough to think of it as a good enough segway.

Then, I grew up and I noticed the glaring holes in my worldbuilding. I’ve spent the past few years stitching up many of them, but I had started to think I would drop the “far-future Earth” idea because I wasn’t sure how I could make it work. I feared it had become my “darling” and one that needed killing. (More advice from Mr. King.)

Kill your darlings... ~ Stephen King

Kill your darlings… ~ Stephen King

I had my pantheon of gods. I had the protectors that served those gods. I had mortal races that had “normal” day to day lives, like real life, but in a fantastic world. These characters all make up the side of “order,” and on other side of that balance coin, the forces of “chaos.” But I still hadn’t figured out how to make the fantasy and science fiction elements blend. I didn’t want some blah reason for Earth to die. I didn’t want to make some statement of how awful we are as a human race and have us blow ourselves up in a nuclear war (which was my original thought, but never satisfying).

Then everything (finally, after almost 30 years) started to come together.

When I started my blog, I used it as an outlet for the fan fiction stories building in my head. Stories for my World of Warcraft characters. They were set in a known world, so I had that part done for me, very safe, but it’s such a wide world it gave me the latitude to get creative. Eventually, realizing I would never (realistically) be able to publish fan fiction (except on my own tiny corner of the internet), I shifted back to working on fiction for my own fantasy world of Dadreon again.

About 30 years after creating it and about 10 years since I’d even looked at it.

I filled in lots of worldbuilding holes. I made great progress.

But I missed those great fan fiction stories I had started.

So I began to wonder if there were a way to translate those stories from the Warcraft world to my own.

What I came up with was sparked by Effraeti’s “Descending Twilight” series. So I brainstormed and I wrote a teaser:

Earth, the Near Future.

Humans have been advancing their technology and learning the science of time travel, but not in time to save themselves. Dark old gods have emerged. They and their demonic minions lay waste to Earth.

In one last effort to save humanity, scientists flee through time both backward (to prevent) and forward (to escape), trying to find their salvation and discover what might stop these awesome, destructive beings.

But something goes wrong. Dr. Gabi Graf is caught in a temporal vortex and nearly killed. Somehow she is split in two and ends up in two times and places, each half aware something is missing…

Can she survive in the distant future? What will Earth have become at the hands of these dark old gods? And will she find what she’s looking for?

Gabi has become her own alternate timeline.

Okay, okay, so the blurb probably doesn’t need the last line, but I really like it.

Now, instead of working on my four book series Jadeflare (specifically Book 2) for NaNoWriMo, like I had originally intended, now I want to work on this. I have so many ideas in my head.I’m currently working to straighten them out in my head and on paper with the help with

I’m currently working to straighten these ideas out in my head and on paper with the help with Kristen Kieffer’s awesome Pre-Writing Story Bible. (Kristen also runs a great Facebook group called Your Write Dream with a great writer community if you’re interested in something like that.) Once I get every question answered in the Story Bible, I’ll do a chapter outline. Then I’ll enter those chapters into Scrivener. Then, I should be ready to start writing.

I love the idea of NaNoWriMo, but I doubt I’ll aim for 1667 per day (for a total of 50,000 between November 1st and November 30th). I’m thinking of doing something more lowkey and attainable, like 500 words per day, which was suggested by Shaunta Grimes who runs another awesome Facebook group called Ninja Writers, which is also a great writing community.

The Facebook groups are great support, but also a huge distraction sometimes (like when I’m unconsciously trying to avoid writing).

500 words are still more than my average, so it’ll still be quite a stretch.

But I can do this.

And I’ll work on this new novel idea (which I’m affectionately naming Split Personality until I come up with something better) until I get stuck like I did with Jadeflare. Then, I’ll switch and keep going with that.

I’m trying to tell myself that multiple projects are okay. It might slow me down, but if it keeps me writing reguarly, it’s worth it.

Wish me luck in November! If I’m not stressing too much over word counts, I’ll try to post updates. Otherwise, I might not pipe up here again until December 1st.

~ Effy