November 18

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

I have participated in NaNoWriMo for the entirety of November.  For those who don’t know National Novel Writing Month is when you try to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  This happens in November.

The month is over half-way over and I find myself ahead of schedule by a lot. I’ve never been ahead, in fact, with one exception, I’ve never hit the goal in the allotted time. I think the main difference from now and earlier years is that I’m not allowing myself to edit what I’ve written and I’ve wanted to write this book for a long time.

I don’t expect perfection when I take part in NaNoWriMo. When the goal is to write 1,667 words a day, you can’t expect anything near perfection. The goal, for me, is to get as much of the story written as possible by deadline. By not allowing myself to over think what I’ve written my stories develop more organically and I’ll often find more creative solutions to plot issues than if I took my time and thought my way through the issue.

Those are the positives.  The negatives are that I often end up with a lot of material I end up needing to delete and discard, because I didn’t edit and what I have doesn’t actually work well with the rest of the story.  I’ll find a plot hole the size of Wisconsin that needs patched up or eliminated some other way. And I often have a lot of rewriting to do so that I’m showing instead of telling.

My favorite thing about participating in NaNoWriMo is that the hardest part of writing–which used to be the easiest for me–writing the book is mainly done by November 30th.  I then get to start editing it, rewriting it and making it better. Yes, editing is easier for me now days.  Maybe that’s normal for writers–the editing becomes easier than writing new material.

This years novel is actually the beginning of what I was planning on being my sequel. With what I’ve written so far, I’m getting the strong impression that this “novel” won’t actually be long enough to be a novel. That I’ll, in fact, need to add what I end up with to the end of what I have written. Since what I have written isn’t technically long enough to be a novel by itself, this may be for the best. But I won’t know until I actually get everything written and then re-written and cleaned up.

If I do end up combining the two things together than I’ll have a lot of editing to do, including parts of the novel that I have had written a long time, simply because I’ll have more time to introduce concepts that I’m only now touching on in this “sequel” because it wasn’t relevant to what I’ve now written.  It’s amazing how much a few pages of writing, a simple challenge can change your writing.

I also enjoy the community, and encouragement that can be found on NaNoWriMo. There are write-a-thons available throughout the month where you can meet up with other writers to write. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, and potentially new critique partners, friends and resources.  Prizes are given for hitting 50,000 words.

If you’d like to finish a book or see how many words you can reach by Nov. 30th, I’d urge you to try NaNoWriMo. Or, try to start from the beginning next November.

June 5

Writer’s Retreat in McCall, Idaho coming up.

A photo of where we’ll be staying at.
 The picture was taken off of rental website. 

The Coeur du Bois chapter of Romance Writers of America is having their annual Writer’s retreat this month.   Last year was my first year and I enjoyed it immensely. I learned a lot, got a lot of writing done and had fun.

We will be going to the same cabin in McCall we went to last year. As you can probably tell from the photo we are in a pretty remote location during retreat.  However several members last year went into town to enjoy the farmers market, the old-fashioned chocolate factory, the beach and so much more. The cabin came with a television, a dvd play and other electronic toys, but as far as I know they remained unused during our stay.  The one thing members probably wanted but didn’t have was internet access.  However, the lack of internet access and power hours was what allowed one member to write 20,000 words during her internment. Instead of getting online to do research and suddenly losing four hours, you write a note to do research in an area and continue writing.

A photo of the living room.
 The picture was taken off of rental website. 

Power hours, for those who don’t know, are especially helpful. They were offered several times throughout the day. Someone kept track of when the hour began and when it would end.  During that hour everyone participating focused solely on writing. No editing. No researching.  No plotting.  Just editing.  It’s a great exercise and you really learn how much writing you can get done in a short amount of time, especially if you find someone to compete with–word count wise.

As nice and comfortable as the place is, there are things that I’ll need to remember to bring with me this time around, beyond the necessities. I’d like to bring a small pillow to use as a cushion for when I’m going to sit at the table for extended periods of time.  A throw to hang over my shoulders for those days when my body seems to have a different temperature than everyone else in the cabin. Plus, I’ll bring different snacks.  No one seemed to have even touched the homemade cookies I brought, but then, their was an overabundance of desserts there.  Alcohol was also readily available. Those who know me well would probably gape at the fact that I had a glass of some kind of alcohol every night.

As social and collaborative as the retreat can be, the cabin was usually pretty quiet, which allowed people to sleep in, nap or write until their fingers and pencils were stubs.  It’s also highly productive and relaxing. Why wouldn’t I be looking forward to retreat?