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NaNoWriMo Workshop – Your Turn

October 23, 2009

This is the last day you’ll hear me talk about NaNoWriMo

At least, until November 1st.😀

NaNoWriMo has got to be one of my all-time favorite writing activities. It’s not just about the writing itself (though that’s very satisfying), but the fact that we all come together and share experiences, advice, motivation and support to get through the challenge. I love NaNoWriMo because I FEEL like a writer.

And I have an excuse to put off chores because I have “to write.”😉

I think writers either get NaNoWriMo, or they don’t. For some, it’s a waste of time. Why write 50,000 words, and go through all of that stress and trouble just to write trash?

And others appreciate and embrace the challenge of actually being productive – we’re no longer TALKING about writing, we’re DOING it.

I know, for me, NaNoWriMo has been my writing springboard. I’ve gone to college and taken quite a few writing classes. Which were great, and I HIGHLY recommend anyone halfway serious about writing in general to do so, BUT, it can actually be counterproductive because there are so many rules and guidelines you must remember that it can sometimes be overpowering, and even intimidating – so much so, that it can squash your creativity.

I think that’s what happened to me. I had been conditioned into thinking if I didn’t write well, then there was really no reason to write at all. That everything I wrote, needed to be worthy of public consumption.

Hogwash.

If you don’t write, you won’t get better. If you don’t get better, then how can you write anything worth reading?

I began the NaNoWriMo challenge in 2005. My novel was called “No Sleep, No Talk” and yes, it was as bad as the title implies. In fact, it stank – royally. I really didn’t have a concrete plot idea, I just sort of allowed my characters to lead me around. It was like feeling my way in a pitch black room; I had no idea where I was going, or where I had been. But man, I had fun writing it.

I have never once thought it was a waste of time. The experience, the LICENSE to let go and simply write whatever I wanted to was thoroughly liberating. I needed permission to let go of my preconceived ideas about writing and simply write. After crossing that 50,000 word line, I felt free, truly free, to be open and honest with my writing, for the first time in my life. I’ll never forget the experience.

In 2006, I wrote “Reality Check.” In fact, I plan on posting excerpts from that WIP on my regular blog every Thursday next month. I took a news article and built an entire story around it. After crossing that 50,000 word finish line, I realized that the premise, though interesting, was a bit far-fetched. Though I still think the idea is cool, I think it might work better for a short story as opposed to a novel-length work.

Last year, I wrote a mystery/suspense story entitled “Broken Silence.” In essence, it was centered around a group of people who lived on a cul-de-sac and who found themselves stranded after a nasty ice storm raged through. The story was basically trying to survive the elements, each other and some unknown force that was causing people to just … disappear. I still think the idea is marketable. In fact, I will likely go back to my project and rewrite it because that’s how confident I am about this idea. I based this idea on my own real-life experience. In 2006, we had an ice storm dump five inches of ice on us. Our city shut down. Seventy-five percent of the city lost power and we went into survival mode. My family was without electricity for almost 12 days. It was a test of my character, and the characters of those around me.

This year, I plan on writing a romance story. I’ve denied myself the genre I really love the most for long enough. It has nothing to do with the sexy parts, though there is that, but I’ve always been fascinated with relationships in general – just WHY do men and women connect, anyway?

My story will be based around a NASCAR driver. This driver will have two possible love interests to juggle, an old family stigma to overcome, and other jealous, spiteful rivals to dodge. It will be fun, dangerous, exciting and sexy all at once.

At least, I hope so.

I plan on starting my story off with a prologue because I’m a big proponent of killer beginnings – as referenced in yesterday’s “Constructing Scenes” post – and then beginning my story with an accident, a life-changing accident.

I’m REALLY looking forward to sinking my teeth into this project.

I will outline the prologue and possibly the first two chapters. After that, I will likely follow my characters around, that’s just the way I work.

I plan on writing between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., because I have found, through trial and error, that those seem to be my most creatively productive hours.

I will likely write on my trusty and well-used laptop And I will likely leave my house to write because I have learned, through trial and error, I get way too distracted when I stay home.

My goal is to write 2,000 words per day. I’d like to write more as my overall goal this year is to reach 60,000 words – or finish the story, whichever comes first.🙂 It’s a lofty goal, perhaps even unrealistic considering I have a slew of family birthdays, Thanksgiving and of course work to squeeze in there somewhere, but I will try my best.

And now, I’m tired. I’ve talked enough. I’m ready to sit back and listen to what ya’ll have to say about YOUR projects. So, here are some questions for you, please answer them in the comment section (Or, tomorrow is Say it On Saturday – feel free to talk more about your project then).

1. Do you have an idea for your NaNoWriMo project?

2. What instrument will you be writing your novel on?

3. Where will you likely be writing most of your story?

4. When will you likely write your story?

5. What is your daily word count goal?

6. Have you participated in past NaNoWriMo’s? How many years have you won?

7. What do you think about NaNoWriMo in general? A waste of time? Or beneficial?

Thank you again for sticking around this week. I sincerely hope these past posts have helped you prepare for this challenge, or for your writing in general.

Get organized and get ready to write your fingers off!

Karen wishes everyone a very fun and productive 2009 NaNoWriMo!! You can find out more about Karen at her journal, Write From Karen, or sample a bit of her creative writing at Fiction Fix.

Come back tomorrow and we’ll try a little NaNoWriMo warm-up exercise.

3 Comments
  1. October 23, 2009 5:26 pm

    1. Do you have an idea for your NaNoWriMo project? Yes…I have the plot, characters, outlining, title of book and am now working on chapter titles. That way I can just write and not have to think about them later.

    2. What instrument will you be writing your novel on? PC – Word Perfect and yWriter5. I also plan on cutting down a couple of trees.

    3. Where will you likely be writing most of your story? Mostly in my office but I tend to write while I’m supposed to be sleeping so my bedroom will probably be the second main area where I’ll be writing.

    4. When will you likely write your story? Honestly I haven’t thought too much about when. I tend to do most of my writing at night but lately that has changed. I plan on having a notepad with me all day plus my micro-recorder.

    5. What is your daily word count goal? – 2,000 is the minimum, I don’t have a max.

    6. Have you participated in past NaNoWriMo’s? How many years have you won? This will be my first NaNo

    7. What do you think about NaNoWriMo in general? A waste of time? Or beneficial? For me, I think it’s beneficial. I write poetry and flash fiction, have never written a short story or a novel before. I’ll be using NaNo to see if I can write a novel. I don’t feel it’s a waste of time. Everyone has things they put off, unfortunately writing is one of them when you have a lot of other things you’re dealing with. I think it gives people that extra push they need to get started on a project.

  2. October 27, 2009 4:48 pm

    1. Do you have an idea for your NaNoWriMo project? Yep! Taking a short story I wrote earlier this year for a class and completely re-writing it to novel length. The feedback class consensus was that it was a good story that needed to be a novel, and this is the motivation I need to work on it!

    2. What instrument will you be writing your novel on? My kickin’ new Macbook. It’s our first NaNo together.❤ I'll use iLife Pages supplemented by Write or Die and an old fashioned spiral notebook when I get blocked.

    3. Where will you likely be writing most of your story? Probably at home, in my room I want to try to do some lunch break writing at work/Panera/coffee shops though, and so my novel will start at a friend's house while I cat-sit for her this weekend. Kind of looking forward to the quiet place to get a jump start on my novel!

    4. When will you likely write your story? At night. Laaaate at night. By the time I get home from work, that's the only writing window I have most of the week.

    5. What is your daily word count goal? 2,000-ish is good, but I try not to be too rigid. Last year, I won NaNoWriMo even with spurts of non-productive writing weeks. Word count varies day to day.

    6. Have you participated in past NaNoWriMo’s? How many years have you won? Yep… this is my third year. first year was a 15K fail, but last year I won! Totally intend to win this year too.🙂

    7. What do you think about NaNoWriMo in general? A waste of time? Or beneficial? Unless you're already an productive, disciplined writer with an excellent work ethic that can turn out beautiful work without an arbitrary deadline hanging over your head… it's super beneficial. And if you are all that, it probably is beneficial to help you stop taking yourself so seriously.😉

    I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one that is a creature of procrastinating and perfectionist habits when it comes to writing. If no one is expecting me to turn it in, I tend to put it off. I like that at least for one month of the year, writing a novel draft feels as important as any other work, since so many others are writing along with me. And with such a big goal in such a small time, I have permission to write badly, with the hope that something worth keeping will emerge.

    So yeah. I love it! Winning last year got me excited about writing fiction again. Sure, it was a pretty bad novel, but it gave me some good characters to work with (one of them making an appearance in this year's story), and it inspired me to take a Creative Writing class and start writing again. I recommend anyone who has ever entertained the idea of writing a novel give it a try — whether you think you can write or not! The results may surprise you!

  3. October 27, 2009 9:46 pm

    1. Do you have an idea for your NaNoWriMo project?

    Yes, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror about the collapse of capitalism

    2. What instrument will you be writing your novel on?

    My brand new MacBook Pro 13″ using the awesome novel program, Scrivener.

    3. Where will you likely be writing most of your story?

    Mostly at work, I hope, if not, at home.

    4. When will you likely write your story?

    5. What is your daily word count goal?

    Whenever I can. I’m hoping at work between 9 to 5 but who knows…

    6. Have you participated in past NaNoWriMo’s? How many years have you won?

    This is my sixth year and I’ve never won.

    7. What do you think about NaNoWriMo in general? A waste of time? Or beneficial?

    I love it. I love how it motivates you to write, gives you confidence and there’s a real sense of community.

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