So, remember my big plans to finish the novel manuscript that I didn’t finish during NaNoWriMo? Well, that is taking a bit longer than I anticipated. Last week, I had good excuses–Chanukah, the fact my kids had a few days off of school, and it was an editing week for me. Continue reading
It’s now four days into December, and NaNoWriMo is all wrapped up. The goal was to write 50,000 words, and I will tell you straight up: I did not make it to 50,000 words.
But, the good news is, I wrote about 39,000. That’s great! I’ve never written a number of words anywhere near that big in any other month, ever. I’m glad I signed up for NaNo, because had I not, I’m pretty sure I would have written zero words of that book.
I’m hoping to work consistently on that manuscript throughout December. If I do that, I should have a complete first draft around January 1st.
Working through the ups and downs of NaNoWriMo taught me a few things, and reminded me of a few others.
- When I’m going “off outline” and start to panic, if I keep writing, sometimes I come up with something better than what I originally outlined.
- Forcing myself to write daily meant that sometimes I wasn’t in the mood or was distracted or was just plain tired by the time I got some time to sit by myself and write. But occasionally, those very “I’m not in the right headspace” moments turned into my most creative. Weird-but-cool stuff would come out that if I’d been calm and in my usual efficient state of mind, I probably would never have dreamed up.
- That little “Project Target” widget in Scrivener is priceless. All I wanted to do from the moment I clicked on it each day was watch it turn from read to green as I approached my targeted word count for the day. Also, I can see that the Project Target is getting closer and closer to green, and it’s making me persist past November 30th.
- Pushing forward without editing is helping me just keep chugging along. It’s so hard to fight the desire to just fix, fix, fix to perfection as I move along, but I’ll never finish that way.
Anyway, I’ve got a few short pieces I’ve been wanting to work on, and I think I’m just pushing them off until January (excepting those due back to my normal employers, because: deadlines! paychecks!) so I can finish this novel. I have a bad feeling that if I stop now, I’ll never, ever finish.
Now, some questions for you:
-Did you do NaNoWriMo?
-If yes, did you “win”?
-If you didn’t win, what lessons did you learn?
-And if you did, what’s your next step?
So, I’m about 13 days into NaNoWriMo, and still working on my new book. I’m not really writing as fast as I’d like — not even averaging 1000 words a day. But I *am* making progress.
It’s interesting: I felt like I’d prepared well in advance, with one exception. I didn’t get to visit the setting of the middle of the book (a local landmark) before November 1st. Because I outlined in advance, I know pretty much what I want to write in each chapter. But I’m having a lot of problem with the middle scenes, largely because I can’t picture the setting as well as I’d like. G-d willing, we’ll take care of this on Sunday by making a family visit to that location.
I’m also finding writing the “middle act” of the book challenging for other reasons. The middle act is notoriously hard to write, because it tends to sag. You need to maintain suspense, and keep tightening the screws on the main character, while slowly guiding him or her to the ultimate conclusion.
Beginnings are challenging to write, as are conclusions. But I think middles are the hardest of all.
The good news is that because I outlined, I’ve been able to write the final three chapters of the book even with a big, empty spot in the center of the manuscript. I’ll probably gets some of that middle act written within the next couples days, and then hopefully that visit on Sunday will help me pull everything together.
Another strange thing happening is that I’m so focused on writing right now that I’m having problems reading fiction right now. Reading someone else’s well-written middle act, complete with intense suspense, is kinda more than I can handle! Instead of being an escape, a couple novels stressed me out! I’m hoping to polish them off after I get over the middle act hump.
In non-NaNoWriMo news: I wrote a short story I’m hoping to workshop this week with my writing group. My husband thinks it’s very, very weird, but a friend enjoyed it very much last week, and I have high hopes. I’ve also got a couple essays I’m working on.
Writers: what are you working on? Let me know in the comments.
Tomorrow is November 1st, aka the first day of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. I’m all set to go, but feeling very nervous. I’m G-d willing going to be trying out some new software, and I’ve got a partner and a couple online groups for support. And I’ll report back with progress in a week or so.
I’ve got a few tricks to help me out. My great friend, Devorah Talia, suggested an app to me. The app, called Toggl, is free, and helps monitor time spent on jobs. Not only is it helping me make my invoices for freelance editing jobs, it gives me a bit of accountability on what I’m working on. Since starting to use it, I can really see where I waste time, but actually how much time I’m productive, too.
Despite my big NaNoWriMo project, I’m doing other writing, too. I have to write two humor columns in November. And this evening, I spent a big chunk of time writing a dvar Torah to present in my synagogue on Shabbos morning to a group of women. It’s been a while since I’ve taught the parshah of the week, and I got very, very excited about my thesis. A long talk with my husband helped me formulate my ideas, he gave me an additional piece of evidence, and now I’m set to go. I’m hoping to get some feedback on an essay and rewrite it, too.
And I have a couple picture book ideas bouncing around my head, too.
Usually, I’m not exactly a font of creativity at this time of year. This is the season in which I usually start to fade into a hibernation that lasts until Tu B’Shevat, roughly at the end of January. I’m hoping to hold onto my energy and imagination long enough to complete some of these projects!
Sorry I totally disappeared for a while there! Aside from the obvious (the Jewish holidays that crowd Tishrei), I had other reasons for going AWOL. The biggest one is that I started a new writing gig! I have a new humor column in The Jewish Home Los Angeles, so I’ve been writing that in edition to my usual fiction and editing regimen.
Here’s my last column: https://jewishhomela.com/2017/09/28/humor-an-angeleno-sukkos/
The next one is due out on newstands in L.A. tomorrow.
Now that Simchas Torah is over, I’m hoping to return to my weekly blogging schedule already in progress.
Aside from the new column, my big writing goal in the short term is attempting NaNoWriMo for the first time. That means I’ll be attempting to write the first draft of an entire novel in the month of November! I’ve been working on a plot outline, doing a tiny but necessary bit of research, and will be creating some character profiles, too, before November arrives. That should make the writing process go a little smoother, I think.
Anyone else out there planning to write a novel in November?
NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, running for the month of November each year. By November 30th, participants hope to finish writing a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel. Some people try to fly solo, but most participants sign up on the official website. The website offers guidance about pacing, tracks your progress, and provides support. NaNoWriMo has resulted in some book sales for participants, but many others say it taught them discipline, skills and persistence that helped them with future projects.
If your book idea is Jewish and for kids, there’s also (mentioned in a previous blog) the “Write Your Own Megillah” event.
Truthfully, I have a few novel ideas out there, and it would be good to have an outside source telling me to crank out a draft in one month. But I’m still working on my last novel, still hoping to sell it, and still have deadlines for my magazine work to meet. Plus, I probably need to add another part-time job to my plate for financial reasons.
So I keep wavering. Should I or shouldn’t I? Should I or shouldn’t I? It’s like balancing two different categories of responsibility.