I’m a NaNo Loser and Proud of It

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

closeup photography of loser scrabble letter

Photo by Shamia Casiano on Pexels.com

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Trade-offs: editing vs writing

I’ve been spending a lot of time copyediting (and proofreading and plain ole editing) the last couple weeks.

I have not been spending a lot of time writing.

I have mixed feelings. Editing brings in money. It is easier. I get paid faster, at least usually. I get a certain pleasure from helping other people sound clever and polished.

But I have my own projects to complete. In between editing, I’ve been revising a story I wrote last year, and I wrote a tiny piece of flash fiction yesterday while my kids did their homework at the library. However, I’ve got more to write, so much more. The ideas zoom around my head at night.

I worry that I’m trading a bit of quick money for my own creative accomplishments. Yet there are bills to pay.

Hmpf.

‘Tis the season for applications: 10 Essay Tips for Students Applying to College

Although I’m mostly known for my writing, I also do a bit of proofreading and editing. And the most common thing for me to proofread at this time of year is a college application essay.

Now, I’ve been looking at those essays for over twenty years – basically, since I was a high school senior myself. Back in the day, we had to type their final drafts onto our applications, of course.  typewriter

I’ve seen some wonderful college essays, and some terrible ones, in my time. I’m going to offer a few tips based on my experience. These tips apply to college application essays, but also to applications for scholarships, internships, and even many assignments.

I will not cover proofreading – which you can often get assistance with from a teacher, parent, or guidance counselor. If you proofread your own essays – and you should do so first, even if you are going to get help later – just make sure you wait at least a day or two after writing the essay to do the proofreading. Otherwise, you will likely not notice your errors.

TIPS FOR COLLEGE & SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION ESSAYS

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Writing lesson: Do your interview and only then decide what kind of article you’re writing

As I mentioned in a post a few days ago, I pitched a short feature to a magazine and had it accepted. It required some interviews. I did three of them this week, and then sat down to write.

When I originally conceived the article, it was to promote a program in the “Happenings” section of the local Jewish paper. But as I read over the notes I’d taken, I realized the content of the interviews had a deeper significance than the simple 5 Ws and an H about the event. Continue reading

What does it take to get you writing? 5 things that get my tuchas in the chair when I don’t want to write

It didn’t even wait until Fall Back: I’ve been in the dragging, low-creativity state that usually hits me at this time of year for weeks already. It’s not really full-blown SAD, thank G-d, but it’s more a fog in which I feel low-energy and short on ideas. My mood’s okay, just kinda blah. I don’t feel like doing much except curl up with a book and eat chocolate and hang out with Mr. Klempner.

When this feeling first hit, the week after Sukkos, I had so many appointments (long delayed check-ups, for example) and errands I’d put off until after the holidays (new headbands, anyone?) that I didn’t have much time to sit down and write. But after a week or two, those things were taken care of, and I had time to sit at the computer.

Nothing doing. I felt limp. Sleepy. About as creative as a stone.

I’m still feeling that way this week, but today, I was shockingly productive. Why?

Because being a writer is about writing. And the number one way to write is to just stick your tush in the chair and do it.

5 Things That Get My Tuchas in the Chair When I Don’t Really Feel Like Writing: Continue reading

Why Endings So Often Disappoint Readers

I’ve posted about the difficulty of nailing an ending before. More than once, I’ve had to completely abandon the conclusion of my rough draft and write an entirely new ending. When I said in the title of this post that endings “disappoint,” I really wanted to use that word that Bart Simpson made popular in the late ’80s that some of my readers insist is almost as bad as actual profanity. I’ll refrain.

I’m thinking about endings because Continue reading