NaNoWriMo, Process, and December Writing Goals


I’m very proud of my efforts during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year.  I talked about that last week.  This week, I want to talk about NaNoWriMo in the greater context of my writing process.

Writing is a process.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you different.  That process also looks different for each and every author.  Some do more planning up front.  Some are like me and Terry Pratchett who said “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”  Some struggle over drafts and relish the chance to edit.  Others (like me) love the drafting process and get bogged down during revisions and edits.

My writing process is cyclical.  I’ll draft for a while, edit for a while, draft for a while, then edit some more.  I’ll also cycle between projects.  I draft project 3, then work on editing and revising project 2, then draft project 4 and then move on to another round of edits for project 1 or 2 or perhaps jump into editing project 3.  It’s not nearly as consistent as that, and the time period for each part varies greatly.  I might draft for a few weeks then edit for a few months or vice versa.

November is always a drafting month.  December is often a time I use for a break, but this year I want to try to keep going at least a little with my writing projects.  I’m planning to wrap up the ending for my NaNoWriMo 2018 novel even if I don’t have any immediate plans to fix it up for sharing.  (Sometimes a writing project is much more about enjoying writing it than it is about anything else.)  I’m also poking through some old drafts trying to decide what I want to work on next.  I probably should return to my revisions of Book two, but I’m hoping to get feedback from a couple more beta readers by the end of the year, so I think I’ll plan to hit the ground running with that in January.

So this December I’d like to do something writing related every day (maybe even on Christmas and New Year’s Eve).  This could be drafting the end of my NaNoWriMo project.  This could be working on blog posts.  This could be finding another project to work on editing.  It might even mean taking the time to watch some videos and learn how to use Scrivener a little better so I can try it out for my non-chronological time-bending novel that I have to determine a story order for.

NaNoWriMo seems to work well for me because outside people are aware of my writing and my project and there’s pressure to meet expectations (in a good way).  So I’m announcing my December goals to the world (and my friends who read this) so I’ll know that someone knows my plan, and that should help me stick to it.  These past few days have been hard, since I had a statistics exam to study for, but I’m feeling pretty comfortable with the material, so I think I was safe to take 20-30 minutes for writing each day before I started studying again.

Here’s to all of us with December writing goals.  May we meet them head on, push through the holiday stress and commitments, and come out at the end of the year with more than we started the month with.


NaNoWriMo Wrap Up


Today is the very last day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I wrote 67,831 words in 29 days, passing the 50,000 word mark (with 5,0005 words at time of validation) on November 22, 2018.  I’m spending most of today continuing to write my story in the hopes that I can reach “The End” before midnight.

It’s been a turbulent November this year.  I’m part of the Municipal Liaison team for my area (ML is a fancy term for an unpaid volunteer).  There are three of us.  The region is active enough that it needs three of us.  Due to work demanding time, energy, and overtime, for one co-ML and the other ending up sick not once but twice during November, I was a solo act for possibly half the month.  I know this was no fault of theirs, and I love them both dearly for doing as much as they did while overwhelmed with work/illness.  It just meant more time being an ML and slightly less time for writing.

On top of that, I’m taking a statistics course this fall.  I was involved in too many conversations at work that assumed I knew what things like standard deviations and sampling strategies were.  I know actually understand what those are.  I’m even fairly sure I can get above a C if I do well on the final, but that’s on the 7th, so it means more time taken away from my novel this last week as I start studying and keep up with new material.

Work has also been incredibly busy, so I’ve been able to take fewer long lunches and had fewer chances to leave early, which means less writing time as well.  But the wonderful thing about NaNoWriMo is that this doesn’t get in the way of my actually accomplishing something and getting a lot of writing done.  November is a time when I can justify putting off other things so that I can devote myself to writing.  I do a decent job of carving out time to write all year, but I really focus on it in November.  There’s less checking social media, less traveling (I love my family but Thanksgiving with them isn’t worth the drive anymore), less watching TV, and less cooking (thank you beloved husband).

And that right there, the time and space I’ve made to be creative and to write, that’s what NaNoWriMo is really about.  Yes, reaching the 50,000 word goal is awesome and comes with some nice coupon codes and other goodies, but mostly, it’s the writing time and the community that matter to me.  My NaNoWriMo community has become my friend group year-round.  I’ve also met some amazing people who are MLs in other areas, and it’s always great to see them each year, and interact with them on the ML forums year-round.

So even if 50,000 words of a new novel draft in thirty days seems intimidating, it’s not the end-all-be-all of NaNoWriMo.  Aim for the 1667 words per day as often as you can.  Be a rebel and use it as a way to finish an existing project or a short story collection.  Come into the experience knowing that 50,000 words is hard, but that you want to write as many words as you can.  Come for the community and the support and the joy of being creative with others.  Don’t discount the challenge just because it seems unattainable.  And that goes for a lot of things in life.  You never really know what you can accomplish if you don’t try.

So while it’s been a crazy month, it’s also been amazing.  My community rallied around me and was super supportive and helpful when I was running events without my co-MLs and they’ve been amazing at hosting events all month long.  Our online chat has been hopping almost every day.  The ML community has been amazing and supportive of me and all the others who are struggle with issues large and small.  So next year, if you don’t already, consider joining me on this crazy month-long adventure.

NaNoWriMo Winner!


So November has been a bit crazy.

I’m one of three Municipal Liaisons (volunteer leaders) for my local NaNoWriMo region.  My two co-MLs were felled by sickness and overtime at work for most of the past two weeks.  So I’ve been running solo what should have been a three-person job.  Which has been a little rough.

But I’ve done alright.  I reached 50,000 words yesterday (Thanksgiving) and validated for an official 50,005 (which as an awesome official win number).  I haven’t reached the end of my story, so I’ve kept working on it today and will continue through the end of the month.

But all of that has meant I’ve been exceptionally busy, which is why this is posting at 6pm, and not 10am as usual.

I should have time for a more thorough NaNoWriMo update for next week with a few more details about my story and all the things I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo this month.

Happy Friday!

Image Prompt 046 Response – The Watcher


I picked the image of the tunnel for my sprint this time around.  I was writing this during a write-in and we were doing ten minute sprints, so I wrote this in two sections and decided to try out two narrators.  A quick copy edit later, and you have the below scene.  I hope you enjoy.

The Watcher:

Xavier stood at the end of the tunnel waiting for the last of the daylight to fade.  None of it could reach him as long as he stayed near the door.  Melinda had warned him not to walk very far.  Even indirect light could be harmful.  It had been years since he’d seen even this much sunlight in person.

As the sun set, the lights seemed to brighten in the tunnel, making it an almost cheerful place.  It wasn’t quite sunset yet when someone slipped into the tunnel from outside.  The figure wore a heavy coat with a voluminous hood, so Xavier could tell almost nothing about them as they slowly walked forward.

“Who’s there?” the hooded figure whispered when they noticed Xavier.

“A keeper of the watch,” Xavier replied.  That’s what Melinda had told him to say to anyone who came into the tunnel.  Those who answered appropriately were to be allowed inside.  Those who did not were to be run off if harmless or detained if a threat.

“It has been a long time since the watch was kept,” the hooded figure said.  The voice was still soft, it’s timber somewhere in the tenor range, which told Xavier precious little about who stood before him.

That wasn’t the answer Melinda had told him to accept, so Xavier tensed, ready to deal with this intruder as needed.

“May the watch be quiet and the evening still,” the figure said as they continued to approach Xavier.

Those were the proper words.

“You would do better to reply properly,” Xavier said softly.

“Apologies,” the figure said, pushing back their hood.  “It has been a long time since anyone has properly kept the watch here, and it took a moment to remember the appropriate response.”

Xavier gazed into the other man’s deep blue eyes and wondered who he was.

“You are new among her flock?” the man asked.

Xavier shrugged and stepped back toward the door.

“Well trained I see,” the man said with a chuckle.  “Melinda was always good at finding those who could hold their tongues.

Xavier nodded and checked the tunnel one last time before turning to unlock the door.  This one would be allowed inside.


Francesco smiled at Melinda’s new guard before walking through the door.  He must have been relatively young.  He didn’t seem practiced at his role yet.

“You’re early,” Melinda said as Francesco walked into the receiving hall.

“I do what I can,” Francesco replied, carefully removing his gloves.

“You must have made improvements to that thing if you’re able to arrive right at sunset,” Melinda said.

“I have indeed,” Francesco answered.  “It’s hard to get away with such things in the summer months when the coat is so out of season, but in winter, I can walk around whenever I please without risk.”

“And are you willing to share yet?” Melinda asked.

“Unfortunately, I can only make a few at a time,” Francesco replied.  “Custom orders only, and they won’t come cheap.”

“Just let me know how to place orders,” Melinda said.  “I know of several with interest even if there’s a significant wait.”

“I’ll send you the information,” Francesco said as he took a seat across from Melinda at the large table.  “Are others coming today?”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

“Who’s your new toy?” he asked.  He knew she generally preferred women to manage her affairs, and only kept men around as guards or play things.

“Xavier is no toy,” Melinda replied.  “He’s exceptionally good at his job.”

“Is he now?” Francesco asked, smiling even wider.

“Your fangs are showing” Melinda said, the disdain obvious in her voice.

“And why shouldn’t they?” he asked.  “You have your own, what is it to me if you see them?”

“You must be staying isolated if you no longer care about such things.”

“I live in and among them as I always have,” he replied.  “The advantage of coming to your establishment is the chance to let my guard down and not worry about such things for a while.”

Melinda frowned at him.

“I won’t reveal us,” Francesco assured her.  “Though I would like a chance to speak to Xavier if he is so good at his job.”

“He’s not available,” Melinda said.

“Not even for a conversation?” Francesco asked.

“The last time I let you have a conversation with one of my men, I never saw him again,” Melinda reminded him.

“Well, if you haven’t told this one to try to kill me, that won’t be an issue,” he replied.  He wasn’t going to let her forget that it had been her who was the aggressor back then.  She’d been threatened by his research.

“He’s working,” Melinda replied.

“Not all the time,” he countered.

“What are you planning?” she asked, narrowing her eyes at him.

“I simply wish to talk to the man,” Francesco said.  “Not steal him away.”

Image Prompt 046 – Edinburgh and Tunnel


It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Image Prompt 046-001 2018-11-09 Calton Hill 001

Image Prompt 046-002 2018-11-09 Tunnel to Mack and Mack09-03-13 002

NaNoWriMo: Day 2 Update


It’s day two of National Novel Writing Month.  The Midnight Madness first write-in (10pm-2am) went amazingly well this year.  We had a costume contest featuring a daemon, a minotaur, and a teddy bear.  At least half of attendees reached the 1667 word par for the first day before they left.  There was so much sugar and caffeine.  Even running on low sleep and being up for 20+ hours by midnight, it was amazing and fun, and I wrote more than two thousand words.

I then went home to sleep for a few hours before hosting my first write-in later that morning.  Attendance hasn’t been super high, but it’s a weekday.  There is a ton of activity on our online chat and the region really seems to be taking off with activity this year even with fewer than average homed writers.  It’s all very exciting, and I can’t wait to get to know all the new people that have joined the challenge this year.

I’ve gotten a good feel for one of my characters and I’m on the way to knowing the second and I’m really excited about my little near-ish future science fiction romance story.  It’s going to be so much fun.

As of going to bed on Thursday, I had 4,344 words.  I’m super excited about this year and I want to keep my momentum up so that I can get all my words in, support other writers in my region, and keep up with my statistics class.

Happy National Novel Writing Month everyone!

Count Down to NaNoWriMo


There’s only six more days before November 1st and the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  I’m beyond excited at this point.  November is my favorite month of the year because of all the fun I have during the yearly writing challenge.

This year is going to be a bit more challenging for me.  Usually, getting my 50,000 words written is pretty easy.  I am blessed with some built in times for writing, like my 30+ minute bus commute to and from work, and my lunch hours at the office, and I type over 90 words a minute when the ideas are flowing.  This year I’m also taking a statistics class for some professional development.  Class time counts toward my work hours (because my supervisor is awesome) but that still means I have to make time for keeping up with readings, homework, and studying throughout the month.  I didn’t start doing NaNoWriMo until after I finished graduate school, so I’ve never had to balance classes and writing during November.  I expect I will have even more admiration and respect for students who complete the challenge by the end of next month.

That said, I’m going into the month with my usual dedication to writing 50,000 words on my own project and being there to support and cheer on others in my region.  I’ve stocked up on quick and simple meals that I can easily eat while writing (yes, that means a lot of sandwiches for lunches).  I’ve gotten ahead on my school work as much as feasible so that I have a little bit of a buffer there as well.  I’ve scheduled everything I can to be before or after November in the rest of my life, and I’ve reminded my family that I don’t travel at Thanksgiving anymore.  I’ve restocked my supply of prompts and challenges for write-ins, and gotten all of my write-ins scheduled for the month as well.

As far as actually planning for what I’m writing in November, I’m much less prepared.  This is business as usual.  I’m still trying to decide on which idea I’m going to be working on, and there’s less than a week left to plan and brainstorm in advance.

I’m thinking about working on a story that’s set in the world of my Swords & Shields series, but I haven’t decided which characters I want to follow or what kind of story I want to tell.  I still haven’t written a proper vampire story, and I’ve been playing around with the rules for dragons and some character ideas for those, and I want to write a story more focused on the witches as well, but can’t seem to decide between all my options.  There are too many fun ideas to explore.

I’m also toying with the idea of something completely different and removed from reality like a new science fiction novel or an epic historically set fantasy.  I could use a little escape from reality right now for a variety of reasons, so maybe writing something completely removed from the everyday world would be helpful.

At the moment, I’m still completely undecided.  We’ll see if something catches my attention this week or if I’m still hemming and hawing on Halloween.