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Post-NaNoWrimo Thoughts And Stats

How did I go?

Most days I stayed on track, but I often slipped behind by a day or so, so this year I was often playing catch-up. With NaNoWriMo ending on a Wednesday and with my health unpredictable at night time (I have a severe allergy to pepper, and sometimes you can’t be certain it’s not included in processed food even if you do read the ingredients) I ended up writing 3K on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before the Wednesday so I knew I would finish a couple of days early.

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Did I Achieve My Goal?

Since my goal was to complete NaNo and knowing it wouldn’t be the whole book, yeah, I did achieve my goal.

Also, my goal was to write a love triangle where the girl is in love with one guy but having it off with another and boy, that was hard to navigate. It’s hard to define love against desire and mutual benefits. It’s hard tow rite why she’s a better match for one or the other, or perhaps she’s a better sexual match for one and romantic match for the other. Ever since on of my novels got rejected because the editor didn’t understand why my couple were in love despite me building a companionship and mutual interests and common backgrounds with them, I’ve been neurotic about “why does this character love this character? How do you show it? WHAT IS LOVE EVEN?” I don’t even know. How do I know I love my husband? I just do. How can you convince someone reading a book of the same thing?

What did I learn?

I learned that after a full day at work, a one and a half hour round trip driving to pick my husband up from work, and then sitting in a chair to write nearly 2000 words for a couple of hours is EXHAUSTING. Not just physically exhausting but mentally exhausting as well. I don’t know how authors with day jobs do it, to be honest. Sometimes I was nodding off at my computer at 10pm.

I learned that even writing 3-5K words per day is a huge mental challenge and those who write 10K a day consistently and claim it’s easy are either insane or don’t care about the quality of their work (or don’t have day jobs).

I learned that I work best when I break it up into 1000 word chunks and tackle those one at a time.

I learned that when I’m struggling, I update my word count every 200 words, but when it’s flowing I can write nearly 800 or so before I remember to update my word count.

I learned I really like updating my word count.

I learned I quite like being a planster – that’s the hip new word for people who both plot and ‘pants’ their novel (writing by the seat of their pants/unplanned). I had a vague summary and split it into the the required number of words I estimated I’d need for each act in a 3 act story, but I left a lot of it blind so a) I didn’t know what would happen and feel discouraged to write it and b) I had room to wriggle and play with the word count.

I actually don’t feel burned out this time. I feel quite eager to continue on and finish the book.

How’s the book going?

Like the last time I did NaNo, in 2014, the book’s not finished. I think I might need around 10 or even another 20K to wrap up it up. When I finished 2014’s book, I wrote an extra 13K. I’m not sure how much longer this book will need, as I only have a vague outline in my head and the final page already written.

I did have one particular scene I was really looking forward to writing, but due to my planster-ing, the book changed direction and I never got to write it.

Normally I hit a mental wall at about 10-15K and find it really hard to push through, but because I planned a lot of the early part of the novel I just rocketed past my usual wall laughing all the way. Also, there were no walls this time. Maybe because it’s a sequel?

What’s in store for the future?

I will always attempt NaNoWriMo unless there’s some kind of catastrophe in my life, so at the moment I’m planning on doing it next year. However, I want to write the third book in this trilogy before then, so I don’t know what next year’s novel will be.

Did you do NaNoWriMo this year? How did your writing go?

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Unconventional Tools for Writing: DollDivine Dressmaker

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I’ve used DollDivine before to recreate the Disney Princesses in my blog series studying the Disney Princesses. It was fun to recreate the iconic outfits as best I could with the limited designs offered.

In my writing, I often skip over what a person is wearing. I love clothing descriptions in the literature I read, but I tend to just see faces when I’m writing, and I forget to describe what a character is wearing.

DollDivine is one of my favourite procrastination destinations because it can be useful as well. See, all these pretty clothes I design, well, maybe my characters can wear them! And then when I’m struggling to describe what my characters are wearing, I have a visual reference right in front of me!

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Yes, Tally’s face is different in all the dolls and no, I don’t know why I gave her a wolf in the second one. Maybe it’s Ash?

I find the combined fun of working on the outfits and then being able to describe them really help me in my writing!

Are there any unconventional tools you use to help with your writing?

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NaNoWriMo: Research

I’ve mentioned before that it’s my curse to do a whole heap of research so I know exactly what I’m talking about for something that may just be an incidental prop.

It’s based on the whole ‘write what you know’ standard.

If I want to write about, for example, a pig farm, even if it’s only in one scene, I have to do some research to find out how to breed pigs, when piglets are born, how many in a litter, and then due to a character’s throwaway line I had to research why humans don’t typically consume pig’s milk.

I found out some fascinating stuff:

  • Pig’s milk is higher in fat and more watery than cow’s milk, but much harder to milk.
  • Cows get oxcytocin for about 4 minutes once they start being milked, which helps prolong the milking: pigs only get 15 seconds, enough to get the piglet suckling.
  • Cows can also get pregnant while lactating, while pigs cannot.

I don’t mention those above facts in the story, but it sure answered my question of why don’t human consume pig’s milk, and helped my understanding of the subject. Now I can confidently write about why humans don’t consume pig milk!

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NaNoWriMo Motivation: Schmoyoho & JackSepticEye’s ‘All the Way’

NaNoWriMo is upon us, and although I said previously I was writing in silence (I still am), I have found a great song to get me motivated in the mornings, and I’m finding it applicable to NaNoWriMo wordchasers as well!

If you haven’t heard of him (and I hadn’t until a few months ago), JackSepticEye is one of the most popular Youtubers and is one of those lads who posts video game commentaries.

Some people don’t understand why anyone would rather ‘watch’ than ‘play’ games. I’ve had a few experiences that sums up why I’m a watcher:

  • I’m a casual gamer. I get bored really quickly playing games. Except for The Sims, which I can play literally for hours. (that being said I am the Queen of MarioKart)
  • I’m the younger sibling of a gamer. That meant when I was a kid, it was my job to sit there quietly and watch him play games, and if I ever played one with him and beat him, he’d punch me. You get used to coming second in racing games a lot. Mostly it was my job to watch the mini-map during WarCraft II campaigns.
  • My husband is a gamer, and he likes to play games that are good to watch, the kind that play almost like films. We posted a run through of Until Dawn that we played ‘together’ to his YouTube channel.
  • I can’t even walk straight in Gears of War.
  • After watching my best friend play Batman: Arkham Asylum, and solving a few puzzles for him (I’m a nautral puzzle solver, which is why I like the Professor Layton games), I figured I could play it, it didn’t look too hard. Well, I tried, and I got too scared being Batman, and had to hand it over to my husband when he got home from work.

JackSepticEye was songified by Schmoyoho.

Be warned, this is NSFW due to language.

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NaNoWriMo: No One’s Forcing You

Someone from Book Riot whom I’m not even going to bother naming or linking to because it’s just the most riiculous thing I’ve ever read wrote a post on how ‘you don’t have to write that novel during NaNoWriMo’.

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NaNoWriMo is a tool.

NaNoWriMo is an excellent time of year for those of us who have no time to write otherwise. It gives us something to explain to those parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, why we can’t go out because we’re attempting to write a novel in one month and this is the only time of year it happens.

Or those of us who have ‘been writing’ a novel for years but just can’t seem to finish it.

Giving yourself a set amount of words and a time limit helps.

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Not everyone is going to want to do it.

Not everyone wants to write a novel.

But those who do can use the encouragement NaNo can bring.

It’s not easy.

I failed in 2012 when my computer exploded just before Back Up Your Novel day.

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I didn’t even both entering in 2015 because I was taking a break from all writing to care for my mentally ill husband.

But every other year I’ve entered, I’ve ‘won’.

In 2010, I finished my first long-form (and trunked) novel in October before I tacked The Edge of Darkness in November. That long-form novel took me six years  to write. The Edge of Darkness took me one month.

I’ve started plenty of novels since then, but I’ve never actually finished anything unless it was a NaNo novel.

NaNoWriMo is something you do for fun.

No one’s forcing you.

In 2015, there were only 431,626 participants.

That’s less than half a million across the world.

Oh sure, it might seem like everyone‘s doing it, but that’s just because you’ve got your foot in the industry. Who’s most likely to be doing NaNo? Online writers, bloggers, book lovers. We encourage social media attention. We blast our climbing word counts from the skies.

And sure, you can quit if you want.

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In 2015, only 40,000 made the minimum word count and verified their novels.

40,000 out of 431,626.

And not everyone is a long-form writer. In 2013 I rebelled, and used the 50,000 word count to finish a trilogy of novellas that I’d already started. (It was then I decided I probably wasn’t really suited to really long books anyway, because I burn out after a big project like Storm of Blood.)

No One Has To Read It

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I like to publish my NaNo novels. I like my writing to be decent. I don’t word pad or list things or any of the other tricks savvy NaNoers slip into their manuscripts to up their word count. I’m trying to write a decent story with decent language the first time round so it’s easier to edit.

But not everyone wants their NaNo novel to see the light of day, and that’s okay.

Writing can be a chore*, especially when you don’t want to write, but that’s the beauty of NaNo: it encourages you to write every day, even when you don’t want to. And you know what? Sometimes on those days where you really can’t be bothered but you do it anyway, you can end up really enjoying it and writing absolute gems.

And this year I do feel a bit like it’s a chore because with my #supersekritproject I’ve found another way to tell stories that I’m actually enjoying almost more than I am writing my NaNo novel. I’m still loving my NaNo novel, I’m just super excited to launch the new project.

If you don’t want to write a novel in November but you feel that you should, maybe you need to examine why you feel that way.

*Some people say don’t write if it’s a chore, but I don’t listen to them.