How To Catch Up On NaNoWriMo (even if you’re really, really, really behind)

So, I’ve won NaNoWriMo for the past seven years. Some years I’ve won in two weeks. Other years I’ve scrambled to write 10,000 words on November 30th to make the goal. Some years I liked what I wrote, and sometimes I hated it. But one way or another, I always manage to reach the word goal.

We’re in the last week of NaNoWriMo 2015––and I don’t know about all you crazy NaNo participants out there, but I’m a little behind. If you, like me, need some help catching up, here are a few tips that have helped me win in the past:

Work on an outline.

Notice I didn’t say “you have to outline your entire book!!!!!” because you don’t. If that’s what floats your boat, you can! But personally, I’m a big fan of outlining and writing simultaneously. That is, outline a few chapters, write those chapters, outline some more chapters, write those chapters … lather, rinse, repeat. I’ve found this to be a good way to plan without taking away the fun and spontaneity of writing a first draft.

Don’t think.

Seriously, don’t. You know that voice in your head that keeps telling you your writing sucks? Ignore it. Tell it to shut the heck up. First drafts are supposed to suck, so go as crazy with that first draft as you can. You can always fix typos, awkward sentences, and plot holes later.

Skip over what you don’t know.

I try not to skip over too much, but there are definitely many times when I just don’t know where/how to end a chapter. I’m getting bored and stuck and I just want to move on. So, guess what? I move on! If that chapter is holding you up and you’re more excited about the next part, skip to that part and start working. Remember, kids––it’s a first draft. You can fix those awkward holes in the story later on.

Use Write or Die.

Write or Die has saved my butt so many times. It’s gotten me through novels, essays, you name it. It’s a pretty simple website (there’s also a desktop version) where you set a word goal and a time limit. If you stop typing for too long, the screen turns red and it starts making noises at you.

If you prefer positive reinforcement, you can also try Written? Kitten!––a website where your writing is rewarded with cute pictures of kittens.

Do some word wars/sprints.

I enjoy doing word wars year-round, but there are especially a lot of people doing them online during NaNo. The rules are simple: 2 or more people write for the same amount of time, and whoever writes the most wins! And hey, even if you don’t win, you still wrote a bunch of words––woohoo!

There’s an ongoing, 24/7 sprint thread in the NaNoWriMo Facebook group. On Twitter, @NaNoWordSprints runs sprints pretty much all day, every day throughout November. There are also a lot of year-round word war & sprint hashtags on Twitter such as #wordsprint, #1k1hr, and #wordgrab.

If you don’t have Facebook/Twitter (or you’re trying to avoid them during NaNo!), you can always head over to the NaNoWriMo forums, where there is a whole section dedicated to Word Wars, Prompts, and Sprints.

Do a word crawl.

Maybe you don’t like competition and/or you’d like to work a bit at your own pace, but you still want a challenge. In that case, word crawls may work very well for you! Word crawls are a series of mini challenges (i.e. write 250 words, write for 10 minutes, or write 3% of your current word count). They often have some kind of a fun theme, and there are a lot of cool ones on the NaNo forums such as the Extreme Harry Potter Crawl. I hadn’t tried word crawls until this year, but I’ve been having a lot of fun with them and they’re really boosting my word count.

So, thus ends my advice about how to catch up on NaNo. Now I should probably go follow my own advice, because I am about 3,000 words behind schedule right now. 😉

For my fellow NaNos: How are you doing? And do you have any advice for people who are struggling to catch up?

Also, happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hopefully I will have time to write some words before I eat tons of food.

Music Monday: 11/23/15 – NaNo Edition! (pt. 3)

Happy Monday to you all! Hope all your weeks are off to a good start. Personally, I don’t have much to do today so I am frantically trying to catch up on NaNo (once again).

Thank you for joining me in another special NaNo edition of Music Monday! As you may or may not know, this month all my Music Mondays are dedicated to sharing songs that are inspiring my current NaNo novel.

The two songs I have chosen this week are a bit of a stretch, I suppose––neither fits my NaNo novel lyrically, but I really love the mood of both, and they have definitely been pumping me up to write recently!

Woodlock – Build a Kingdom

I’ve been keeping an eye on this Australian band for a while, and I hope that at some point they’ll get the recognition they deserve. Woodlock has put out some great songs over the past few years, and their newest EP, Sirens, gives me high hopes that they are going places. “Build a Kingdom” is my favorite track from it. Something about it just feels so immense and I feel so inspired every time I listen to it. What’s interesting about this song is that it’s kind of folksy, but then it has this kinda dubstep thing going on also??? I don’t know, but it’s definitely an interesting blend of genres that I don’t hear often.

Eliza and the Bear – Lion’s Heart

Eliza and the Bear is yet another super underrated band (in my opinion). Although they have yet to release a full album, they’ve released a couple of really solid EPs and singles. “Lion’s Heart” is one of their most recent releases, and it’s one of my favorites of theirs. 🙂

So, those are my choices this week!

If you would also like to participate in Music Monday:

• Every Monday, share 1-2 songs. It can be any genre, it can be something new or it can be an old favorite. Whatever you want!
• Share a music/lyric video of the song.
• Tell us some of your thoughts/feelings about the song, artist, and/or music video.
• Submit the link to your blog post at the bottom of Lauren’s post here (where it says “Add your link”).

Stay tuned for more posts!

NaNoWriMo: Week Three

I can’t believe we’re already heading into the last week of NaNo already! I feel like I just started my novel, and yet it’s crazy to think how much it’s changed and how much progress I’ve already made since the beginning.

Current WC/CC: 33,684 words / 14 chapters

Progress Since Last Week: 14,341 words / 6 chapters

How It’s Going:

Wow, I did so much better this week than I did last week. That’s partly due to the fact that, on Wednesday, I wrote nearly 6k words in one day. It was crazy and a lot of work, but I finally got myself back on schedule.

I’ve gotten really into doing “word crawls,” which are series of challenges people post on the NaNoWriMo forums, and they usually have some kind of fun theme. Right now I’m working on the “Extreme Harry Potter Crawl” which has been very helpful to me so far!

Today I’m a little behind, and now it’s nearly 5 PM and I haven’t written anything yet, but I plan to change that very soon. Yesterday was a very busy day for me so I didn’t have enough time to reach the daily word goal. Hopefully tonight I can catch up.

As for the story it’s … happening. After introducing a million different characters and plot lines, I feel like things are starting to come together and I’ve nearly gotten into the central conflict and whatnot.

An Excerpt From This Week:

“This is a necessary strategy if we are to make the progress we need,” Cyrus said. “You may not believe me now, but I can tell you … I’ve been working for years studying anatomy, and I have made some miraculous recent discoveries. With your help, I could bring these discoveries to light. We could achieve something great, the two of us.”

Although Matthias was intrigued, another part of him argued that Cyrus was probably lying or insane––or both.

“Not to mention, I am willing to pay you handsomely,” the professor added.

“I don’t need the money.”

“Perhaps not. But surely, you must know someone who does.”

Cyrus reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled piece of parchment, which he pressed into Matthias’ hand.

“What is this?” Matthias asked.

“Some information I want you to have,” Cyrus said. “It’s a subject I’m interested in. A girl who was murdered the other night at Vauxhall.”

Matthias had heard some things about this murder. Now he glanced at the piece of paper and understood what the professor was hinting at. Written on it was an address of a graveyard, and a time.

“That’s where her funeral will be held,” Cyrus said casually. “If you decide to take my offer, I advise that you attend. Pretend to be a guest. Find out where she’s being buried. And that night …”

“Steal her body,” Matthias finished blankly. The parchment shook in his hand. “Professor, I can’t––”

“I’m only asking you to consider it. For me. For the future of humanity.”

And that’s a wrap on week three! How’s it going for you, all you fellow NaNo participants?

I know I promised a “how to catch up on NaNo” post and I still plan to write it! Hopefully it will be up by Tuesday or Wednesday. Also get ready for another Music Monday post tomorrow!

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend. ❤

Music Monday: 11/16/15 – NaNo Edition! (pt. 2)

I realize that last week, I completely forgot to do Music Monday. So this week, I will be posting 4 songs instead of the usual 2. To celebrate NaNoWriMo, this week I am specifically posting songs that are inspiring my NaNo novel.

If you would also like to participate in Music Monday:

• Every Monday, share 1-2 songs. It can be any genre, it can be something new or it can be an old favorite. Whatever you want!
• Share a music/lyric video of the song.
• Tell us some of your thoughts/feelings about the song, artist, and/or music video.
• Submit the link to your blog post at the bottom of Lauren’s post here (where it says “Add your link”).

My Music Choices of the Week:

Mt. Wolf – Life Size Ghosts

This song always gives me chills! It’s so atmospheric and mysterious. Definitely inspiring.

Woodkid – The Other Side

If you’re a writer and have never listened to Woodkid, do yourself a favor and go listen to his album The Golden Age––holy crap, it’s amazing. All his lyrics have an intriguing, narrative quality to them, and there’s a lot of epic drums and strings. He also has a very unusual, distinct voice that I really love.

Florence + The Machine – Seven Devils

I am total Florence-worshipping trash and honestly every single one of her songs inspires me. But “Seven Devils” has always been one of my favorites––what a delightfully creepy song. And as always, Florence Welch’s voice is pure magic.

Alex Winston – Guts

I love Alex Winston and I wish she was more well-known! She has a very interesting voice––kind of reminds me of Joanna Newsom. Her songs are catchy but they also have a powerful, dark side to them. “Guts” is my favorite of hers. Wish there was a cool music video to go with it!

Thanks for listening! Hope you enjoyed my music choices, and be back next week for more NaNo-themed songs. 🙂

Later this week, I hope to write a post about how to catch up on NaNo. 😉 See ya later and happy Monday!

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week Two

Ah, the dreaded Week Two––when the shiny new story starts to lose its shininess, when you start to worry that your ideas are stupid and your writing is terrible, when you start slipping behind and losing all hope … Haha. Ha. *Cries*

Current WC/CC: 19,343 words / 8 chapters

Progress Since Last Week: 8,344 words / 2 chapters

How It’s Going: 

Uhhh well I’m supposed to be at 25k words since today is the halfway point, so I am more than 5k words behind. *Screams* I’ve been slacking off quite a lot this week, and even though I was busy doing some things, I had enough free time that I don’t really have a good excuse. I think I got over-confident the first week because I was staying on schedule pretty well, and now I’m … not. But I’m really hoping I can catch up today or tomorrow. I just need to set my mind to it.

Besides being behind in my word count, though, things are going pretty well. My story is not perfect, of course, but I’ve been exploring even more subplots and introducing new characters this week and it’s been fun so far. I’m a little nervous about the next two weeks because I don’t have much of an outline to work with, so I might need to plan a bit more. Buuuut I’ll figure it out. Hopefully.

An Excerpt From This Week: 

The man kept a hand perched on the bookshelf, and looked up with an expression of mild irritation. “This is not the first grave robbery to be reported this week. I’d be surprised if it was even the first one reported today.”

Now Lena felt like she was about to lose her temper as her father had, but she tried to keep her voice civil. “What do you mean?”

The man sighed, returning to his chair and sitting down. “You mean you haven’t heard? Body-snatching has become a bit of a sport, lately.” He said it so lightly, Lena wondered if it was a joke. But since he didn’t laugh or otherwise indicate he was lying, she took that to mean he was being serious.

When father and daughter merely stared at him in shock, the man went on. “There have been reports of grave robberies all over the city lately.” He leaned forward, pressing his fingers into a temple. “These groups of men calling themselves ‘resurrectionists’ are digging up bodies and giving them to medical schools.”

Lena frowned. “Resurrectionists?” she repeated.

The man smirked. “Rather self-righteous, isn’t it?”

And that’s all for today, folks! Hopefully I can catch up within the next few days, and I hope weeks three and four will go more smoothly than this one. (Haha, yeah right.)

Also, I realize I totally forgot about Music Monday last week, but I will be sure to do one tomorrow. 🙂

My fellow NaNo-ers: How’s it going?

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week One

I promised to post updates about how NaNo was going, so here I am! I can’t believe it’s only been a single week … I already feel like it’s been ages.

Current WC/CC: 10,999 words / 6 chapters

How It’s Going:

The word goal for today (if I want to stay on the 1667-a-day track) is 13,333. So as you can see, I’m a little over 2k behind. I managed to stay totally on schedule the first few days, but for the past couple days I’ve been letting myself slip behind a little. I know I can catch up, though, and I’m going to try really hard not to fall behind this week.

My main issue is that I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING. Like, really. I had the first couple chapters planned out, but otherwise I’m pretty much making this up as I go. Around day 4 or 5 I started to feel stuck because I’d already reached the end of what I’d planned. … But I just sat down with my outline, planned a few more chapters, and kept going.

I’m also trying as hard as I can not to be a perfectionist. Normally I’m a little nervous about skipping around on the timeline, leaving scenes incomplete, etc. But right now, I need to just get the story out. If I don’t know how to end a scene, I just leave it where it is and move on to something else. If I’m not sure where one storyline is going, I jump to another one and explore it some more.

A beneficial aspect of my story is that there are a lot of characters and subplots, so when I’m bored/stuck with one, I can move on to another. I’m finding it really fun to explore all the different storylines and to just go crazy with it and see where it takes me. It will certainly need a ton of reworking and polishing when it comes to editing, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. It’s the first draft, and it’s supposed to be a mess. That’s what I have to keep telling myself.

An Excerpt From This Week:

“I’ve thought about it, from time to time,” Walker went on pensively, as if he hadn’t heard anything. He shook the water droplets from his long, bony fingers, then stood up straight with his hands clasped behind his back as he turned to face Matthias again. “It can be difficult to separate the head from the heart, so to speak.”

He watched Matthias over the rim of his glasses as if he anticipated a response.

Matthias stood still, trying to make sense of what the professor had said. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean,” he admitted after a short pause.

At that, Cyrus Walker chuckled, and Matthias supplied a nervous smile in answer––he didn’t know what was so funny.

“I suppose that was a confusing choice of words, especially considering my profession,” Walker said. He brushed past Matthias and began to pace around the dissection table once more, watching his feet as he walked. “I’m speaking metaphorically, of course. What I’m saying is, when dissecting a human body, I’m often torn between two halves of myself. There’s the one part—my head—that merely sees the body before me as an inanimate object, a non-living and non-breathing thing.

“But then there’s the other part of me—the heart …” And there he paused for a moment and glanced at the heart that was still lying on the table. “And that part of me,” he continued, “is the part that cringes away, that tells me what I’m doing is wrong somehow. This is a human being, it insists. Someone who was once alive. Someone who once lived, breathed, loved, and hated. Felt pain. Felt joy. It’s all very strange, isn’t it?”

Over all, I’m happy with how things are going so far and I’m looking forward to the next ~3 weeks. It’s going to be a crazy ride with a lot of grave robbery, human dissections, and demonic possession. YAY!

To the rest of you doing NaNo: How’s it going? What are you writing about? I want to hear about your NaNo projects! 🙂

Music Monday: 11/2/15 – NaNo Edition! (pt. 1)

Welcome back to Music Monday! I thought that since it’s November, my Music Mondays this month will be NaNo-themed––that is, these are some of the songs that have inspired my NaNo novel. Since my novel is mostly about grave robbery and demons, these songs are uh … pretty dark. Yaaaay!

If you’d also like to participate in Music Monday this week, here are the rules:

• Every Monday, share 1-2 songs. It can be any genre, it can be something new or it can be an old favorite. Whatever you want!
• Share a music/lyric video of the song.
• Tell us some of your thoughts/feelings about the song, artist, and/or music video.
• Submit the link to your blog post at the bottom of Lauren’s post here (where it says “Add your link”).

My Music Choices of the Week: 

MS MR – Bones

Pretty much all of MS MR’s album Secondhand Rapture is a huge inspiration to my writing. It’s dark, it’s creepy, it’s epic … I can never get enough of it. “Bones” is one of my absolute favorite tracks on the album (and one of my favorite songs in general). I love the lyrics, I love the power of Lizzy Plapinger’s voice, I love how haunting the song is. It’s the perfect song to go with my NaNo!

Agnes Obel – The Curse

Another really cool and haunting song. The strings are epic, and over all it has a really intense atmosphere and an intriguing narrative to it. I love it and it’s a great song to write to.

Join me next Monday for more NaNo-themed songs! And make sure to check out Lauren’s post and link up for more Music Monday posts!

WIPMarathon: October 2015 Check-In + NaNoWriMo!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you’ve all had a spectacularly spooky day. I got to hang out with some of my friends from high school––we played Zoombinis and carved a pumpkin and it was a lot of fun. At the moment I am alone at home (on “handing out candy” duty) and I just finished watching the “Freaks and Geeks” Halloween episode, which I traditionally watch every year.

The best ❤

Anyway, on to the first order of business, which is my October check-in for WIPMarathon.

UMMMM … I really did not write much this month. My two (lame) excuses are 1) I was in the middle of writing a very difficult part of the book and it’s been too emotionally draining, 2) I got caught up in planning for NaNoWriMo and that kind of consumed a lot of my time. I am a bit frustrated since I was really hoping to finish this draft of I Chose The Monster before NaNo, but I guess it can wait until after November. *sigh*

Last WC/CC: 126,838 words / 45 chapters

Current WC/CC: 128,804 words / 46 chapters

WIP Issues This Month:

  • Mostly procrastination/laziness
  • I was distracted by planning for NaNo.
  • I’m trying to get through a really sad and dramatic chapter that’s been giving me a lot of trouble––and honestly that’s part of what prevented me from writing all month (besides just being lazy).

What I learned this month in writing:

It’s hard to say since I didn’t get much writing done at all. 😛 But ummmm … I guess I’ve learned that it can be very difficult to emotionally detach myself from the story/characters, but sometimes I just need to rip off the band-aid.

What distracted me this month while writing:

As I’ve mentioned a couple times: planning for NaNoWriMo! I got so caught up in researching, outlining, etc. that I just kind of set ICTM aside. I started to feel much more attracted to a new, shiny story than to an old one I’ve been working on for ages. 😛 But I’m sure I’ll be sick of the “shiny new story” by the end of November and then I can go back to ICTM! Yay!

Goal for next month:

To win NaNo! This is my tenth year participating––I can’t believe it. And I’m hoping to keep up my winning streak because I’ve won the past seven NaNos. Let’s make this number eight!!!

Last 200 Words:

Ohhhh boy. As I’ve mentioned, I’m in the middle of quite a dramatic part right now so uh, the emotions are running a bit high in this excerpt. Also WARNING: some strong language. 😛

“Fuck you,” I say. It comes out louder and fiercer than I thought it would, and Juliet winces as if I physically hurt her. I get shakily to my feet. “Fuck … you.” This time it comes out weak, broken—strangled by the sobs that are fighting their way up into my chest.

Juliet shakes her head. “Nina––”

She takes a step forward, but I step away from her. I clutch at my wrist, where it’s still throbbing. “You’re such a bitch, you know that?”

As soon as I’ve said it, I want to take it back. I see the look on Juliet’s face and I know I’ve hurt her. But at the same time, some sick part of me is glad. I need her to feel hurt, to show any kind of emotion at all.

“It’s always about you,” I force myself to continue––even though the tears are streaming freely down my face now, even though my voice trembles, even as the first sob racks its way through me. “You don’t give a damn about anyone but yourself. Even now. I––I can’t believe you.”

My voice finally breaks on the words. I’m losing control. Coming apart. Everything is growing hazy and unreal and I just want it to stop.

…. So much fun, I know!!!

Ah-hem well uh. Anyway. Time for the second thing on my agenda:

NaNoWriMo!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll keep this brief because this post is already getting really long. But anyway, the working title of my NaNo is The Resurrectionists. 

resurrectionists

~spooky~

It’s based on real-life grave robbery in 18th century London, but it has a bit of a supernatural twist to it. 😉 I guess I’ll just leave it at that partly because I don’t really know what I’m doing!!!! but there is a bit more info about it here if you’re curious. (Also, feel free to add me as a NaNo buddy if you are also participating!)

I will try to do a weekly update for NaNo so I can tell you guys more about the story as I start making progress. Also I’m hoping to do a special NaNo edition of Music Monday this week. So, stay tuned!

Hope you’re all having a fun and safe Halloween. Don’t eat too much candy. 😉 …. Just kidding, eat lots and lots of candy.

How about you guys? Are you also doing NaNo? If so, what are you writing about?