NaNoWriMo as a Year-Round Tool

I can’t believe I’ve been using NaNoWriMo since 2014 and never really thought to use it outside of the main competition. I’ve participated in their April and July Camps before, but that’s about it.

It has been an incredible tool the last couple months as I try to improve my day-to-day writing routine.

I’ve always tracked my word count as I write. That’s how I set monthly goals. But that was all on a spreadsheet.

NaNo lets you set goals for whatever time period you want — I do monthly — and then tracks how much you need to write per day to achieve that goal.

This has been especially helpful during the grind of writing. Every writer knows what I mean. You hit a point in your story or your schedule that just drags. You feel like you can’t get over the hump, but you know you have to.

NaNo’s words per day tracker is a lifeline during the writing grind. If I’m trying to eek out a sliver of progress for the night, I use the daily tracker to have that small goal. 500 words needed for the day… 400… 200. Then you’re done and still on track.

That’s a small tool that can keep you moving forward when you hit a natrative or mental snag.

That’s really all I wanted to say today. If you need something to help you track your writing progress, look no further than National Novel Writing Month.

Steve D

July Write Day: Summer Writing

June was a solid month. We’re already a week into July, so I don’t have many other reflections. Let’s get to it.

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Write 9,000 words.
  2. Spend more time outside.
  3. Read 3 books.

So how did I do?!

Write 9,000 words?!

Can you tell I’m excited about this one? I did it! All it took was a ridiculous surge of 2,100 words on the last night of the month, but I did it.

I started off the month really strong, for once, but started to fall off about halfway through. The final weekend we were at a family wedding, so I have an excuse there. Otherwise, I left too many gaps between writing sessions. Even one or two additional sessions of a couple hundred words would have made that final night far less grueling. But once I got close, I couldn’t not finish.

That gave me 15 days of writing, with 18 total writing sessions. Those three broken sessions where I started writing and then came back later to continue in the same day were strangely helpful. I was also pretty good about writing immediately after work to not lose motivation, even if some of those only took small bites out of my word count goal.

The Herb Witch Tales Progress

It’s been a while since I’ve really talked about my work-in-progress, so I just want to touch on it for a moment. I’m on my second rewrite and third draft of Uprooted, The Herb Witch Tales #1. I knew I had to rethink some of the big plot points, and there have been some substantial changes. This story may end up ending differently, or maybe even longer than I had intended.

I currently have 22,000 words of what I had aimed to be a 35,000-word novella. But at two-thirds the way there, I don’t think my characters can make it to the original endpoint. So I’m debating whether Uprooted needs to be longer, or if it maybe needs to end in a slightly different place.

I know where I want the characters to end up eventually, but maybe they don’t get there until part 2. I’d be okay with that. Right now, I’m trying not to box myself into a specific ending or a specific word count. I want to finish the story, however I get there. That just means I’ll have even larger changes to make to part 2, which is still in its first draft.

I’m really enjoying the process, though.

Spend more time outside?

We haven’t gone for any hikes yet, but I feel like we’ve spent a fair amount of time outside. We’ve hit the record-breaking heatwave part of summer now, and the toddler is not as interested in going outside. He’s definitely an autumn/winter kid.

On Father’s Day I took him to a field near our house where he literally ran back and forth for 30 minutes.

But with storm season in full swing, it looks like we’ll get a few days where the heat breaks and it will be bearable for a hike in the woods.

Read 3 books?

GoodReads says I finished three books in June, but it was really more like four. I finished reading The Return of the King towards the end of the month, then spent another few days reading some of the appendices, which carried my finish date into July. Considering I finished three other books in June, though, I don’t care too much about the timing. One of those was the very long In the Land of Time: And Other Fantasy Tales, an omnibus of Lord Dunsany’s work edited by S.T. Joshi. That took me several months to get through, although I took a pretty long break from it.

I enjoyed it overall, but wasn’t a fan of the narrator. I think I need to buy this volume in print and spend more time with it, maybe reading one or stories at a time and letting them stew a bit.

Goals for July

  1. Write 10,000 words. This is my goal for Camp NaNoWriMo, and last month gave me confidence that I can actually achieve it. With all of the changes to Uprooted, I know there will be even more to my unofficially untitled part 2, and I want to be able to bring both to conventions next year. I really need to accelerate my writing progress the next few months.
  2. Read 3 books. I like this as a standard goal.
  3. Enjoy parental leave. We’re due to have our second child at the end of the month, so… that’s exciting! I’ll be taking three weeks of leave to be home with mom and baby, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Steve D

Marketing 2017 Wrap-Up

Well, the numbers are not officially in, because there are technically still 20 days left in 2017. But, I am savvy and realistic enough to know when to call a game.

Our marketing efforts this year were… lackluster, despite my big talk way back in January. I don’t need to dissect our numbers (or my budget) to find the reason why, however.

The main culprit: I didn’t publish my book this year. I think most would agree with me that this was a wise decision, but it has necessarily delayed my own marketing efforts.

Still, there are some key lessons I can derive from this non-campaign. But first, let’s dig into the numbers. Here were my original marketing goals for this year, focused mostly on growing our audience. Continue reading “Marketing 2017 Wrap-Up”

How to Get into the Rhythm of Writing

Hear that stuttered beat? It’s intriguing, hopeful.

You don’t quite know where the song is going until after the 8-measure intro, and the full beat kicks in (after another mini intro).

That’s what writing is like sometimes. It’s difficult to sit down and just start typing or scribbling away all the time. That’s what NaNo has been like for me so far this month. Continue reading “How to Get into the Rhythm of Writing”

Friday Write-Day: Progress on the Non-Writing Front

fwd-progress-non-writing-front

I have not made much progress at all this week… for NaNoWriMo. With less than 10,000 words written through 18 days, I think it’s safe to say I will not be hitting 50,000 words, or probably even 30,000.

One reason for the lack of progress on either WoEL or my mythology stories this week has been my general stressing over the details of publication. Up until I printed those manuscripts for The Warden of Everfeld: Memento, publication felt like a far-off dream, attainable yet just out of reach. Continue reading “Friday Write-Day: Progress on the Non-Writing Front”

Writing Lesson #64: World-Building Offers Many Avenues of Storytelling — Use Them

cs-thought-bubble

NaNo 2016 got off to a less-than-stellar start for me. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the shock induced by the presidential election, I was not focused on writing my second novel, The Warden of Everfeld: Legacy. Part of me feels like I’m jumping ahead too much, considering my first significant round of revisions looms for part one, The Warden of EVerfeld: Memento.

I tend to second-guess myself in such ways. The point is, I haven’t advanced WoEL much beyond the 5,000 words I covered over the first eight days or so. Instead of wallowing in my own thought process, I decided to change focus. Continue reading “Writing Lesson #64: World-Building Offers Many Avenues of Storytelling — Use Them”

Haiku Sunday NaNo 2016 Edition: Sacred Tree

“Sacred Tree”

Towering above,
protecting the forest vast.
Vigilant keeper.

Author’s Note: The Fa’al’Írkesh, or Sacred Trees, of Everfeld are far mightier than any other type of tree in the coniferous forest. They are identified by grey bark and dark blue leaves that feel as tough as leather and are said to never wither, even when separated from their parent tree. According to legend, the Sacred Trees were created by the Life Mother Gó’Dan to protect and watch over Everfeld, helping to maintain balance and harmony in the vast forest.

Steve

Friday Write-Day: NaNo Marches On

fwd-life-marches-on

This week has been… interesting. I will spare you all my political ramblings in the wake of the US election, but suffice it to say that I have been wholly distracted from writing this week. I do not feel bad about it; elections are important. This election i particular is important, and I will be following President-elect Donald Trump’s policies closely. Continue reading “Friday Write-Day: NaNo Marches On”

Haiku Sunday NaNo 2016 Edition: Little Fox

Last year, I published five haiku through the month of November featuring themes from my NaNo project/soon-to-be novel, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento. To keep with tradition (because obviously doing something once makes it a tradition), I will be featuring four more story-related haiku each Sunday this month featuring characters or themes from The Warden of Everfeld: Legacy. Continue reading “Haiku Sunday NaNo 2016 Edition: Little Fox”