Nanowrimo: The Last Week.


It’s the last week of National Novel Writing Month and I’m both optimistic, pessimistic and realistic all at once.

I’ve only written 26,874 – a little over halfway done with less than one week left to hit the challenge goal of 50,000 words and it’s Thanksgiving week to boot (and with Christmas coming I have a million other little goals to attend to in addition to my normal work load as a wife and mother and home keeper).

Is it possible that I’ll finish? Yes, I suppose, but it’s not very likely. Admittedly, this is my own fault. In addition to the normal writing struggles like word block and my already anticipated time constraints – like my husband’s birthday last week which saw me baking and cooking a special dinner for him – I also frankly just goofed off a bit. My sanity required it and I let it happen. Shame on me or good for me? I’m not sure.

So why am I optimistic when reality and pessimism seem to indicate that I won’t finish the challenge? I still think I’ll finish the book either way and at the end of the day, that is more important. If enjoying the holidays and keeping up with my LIFE mean that I don’t write 50,000 words in 30 days – I am totally at peace with that as long as I keep writing.

Are you trying to write a novel this month? How is your progress going? Do you think you’ll finish on time?

Nanowrimo Week 3: Escaping week two with hope intact.


Last week sucked. It was crazy busy and I kept finding myself stupidly not writing when I should have been writing and blaming it on the week two doldrums and watching crappy television instead and then the unthinkable happened. My computer died.


The hard drive just totally lost it’s mind and stopped working. I clicked on the keyboard, mouse buttons, monitor button and such over and over and nothing happened. I frantically called my husband into the room, who sensibly restarted the machine and I crossed my fingers and toes but it was all for naught. It was dead, dude.

Not bad enough? It turns out my computer hadn’t run a back up since early June. For months now it has been telling me something along the lines of “I totes can’t connect to Drive gybbledyshmook, yo. You care?” and I was all like, “Everything seems to be working so probably not.” And it was like “Cool, cool. Lemme know if you care later.” And I kept thinking I should mention it to Dan but since everything was WORKING and I am busy, I kept forgetting. Well maybe my computer should have told me that gybbledyshmook was a code name for “that place all your files get backed up to” – you know like all your pictures, the cub scout newsletter, your important documents and your novel.

Don’t panic. I’ve been writing my novel on google drive at the wise advice of probably my husband. SMART MAN. But I’d been backing it up by saving it to my computer which then backed it up somewhere else. Or so I thought. Guys, what if Google decided not to support google drive tomorrow and sent it off to Googly Heaven to join Google Reader and every other web program it’s ever lost interest in? I’d have been totally boned.

And let’s not forget 4 and a half months of pictures that are gone. I can get some of them off of shutterfly and Facebook but I’m sure a lot of great stuff is living in a comatose hard drive, never to be seen again. And did I mention I maintain MM’s cub scout newsletter and website and all my templates and pictures and stuff were only on my hard drive? And there is a pack meeting on Thursday that I need to have a newsletter written for? Hhahahahahahahahahahahahahaha


Oh right and I’m writing a novel.

This weekend was largely spent trying to fix my computer which continued to be a temperamental NAUGHTY WORDS as we replaced hard drives, reinstalled Windows and tried to get stuff set up. We also had other stuff to do like fixing our toilets which decided to break, switching our cell phone provider because US Cellular’s web development folks are about as competent as whoever is running Obamacare and/cept they are refusing to acknowledge it and would not let us change our payment info (cause we got a new credit card a few months ago and would really like it to be billed to that and not the old card that is no longer valid) anywhere except online – i.e. their website that has been inoperable since September. No joke, dudes.  So we switched to Verizon which has been nifty fun and we got new phones which is cool so I’ve been making lovey eyes at my new Galaxy Note 3 which is the bees knees…

Oh right and I’m writing a novel.

So yeah I was like a serious 10,000 words behind when I woke up this morning. Dude. My only consolation was that I actually had stuff I wanted to write about instead of the groggy land of writers block I was living in this time last week. I had a tentative outline mapped out and fun words milling around in my mind and IDEAS. Imagine that!! So I set my daughter up in front of ye old boobe toobe, made myself a cuppa coffee and GOT TO WORK, yo! A couple hours later I was pleased to find myself only 7,000 words behind. Sorta better, right?


So I’m nervous cause well it’s November 18th and my life continues to be busy (someone needs to do the laundry – any takers?) and hubby’s birthday is coming up and then Thanksgiving and LIFE and oh my god I’m so behind and my computer is only mostly back to normal and crap I still need to make that newsletter…

BUT I have words I want to write. Which is more than I could say last week. So even if I don’t finish by November 30th, it does seem possible that I might finish the book. And maybe even like it when I’m done.


Anyone else still writing this month? Hope your week two went better than mine!

Nanowrimo Week 2: On writer’s block and other excuses.


Despite a good amount of writer’s block, interruptions from children who like breathe and stuff, and you know life… I managed to keep up with my word goals all week, even throughout the weekend – finding inspiration where I could and getting creative or just pounding out words when all else failed. It was amazing.

This morning I had 8 million things I’ve been neglecting that I decided to quickly attend to before writing. I emptied and loaded the dishwasher, fed my daughter breakfast, checked my email, made a shopping list for the Thanksgiving dishes I’ve agreed to cook this year, looked into some gift ideas that I’ve been considering before I forget them again, acknowledged my social life, read my RSS feeds and okay fine – I’ve been avoiding my novel today.

After hours of just being plain avoidant and contrary, I sat down to write and only a couple hundred words spilled out. I felt absolutely no interest in the scene I was writing but even worse, had nothing else better I wanted to write either. Part of the problem is that the book and I are at a bit of an impasse as I realize that I need to tighten down my plot a little bit so that I have something resembling a coherent story and not just a long string of tangents. What I’ve got so far works but I had no real intentions to develop many of the plot points that I’ve established. Do I rework the ideas in my mind so that they all actually connect or just march on into vaguesville? I cannot decide and truthfully I have no idea what happens next or what I want to write anyway. I am empty today.

In the past I have been a very fickle writer – the girl with a million ideas but no patience to execute them. It’s a crippling problem that when my plots start to bore me, I tend to just move onto greener pastures and so for me Nanowrimo is like the ultimate exercise in patience, restraint and will power. It’s a scheduled time frame in which I try to recommit myself to this writing thing that I love but have a hard time making time for because at the end of the day it’s really only about me and I don’t like devoting time to things that are only about me.

I know it’s Week Two and that I’ve entered the dreaded two week slump and that the best course of action is to just keep writing but today I just flat out don’t want to and with both kids home now and an afternoon of errands, karate classes and figuring out dinner ahead, I’m thinking I need to throw in the towel for the day and try again tomorrow.

The good news is that last week I was feeling at least this pessimistic and the next day I recommitted, got back on track and managed to push that momentum into the rest of the week so there is a chance that the same thing will happen tomorrow if not sooner. And at least the dishes are mostly caught up with and the majority of my distracting obligations and desires have been tended to already so that hopefully I can just get straight to work tomorrow and have few excuses to deviate from my writing plans.

Wish me luck! And if you are writing a novel this month, good luck to you as well!

Nanowrimo Week One: Four days in and the honeymoon is over.

latte love

I’m four days into Nation Novel Writing Month and starting to remember why I don’t try writing a novel in 30 days more often. It’s two things really:

  1. Sometimes when I’m writing, I feel as though I am taking a really fun, interesting story idea and turning it into the most boring, mundane thing ever. My own worst critic? Probably – but I can take any plot and turn it into 300 pages about washing my hands or walking the kids to the bus stop (not that I’ve written 300 pages mind you – I’d be stoked if that were true!). I’m trying to pull out more interesting words and amp up my plot, but it’s been hard to find my creativity when…
  2. Writing with children at home. Ugh. Writing while the kids are home is downright painful as I try to immerse myself into the task at hand only to be interrupted roughly ever 1.2 minutes with information like “Mommy, my pretzel looks like a triangle!” or “Can I watch tv?” or “I have a poopy diaper.” Then there’s the dog who also thinks I should pay attention to him – and the dishes need to be washed, the laundry needs to be folded, we’re out of milk, I need to check my email and probably somebody should make dinner.

Tomorrow both kids will be at school for a few hours and I’m hoping that I can go back to my happy place that I was experiencing on Friday when this was new and fun and almost easy. I’m hoping my character does something more interesting than take the kids to the bus stop and fold her laundry. I’m hoping I can get ahead on my word count during the school week to make up for Sat-Mon when I am never alone and my creative inspiration evaporates into thin air.

Are you writing a novel this month?

What are your strategies to avoid writer’s block and ignore / cope with interruptions?

Prepping for NaNoWriMo: A Letter to Future Jen

Dear “In The Thick Of It” Jen,

I know, you are pretty sure by now that this story blows right? That once again you’ve taken a perfectly good story idea and sucked all the life and love and joy out of it by attempting to put it to paper. Ready to walk away yet?

Well consider the last time you abandoned this story. You thought you could just willy nilly walk away from it and that it would disappear into the black hole of unfinished stories. But it didn’t, did it? It followed you around like a love sick puppy for a whole damned year until you finally did the right thing and tried again. And if you walk away again this time, that puppy is just going to follow you around some more, with it’s sad pathetic eyes and it’s Taylor Swift songs about how you two could have been amazing together if you’d just tried harder.

So, I’m not just going to guilt trip you – here is a little bit of advice that seems obvious to “Hasn’t Even Started Writing Yet” Jen:

  • Have fun – forget about the time line and the story arc and the unfun feelings that you are murdering a beautiful story. Just have fun – write something crazy, go nuts. Let your characters have fun and experience new things. If it’s really terrible, we’ll delete it later. LATER.
  • Have you been mean to your characters today? You know they say that a good author tortures their characters. If you’ve been being too nice lately, it’s time to mix things up.
  • Try following a new character around for awhile and see what happens if you need a change of scenery. Maybe they’ll become something amazing in this story, you never know.
  • Breathe – stand up and take a walk. Experience life for a little while and come back to it later, as long as you come back. :O) Life’s experiences are the bread and butter of art so don’t forget to have them. Don’t sit in that darkly lit cluttered office all day, no matter how low your word count is. Go kiss your children.
  • Have you eaten? Hungry writers are grumpy writers.
  • If all else falls, maybe the story needs more chickens?

Did that make you feel any better? Any more energized to kick this novel’s ass? I promise you can do this, you’ve done it before and you can do it again – don’t let that damned puppy chase you around for another year!!

Good luck,

“Starting to Get a Bit Nervous” Jen

A note of explanation: In short, I’m crazy. I’ve decided to give that old National Novel Writing Month another go this year, with essentially the same story I tried and failed to write last year. But it’s different now – it’s better and more exciting and evolved and it lost 5 pounds and swears it’s changed. I have mixed feelings about all of this, but as you can tell in the above letter, I feel like I owe it to the story to try again. And to myself. I owe it to myself to try and be a better writer. Anyone else joining me this year in a chaotic month of novella writing? You can follow my journey here.

I Wrote a Novel in 30 Days.

check out the Wordle for my NaNoWriMo novel: fly awayI did it. I wrote a novel in 30 days. Like a whole story with a beginning middle and end – the whole enchilada you could say.

I’ve tried this before and failed several times. I’ve never been very good at finishing larger writing projects, especially if no grade is involved so this was really quite a feat for me and I’m feeling awfully proud right now and calling myself a novelist, authorist and super freaking awesome and stuff.

It wasn’t easy, although sometimes it seemed that way. Some days I just wrote my little heart out which seriously made up for the days that I just sort of stared at the computer blankly – or the week we went out of town which seriously limited my writing time, like more than usual.

I think one of the things that made a difference this time was that I really tried to turn off my inner editor. I told myself, “Just write.” When I came to those daily road blocks where I simply had no idea what to write, I just wrote stuff anyway until the next step eventually got dragged out of me. There’s probably a lot of major major major editing in my future, but it’s totally worth it because I actually have a finished story to work with instead of staring at a half empty plot.

The last day of the competition was definitely the hardest. It got pretty bad when I wrote the words “The End” about 5,000 words before the finish line, knowing full well the story was simply over. I had to go back through about 1/3 of the book and just add in details anywhere I could, a few extra words here, a few split contractions there. I even wrote an epilogue to get through the last 1,000 words but I made it and I’m thrilled!

My story by the way? It’s pretty ridiculous. It’s a sort of dystopian post-war love story filled to the brim with post traumatic stress disorders, scheming evil people, underground railroads and grapefruits. Plus I quote the Beatles like a lot, just for good measure.

Have you ever written a novel or novella? Do you participate in NaNoWriMo?