Friday, November 19, 2010

NaNoWriMo Madness

by Merrie Destefano


The WINNERS are Sullivan McPig—who will receive a signed copy of AFTERLIFE, and Kimberly B—who will get to choose a book of her choice, as long as it was written by a Supernatural Underground author. CONGRATULATIONS!

I have your e-mail addresses, so I will be contacting the winners shortly.

Meanwhile, thanks to ALL of you who commented. And a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who has been participating in NaNoWriMo. You still have time to get in some words today!

Just an FYI, I ran everything through a randomizer program to find the winner.

I had my first exposure with NaNoWriMo [the National Novel Writing Month] a few years ago, when one of my dear friends decided to participate. We were also members of the same writing group, so I heard about her preparation and progress on a regular basis. I thought she was nuts. Write a novel in one month? 50,000 words?

Since then, I’ve heard more about NaNo and I guess I got used to the craziness. Lots of times as writers we do things that border on insane. Rewrite manuscripts. Kill off characters. Change an entire book from third person to first. Forget to pay the electricity bill because we’re so immersed in our story, which just so happens to need that pesky thing called electricity to write. I hate it when that happens.

And so, I had been toying with the idea of joining NaNo this year when fellow Supernatural Underground alumni, Tera Lynn Childs, tossed down the gauntlet. I mean, she very sweetly and politely invited me to join. So I did.


Now, mind you, I still need to pay the bills and do copyedits on my second novel and edit a freelance book. My dogs need to be walked, my house needs to be cleaned, and my husband would like it if at least once a day I came out of my office and talked to him.

And I am bending the traditional NaNo rules a bit. I decided to use this 30-day period to resurrect a book project I started over the summer. Back in June I was waiting for the editorial letter for my second novel, so I had a little bit of free time. In 24 days I got 100 pages written. So, I’m working on that project, with the hopes that I will get another 100 pages finished by the end of November and then finish the novel by the end of December.

Right now, I’m at 38,000 words and 158 pages. This NaNo thing seems to be working for me. Although I must confess that I need special tools to help me from time to time. Flying monkeys always seem to work best.

I decided to share a couple of things that I’ve used during NaNo. Mainly these help me write quickly and more efficiently when I’m short on time, like I have been this month. Here they are:

This technique was adapted from chapter four of the book, Novel Shortcuts by Laura Whitcomb. In my version, I create a separate Word document and quickly—the key is in doing this quickly—write down everything that I want to take place in my next scene. I include dialogue, emotions, setting, anything I can think of. Then when I finish, I use this as rough material to create my scene. The weird thing is, many times this fast, quick overview of what is supposed to happen ends up being dead on, almost perfect. This also really helps to break through writer’s block, something I have suffered with more often than I’d like to confess.

I just discovered this program about a week or so ago and it’s killer. I love it! You can use the free version of Write or Die online or you purchase the program (that’s what I did) for $10 and download it onto your computer. You write inside this program, instead of Word or Scrivener. You get to set the parameters, which I really like. So you decide how many words you need to write and set the timer. Then you write. If you stop for too long, your screen will darken from white to red, and then a dialogue box pops up and reminds you to start writing. Meanwhile, as all this is going on, you can see a red bar on the top. It grows longer as you run out of time. I hate that red bar! But it gets my adrenaline flowing. The first day I got Write or Die, I tested it. Here are my results: I wrote 8 pages in 62 minutes. For me, that’s just unbelievable.

So, for those of you who knee-deep in NaNo, don’t give up! Keep going. I heard that the novel, Water For Elephants was a NaNo book.

Here’s my question for the day:
Who’s doing NaNo and what are you writing?
If you’re not doing NaNo, have you ever heard of it before? And if so, do you think all of us NaNoites are nuts? (We kinda are, but we seem to be enjoying ourselves.)

Tell me about your NaNo adventures in the comment section below and I will give away two prizes to two different people this month. One will get a signed copy of AFTERLIFE: THE RESURRECTION CHRONICLES and one will get a copy of A BOOK OF THEIR CHOICE WRITTEN BY A SUPERNATURAL UNDERGROUND AUTHOR.

Game Rules:
To enter to win, please post a comment below and include your e-mail address. Entries without e-mail addresses won’t be included in the giveaway. You can earn points by:

+1 Posting in the comments section
+1 Linking to this post on Twitter
+1 Linking to this post on Facebook
+1 Linking to the Supernatural Underground blog on your own blog/website
+3 Following me on Twitter
+3 Following me on Facebook

Just post the total number of points that you’ve earned in your comment. Contest ends Tuesday, November 30, at midnight. Winners to be announced in this post Wednesday, December 1.


Helen Lowe said...

Great tips, Merrie--I might have to trial them as I set myself a goal of writing 60,000 words last month and only got to 30,000. But am now into my second go. This is not NaNo, just trying to avoid being the next GRRM. :-)

Rebecca said...

I'm doing NaNo. The story that I am writing has been in my mind for years, although it has changes since I have been writing.

My experience has been very emotional for me for several reasons. The third day of writing, my computer crashed and I lost 5000 words. I did recreate it but it was very had. This novel is a tribute to my grandmother who died in April. I ended up writing a funeral scene in the beginning that was almost like hers. I had to drink a bottle of wine when I wrote it. Actually I had to write it twice, since it was one of 5000 words that was lost and I had to rewrite it.

She loves the mystery, trapped in a haunted house stories, which is what I'm writing, but mine has a small twist to it. It's a little cliche, but I don't really care. (LOL)

When ever I feel like giving up on it, which has been a few times, I just keep thinking what my granny would say to me if I did. Actually she would be smacking me up side the head if I did give up.

I do reward myself, (usually chocolate) when I reach the word count I was hoping for.

Well that has been my experience so far. Now back to writing.

Rebecca (aka lilbitbord)

Terri Garey said...

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was a NaNo book? Wow. I had no idea. I loved that book!

I've heard of NaNoWriMo for several years now, but never participated. I think part of me is just chicken, to be honest. :-)

I've heard of Write or Die, too, but it sounds downright terrifying! LOL

Keep going, Merrie, and good for you! (And everyone else who's doing NaNo!)

Merrie Destefano said...

Yikes! 60,000 words in a month? I have to say that getting 30,000 words done is fabulous! I hope you reach your goal and get to take a whole day off with no words at all!
*big hugs*

Merrie Destefano said...

I'm so sorry about all those words you lost. =(

But I understand both how important and how difficult this project must be for you. I think that is part of the calling as a writer, to be able to go to those painful places and bring something back to share with the rest of the world. It isn't always fun. But I do think it can be beautiful and cathartic.

Best wishes on your book project! It sounds like your grandmother was an awesome mentor.

Merrie Destefano said...

I know. Isn't that weird about Water for Elephants? I heard it on Twitter from the NaNo profile.

You afraid of Write or Die? You, who love zombies and all sorts of scary things? I think Write or Die should be scared of you! You would rock that program!

Thanks for stopping by, sweetie!

Patricia Lynne said...

I only know of Nano because of you Merrie. You were FB'ing it and I asked what it was. By the time I understood what it was November was on it's merry way so I figured if I wanted to try this particular brand of insanity I'd wait until next year. ^^

Dren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dren said...

WOW This is great info. I was actually contemplating the quick route this morning on my drive to work. I'm definitely going to try it tonight. This is my 2nd Nano. I made it to 23k last year and I'm shooting for 50k this year but just broke through 20k last night. Here's to living dangerously!!

drensbspot at gmail dot com

Katie Dalton said...

Richards doing it! We posted about it on the sheep site too. :)
I am not so great at this but apparently he is writing about an assassin (with my personalty, not sure how to take that lol) who goes rouge after she wont kill a target.
Can't wait to read it when its done!
Great post Merrie

Stephanie said...

I have never heard about NaNo until this year, but I think it is a great idea. It really makes you committed to doing the word count and keeping on schedule. I feel like there might be some problems if writers want to go back and edit or redo a part though if they have to make up time in their word count. Good luck and thanks for the giveaway.

+3 follow on Facebook.

smccar1 at hotmail dot com

Rebecca said...

Oops just realized that I forgot to put my email address in my comment above.

lilbitbord @ gmail (dot) com

When NaNo is over with I am going to need a vacation, typing this many words is frying my brain. LOL

Sullivan McPig said...

If it wasn't for the fact I'm busy all this month with repainting our house and packing and moving, etc... I'd have participated in NaNoWriMo. Would have been more realxed as well, compared to the painting and stuff.
But I'm going to dedicate a month to writing soon and I will certainly try to participate next year!

(5 points)

Sullivan McPig said...

forgot to add my email addy ofcourse:

D.R. Forster said...

This is my first year doing NaNo. I'm at 37025 words. I am writing a dystopian Steampunk novel. My WIP is an urban fantasy, but keeping to the rules I decided to try Steampunk and it has been a blast. I like the story so much I am planning on transforming it from a NaNo mess to a real MS.

My oldest daughter, who is a writer, is participating for her third year. This year she and I have a word war going. I was ahead for a few days, then she had a day off and I’m 800 words behind so I really have to kick it into high gear this weekend. I would like to finish before Thanksgiving (the 50K not the novel).

We were all using Write or Die at our last write in for word wars. If you are feeling insane you can use kamikaze mode. Apparently, they haven’t enabled electric shock mode yet.

Also, we Windows users finally have a Scrivener of our very own. Literature and Latte released the beta in time for NaNo and if you finish NaNo they are giving you 50% when the final product is released early next year.

+3 Follow on Facebook

Rebecca T. said...

This is my 2nd year of NaNo, but last year I don't think I even broke 15,000 words. This year I'm behind, but not by much and I've got over 28,000 words so far.

I'm writing a YA fantasy (something I swore I would NEVER do) which involves vampires (ditto), faeries and zombies (sounds ridiculous I know).

Mostly I can only write at night what with being a TA and going to grad school and working, but that also seems to be the only time I can just let my mind stop overthinking things and let the words flow - resulting in gnome armies and chimneys that eat people. Prime stuff here! I am loving all the support to be had on the blogs and Twitter and if I'd had this last year I'm sure I would have finished!

+1 comment
+1 Tweeted
+3 Twitter follower

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I don't NaNo because I'm a better reader than writer! :) So, I don't have an experience that tears my hair out. lol

+1 Posting in the comments section
+1 Linking to this post on Twitter!/BooksThings/status/5773913682354176
+1 Linking to the Supernatural Underground blog on your own blog/website
Books and Things Blog
+3 Following me on Twitter

Cath's Chatter said...

I only know about it because of your comments on FB....sounds too much like hard work to me!!!!
You write em' I'll read em' :)
Good luck with the writing

+1 for commenting
+3 I follow you on FB

Thanks for the great comp

Heather said...

9 points for me. :) I'm commenting, I follow you on Twitter, sent you a friend request on FB, and I posted to Twitter and FB.

About NaNoWriMo... I'm participating for the second year in a row. I write YA paranormal. This particular story has to do with nutcrackers and ghosts - I'll let you figure that one out. lol Last year I wrote about a witch school, nothing like Hogwarts, I still really like last year's story and I plan on finishing that one soon. I wanted it finished prior to starting NaNoWriMo this year, but it didn't happen.

bookmaedin at yahoo dot com

Llehn said...

Um, my Nano wordcount is more like 20 k rather than the full amount but it's a good foundation to start with :D

+1 commented
+3 following you on twitter @Brittleblue
+3 FB fan (Lesley Cheah)


Tracey O'Hara said...

I am doing NaNo this year - my first time. But I'm such a slow writer, I'm only on 13K.

But it is interesting.

the cautionary tale said...

this is my first NaNo and I am at 33k words. I was sick for three days and had to catch up but I am totally committed to finishing. I trained for a triathlon at 41. I can do this!

maddy56 at ufl dot edu

Lea U. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lea U. said...

I´m not doing NaNo this year, but I´ve heard of it and it seems like everyone´s speaking about it ;-D

+1 Posting in the comments section
+1 Linking to this post on Twitter
+3 Following me on Twitter

5 points total (forgot to add my address earlier)

Jessica said...

Great tips! I couldn't do NaNoWriMo this year despite wanting to be a writer. My problem is that I'm always in the middle of working on something. Like now I'm trying to edit what I want to be my first novel and get ready for querying, something I'm dreading. Which is where I'm at now and before that's where I seemed to be too or in the middle of the book or something where I didn't think I could do it because I didn't think I could get 50,000 words. Plus when I was in school November was a hard time with papers galore since finals were around the corner.

+1 Comment
+1 S.U. Button on Blog:



Anastacia said...

I'm a follower! and yes, you guys are crazy, but that's what makes it fun!

anastaciaknits at gmail dot com

librarypat said...

I'm not a writer, but heard of NaNoWriMo last year on a couple of blogs I was following. Interesting concept. I can see where it would work well for some people. Others don't work well under this kind of pressure. If I were a writer, I think I'd try it. The Write Or Die program you mentioned is probably something I'd need to keep me moving. If you could program in things like - walk the dog, pay the bills, speak to husband - it would be great.
Good luck with the book you are working on. You are making good headway on it.

librarypat AT comcast DOT net

+1 comment
+1 I linked to this post on facebook (don't really know how I did it. Patricia Barraclough)
+3 Following you on Facebook

Sara M said...

I started NaNo last year, but after a couple days and around 6,000 words, I got the flu and didn't move from my comfy place on the couch for about four days. My brain hurt even thinking about the words I should have been writing. I had planned on picking the idea back up this year, but November snuck up on me and work has been insane. I know these are the kind of excuses that'll just keep stalling me, but I will get to it eventually. It may not be during NaNo, but it will happen.

Sharon S. said...

I'm not a writer so I am not participating, but I think it is a great idea. Some people need that type of motivation. Kind of like exercising. I am not self motivated enough to get a good work out on my own so I go to a class where I am told what to do, how many and for how long .

c4casey said...

Great tips!! I can totally use them right now. I'm one of those crazy people doing NaNoWriMo and I'm totally failing right now. See, while working part time, I'm also trying to put myself through school. And this past week alone I had to write half a dozen papers and study for two exams and a quiz. Which meant absolutely no time to write! So I'm stuck at 15,000 words! I'm totally going to lock myself up and not come out all week so I can finish.

+1 for commenting
+1 for linking to SU on my facebook
+3 for following you on Twitter (@DustMiteBunny)
+3 for following you on facebook

Total = 8

Oh and I already own Afterlife, which I plan to read next month, after I finish NaNoWriMo! (It's my reward for finishing *grin*)

heatwave16 said...

I have heard of NaNoWriMo, but I haven't tried it yet. I still have cold writers feet or I guess hands. :)

+1 comment
+1 posted on twitter -


Bethany C. said...

I hadn't heard of NaNoWriMo until a few months ago when Lisa Shearin started blogging about it. I don't know if I'd want my favorite authors doing it because I'd hate for a book/scene/idea to be rushed for the sake of word count. Even though I whine that their books don't come out often enough! But it would be good for authors like me who are chronic procrastinators- it just depends on one's personality and working style.


Claire Dawn said...

I am doing Nano, and about 10,000 words behind. Not worried yet, although I did break out the big guns today- Write or Die. It's going to be a wild ride.

PS, my Nano is a contemp YA.

muchlanguage (at) gmail (dot) com

April X said...

Thanks for the suggestions of Write or Die :) I'm extremely behind and it will definitely help :) I'm doing YWP so I lowered my goal to 30,000... still I need like 20,000 words in the next couple of days lol.

+1 I commented
+1 I tweeted:!/ramen_addict/status/7803185078996992
+3 I follow you on twitter @ramen_addict

Kimberly B. said...

I'm doing NaNoWriMo for the second time this year. It's really hard because I'm moving, so I've had to squeeze in writing in between first apartment hunting and then packing. But I'm less than 7000 words away from 50,000, so I'm going to keep on going.
I like NaNoWriMo, even though some of what I'm producing isn't all that well thought out, because in my opinion it strips away some of the mystique of writing, specifically the part of that mystique that makes it easy not to write. When it's not November, I worry about being inspired, and don't try to write when I'm not. I obsess over how to say what I want to get across (okay, I do that during NaNo, too), but during NaNo I don't have time for that, either. I just write and worry about fixing it later. And that can be a very empowering thing.
I follow you on twitter.
I tweeted about this contest (@KimBea)
I sent you a friend request on facebook (Kimberly Bea)
So including this comment, that's four points.
Thanks for the great giveaway!
beax0002 (at) umn (dot) edu

heidi330 said...

This is my 2nd time on NaNo. Last year I did it to just get the experience. This year I decided to try for the full 50,000. I found if you write for 2 hours a day without stopping in that time period you can really make the words add up. Im over the 50,000 but still going. I know with revisions I will delete and change a lot of them but Im hoping to not leave anything out that might make a better story. Good Luck to everyone writing...
Also Great tips!!!! I can use all the tips I can find..

10 pts I've done all of them i always do.. I love this site..

Mysteriousrose said...

I had not heard of NaNo before I read your post but wow am I glad I did, I will check it out. Thank you.

+1 comment
+1 posted on twitter:
+1 shared on facebook:!/permalink.php?story_fbid=157356737643030&id=100000852732699
+1 linking to Supernatural Underground:
+3 follow you on facebook (Mette Jensen)
+3 follow you on twitter (mette_s_jensen)

Total entries: 10


Sullivan McPig said...

YaY! Thanks. I replied!