I Didn’t Win NaNoWriMo, But…

…I did write throughout the month of November. And for the first time in all the years I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo, I am not beating myself up for not winning. I am not talking bad about myself to myself for not reaching 50,000 words. I started 3 different stories in November. Two of them I’m not sure they’ll go anywhere, but the third one…? That one has some serious promise. It’s the one I started writing while I was over in Birmingham a few weeks ago. It’s the one story that has the least number of words on it, but it has more heart in it in those 6000 words that it does have.

One of the things that I have done, since I haven’t beat myself up about not winning, is I have applauded myself for writing consistently throughout the month of November. it was something I hadn’t done in a really fucking long time. I mean A Really Fucking Long Time! And writing like that felt good. Even on the days I didn’t write more than 300 words, it still felt good to write them.

I’ve been listening to different podcasts and have seen for a while now about writers who write anywhere from 5000 words a day to 10,000 words a day…every day. Those who are 6-8 months ahead of their latest release. And let me tell you, seeing that so much, seeing so many writers claiming that and proving it…It’s incredibly disheartening when I’m sitting here trying to be proud of my 300 words that felt like I had to carve up my insides to get out. Especially when I used to be one of those who could write 3000 words a days with relative ease and have books coming out on a consistent basis. But proud of my 300 bleeding words I am. We all start or in my case start over somewhere.

So, while I didn’t officially win, to me, I won by virtue of the fact that I started writing and have kept writing and will continue to write until something or several somethings are finished.

I hope you’re having a good week so far and I hope that you’re proud of yourself for being consistent in something, for starting something, for pushing forward and never giving up, for showing up for whatever you need to show up for that sets you on fire because I’m proud of you.

Lissa

Slow Write

As I was thinking about what to title this post, the song Slow Ride by Foghat kept popping into my head for some reason, but the words kind of sounded the same and so, Slow Write became the title.

The song starts out…

Slow Ride, Take It Easy…

And that’s the approach I’ve chosen to take with my writing for the time being, for the near future, maybe longer. I don’t know.

I’ve always loved writing in notebooks and buying all the cute pens and pencils, color coordinating everything, including the story within. It sounds strange, maybe, but it sort of fit with my own brand of OCD.

Author Whitney G. writes her books by hand, has them typed up by someone (she used to do it herself) and when I first found this out, I was really kind of…surprised, I think. In this current landscape of write publish write publish write publish, there’s someone who still writes their books by hand? I was fascinated and tucked it away in the back of my mind. Then, a few things happened.

One, my office. I now have an office. I could move out of the family room into the converted dining room, repaint the walls, add my own things. This led to going through old notebooks from the past decade of writing for publication. I have a few dozen notebooks and hundreds of pages with notes and the beginnings of ideas and a chapter here or there and in some cases, half written books. And I got to thinking…

Two, NaNoWriMo. I was planning to participate. No one is expecting anything from me. I think, in part, my readers have given up on me which I understand, so, why not try this writing a book by hand thing. I’m writing by hand in journals every day, taking notes by hand in a mindset course, taking notes from books by hand… It seemed like the perfect time to play with it. Besides, if JK Rowling could write Harry Potter longhand on legal pads, then dammit, I could pants a novel or a couple novellas for NaNoWriMo.

Three, my eyes. They don’t like looking at screens all day long anymore. Computer, phone, tablet, Kindle, television. My eyes get tired much quicker these days. They get scratchy and dry and honestly, I get tired of being in one place to write, I get tired of being constantly distracted by the bright colors of the computer and the million other things I could be doing.

And so, here we are…

It’s not easy. Some days I want to just sit at the computer and type because the words would fill the page much faster. But I don’t give in. This blog post is the first time in a week that I’ve turned on the computer and let me tell you, it’s hard updating the NaNoWriMo site on my phone cause their site is not mobile friendly.

The process of writing by hand is a deliberate one for me. I don’t know how it is for others, but for me… The notebook has to be just the right one, the right color. The pencil has to be comfortable and also, the right color. But it can also be a whim… I can pick up the notebook and start writing at any moment. I can get a few lines of dialog or a paragraph in whereas with the computer, it’s not quite that easy unless I’m carrying a laptop or Chromebook or tablet around with me. The phone can be used in a pinch and I’ve done that before, written a thousand words or so on the phone in an app. But this process of writing by hand, writing slower… I’m enjoying the deliberateness of it. I’m enjoying the freedom and constraint of it. I’m enjoying the numbers adding up at the end of the day without me stressing over the word count at the bottom of the computer screen.

And yes, I have to count out each and every word, each and every day to figure out where I’m at for NaNoWriMo, but it’s been worth it for me. Of course, we are only on day 8, but that’s 8 days of writing something, writing anything and that’s something I haven’t done in a very long time.

There’s something wonderful to be said for slowing down, for being deliberate and intentional with the formation of each word.

Happy National Novel Writing Month!

Please hold me!!!

Nah… I’ve got this. Maybe.

I’ve never won NaNoWriMo. I’ve never even come close. I usually give up and try to figure something else out and then get lost in baking and cooking for Thanksgiving and never look back, only come December to feel like a complete and utter failure because I couldn’t get a measly 50,000 words written in 30 days. I mean, look at all those who DO it! Look at all those who do it on a monthly or hell, do it every 2 weeks all year long! And me, I couldn’t even do it for one month, one freakin’ month.

That was the shit I’d tell myself every year. And sure, I told myself a few times that I wasn’t going to participate at all, but then I’d give in and fail before I got started good. Like… 2 days. Maybe 3. But 2 days of doing it, of cranking out words, of getting more than the minimum daily word count of 1667 and I’d be on such a roll and I’d be so gung-ho and I’d be… Done. I would doddle through the next week or so, but no real effort. I’d tell myself next year would be better. And news flash, next year would not be better.

So, why am I doing it at all? Because I love a challenge. Because my head is screwed on a little different this time around. Because I can’t help myself. I won Camp NaNoWriMo over the summer and damned if I’m not going to give NaNoWriMo a whopping good try.

I have been really excited this year for NaNoWriMo. I’ve been working on getting my house clean so I wouldn’t have to do it over the weekend, and I’ve done the grocery shopping and some meal prep and some organization stuff to keep me on track and I’ve been so damn excited that… Wait for it… I burnt myself out two days ago. I was exhausted. Literally exhausted. I couldn’t put two words together. I was in bed and asleep before 10pm and slept nearly 9 hours. That was a lot for me considering I usually only sleep 4-6 hours, if I’m lucky. But when I woke up yesterday, I felt re-energized and ready to go. I simply hadn’t paced my excitement.

And now, today is the day. Today is the day hundreds of thousands of writers around the world attempt to hash out 50,000 words in the next 30 days. This year should be interesting for the writers in US who celebrate Thanksgiving as the last 3 days of NaNoWriMo take place over Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Rivalry Saturday.

So, as author Chris Fox states at the end of most of his YouTube videos, I have to get back to the writing.

If you read this and are participating, I am wishing you the best of luck.

If you read this and are thinking about it, but unsure, try it. Despite my previous years of not finishing, you will learn a lot about yourself as a writer. Just visit the website and sign up https://nanowrimo.org/

If you read this and aren’t quite ready for the 50,000 word novel challenge, especially at the holidays, there’s always Camp NaNoWriMo which is held in both April and July with word count goals of anywhere from 10,000 to 1,000,000. I will be participating each of those months next year.

If you’re interested, I’ve created a Facebook group for moral support, kicking ass support, or whatever other support you may need to get through NaNoWriMo. There are also dozens of word sprint groups on Facebook, local NaNoWriMo groups, forums on the NaNoWriMo site itself, so… Join in somewhere. You won’t regret it.

Guest: Ria Amber Tesia

Catch up from across the pond with Amber Tesia.

Hey guys,

How are you? Hope you’re all well! December is always a busy month and with Christmas around the corner (triple whoop!) I thought I’d write about what I’ve been up to this past week. In between finalising the second edition of my debut novel Screaming Snowflakes, working on the sequel and screenplay adaptation, freelance writing in addition to blogging (phew, takes a deep breath), the hours quickly and easily melt away like snow in the early morning sun.

I’m really excited about Screaming Snowflakes, the latest edition which went live only two days ago (check it out here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Screaming-Snowflakes-ebook/dp/B0077JMQWW). The e-book also has a brand spanking new excerpt from the sequel and I had blast writing it. It’s a Gothic romance with a supernatural twist. The three book saga will see things get a whole lot darker (positively apocalyptic, hint hint) for the two protagonists, Eleanor and the altogether delicious Raphael.

To keep me grounded in reality (and not just stuck in the fictional world I love to inhabit) I also ran my first Creative Writing Workshop on Thursday, which went down a storm. I love connecting with fellow writers and I’m never happier than when chatting away to creatives, steaming hot latte in hand. I’m always intrigued by the lives of other writers; what they write about, why they write and the methods used to get those creative juices flowing. It was an informative session we chatted about Creative Writing, E-publishing, social media and everything else in between.

What about you – why do you write? Are there any tips or tricks that you would like to share? There’s this really cool app that was recommended to me by a friend. Write Or Die is for those who have a procrastination problem. I have never had writer’s block (I am weirdly challenged by the blank page in an unspoken battle of wills), but recently, I have been indulging in task avoidance. With the Write Or Die app, you set a word count, time limit and if you don’t accomplish your target, you’re reprimanded or made to feel guilty courtesy of the level of punishment meted out by app. If you haven’t tried, it, I recommend that you do, because as long as you keep typing, you’re ‘safe’. This is my app du jour and great for a writer or anyone working to strict daily deadlines.

Now, one of the things I love about the writing fraternity is how it is so supportive of other writers. We will cheer on and promote other writers, providing that all important platform for writing talent to give their masterpiece-in-waiting airspace. Initiatives like NaNaWriMo and calls for Guest Posts are, I think, the way forward for any writer out there, regardless if they have a literary agent or not. I was part of NaNoWriMo last month and wrote just under 51,000 words. The story is in no way finished (editing it is going to be a complete pain in the ahem, eye), but it was beyond cool to connect with other writers as we encouraged each other to hit that all important 50,000 word target. Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? How did you find it?  What makes you write? I would love to hear from you. Hope you had a great weekend!

Love Ax

Bio:
Amber is a loquacious freelance writer and blogger. An English Literature graduate with a penchant for reading and political PR, she has penned her debut novel Screaming Snowflakes (the first in a three book saga), is working on the sequel, screenplay and eight novellas. She loves exploring new opportunities and can usually be found head buried in a book (Dickens, Dumas and Rowling are the usual suspects), or glued to Hollywood classics (On The Waterfront and Some Like It Hot are just a few to mention). She has an unhealthy fixation with political spin doctors and brie (thankfully not together because that would just be plain weird). Ideal dinner guests would be The Dalai Lama, Kenneth Branagh, Carla Bruni, David Heyman, Joe Biden, Mickey Rourke, and Sarah Palin (OK the last one was a joke – sorry Sarah, but The Dalai Lama wouldn’t approve).

Website:
Twitter: @Ria_Amber_Tesia
Facebook: Ria Amber Tesia

Revealed Now At Barnes & Noble and All Romance eBooks!

You can now find all three Masked books at Barnes and Noble and All Romance eBooks! I’ll be uploading to Bookstrand as soon as I can see straight.

All I’ve done for the last 3 days is format and upload and format again and learn so much new stuff in this realm of self-publishing that I’m a bit bleary eyed. Forget NaNoWriMo…lol. I am glad though that I have been learning. I’ve been asking a lot of questions and trying different things and as I plan to continue self-publishing throughout next year, these learning curve frustrations are good.

I’ll write more about why I’m self-publishing another day.

For now though, I wanted to give y’all the links (B&N, ARe) so you can go read about the latest developments with these two awesome but complex men.

~lissa