So, if any of you read my last Cat’s Cradle entry “Writing During Covid-19” or follow me on the Legendary Novel Writing Challenge blog, you’ll already know that National Novel Writing Month did not go very well for me this year due to a variety of factors. However, I did finish with 40,000 words out of my 50,000 word count goal, and the majority of it did stay on topic. Many thanks to everyone who followed along with me, giving likes, comments, and encouragement!
Also, there was something kind of fun that I did want to share in the aftermath:
I work in a public library, and because of the pandemic, all of our programs are currently virtual. For November I ran a series of NaNo writing events on our Facebook page, and while I got almost no engagement on the posts, it was something that I did keep up with every day during the month. Our library Facebook page is changing soon, so I wanted to preserve those posts and their pictures here for posterity. (Note that “LTN” is an abbreviation for my library, so “LTNWrimos” refers to folks from my library who are participating.) All pictures that are not personal photographs came from either Pinterest or the National Novel Writing Month Pep Talks.
National Novel Writing Month, Week 1:
October 31: National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow, November 1st! And we get an extra hour of writing time, thanks to Daylight Savings Time! What project are you going to work on? A memoir? A collection of short stories? A romance novel? A comic book script?
Don’t forget that we have goody bags available at the library for aspiring writers!
November 1: Hi everyone! Miss Kat here, and welcome to the first day of National Novel Writing Month! Daylight Savings Time always throws me for a loop, especially since my cats have NO concept of a time change so I’ll probably have to get up earlier than I’d like for the next few days.
But getting up early means more time to write! I started writing at about 7:30am and reached my word count goal around 9am. (I’m participating in the official NaNoWriMo, so I have to write a minimum of 1,667 words or about 3 pages every day.)
But what if 1,667 words just isn’t feasible for your schedule? Then you set a word count goal that works for you. By having a daily goal, you can make incremental progress that requires less time daily, but needs a long-term commitment. NaNoWriMo does have a more extreme goal, so I want to offer an alternative way to look at and set daily word count goals which has helped me a lot in the past:
“The Legendary Novel Writing Challenge (LeNoWriCha): An Upgrade to NaNoWriMo” by David Greenshell
Happy writing! #NaNoWriMo2020 #amwriting #LTNWrimos #ScheduleSunday
November 2: #MotivationMonday #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 3: #TuesdayTips
How about some tips to help you buckle down and write? Let’s talk about limiting distractions and moving forward!
1) SHUT THE DOOR. If you have the option to shut the world out for a while, do it. Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door that says when you’ll be done writing. Or, if you don’t have a separate space, wear a special shirt or hat that signals to your family that you are not to be disturbed.
2) TURN OFF THE INTERNET/BLOCK SOCIAL MEDIA/HIDE THE PHONE. This is my biggest time-sink and distraction, so I try to work on a medium that doesn’t connect to the internet (paper, typewriter) or use a timed blocker of some kind to filter out distracting sites.
3) FIND A TIME WITH THE LEAST NUMBER OF DISTRACTIONS. Everyone is different and have different schedules. Some people are night owls while others write during lunch breaks. I personally like to write first time in the morning before my brain gets drained by the stress of the day.
4) DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP IF YOU DON’T REACH THE SESSION’S GOAL. A little bit of writing is better than no writing at all. On days when you feel inspired, write a lot to make up for the days when life interrupts. Remember that even a single new sentence is more than what you had yesterday!
November 4: #WriterMemeWednesday #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 5: I can never get the hang of Thursdays. How about a pep talk from Charlie Jane Anders to get over the midweek slump?
#ThursdayThoughts #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 6: #FridayPhoto
Share a picture of your writing space! I’m set up in my living room/bedroom with my Dana Alphasmart, a candle, a cup of tea, story notes, some toys that inspired my current novel, and, of course, a cat.
Where are you writing? #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 7: #WordSprintSaturday
Wow, the first week of National Novel Writing Month is almost complete! The start of the weekend is the perfect time to catch up or get ahead on your word count goals with some Word Sprints. It promises to be a beautiful day, so get outside and write if you can!
WHAT IS A WORD SPRINT?
A word sprint is when you set a timer (phone, conventional ticker, hourglass, etc) for 15-30 minutes and aim to write as much as possible before the timer runs out. You can start with a prompt, such as an image or a particular scene you want to write, or just freewrite whatever comes to mind. This sprint helps bypass your inner editor that wants to agonize over the placement of each an every word, which can halt creativity. NaNoWriMo hosts regular word sprints on Twitter @NaNoWordSprints.
We’re also having Virtual Word Sprints via Zoom Saturdays at 4:30pm, if you want to sign up for that! Can’t make it today? No worries; you can register for an upcoming Saturday in the “Special Comments” section of the registration form!
Happy writing! #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
National Novel Writing Month, Week 2:
November 8: #SelfCareSunday #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
It’s the beginning of Week 2 of National Novel Writing Month! Maybe you’ve done well in reaching your goals during Week 1 and feel exhilarated. Or maybe things haven’t been going so well and you feel overwhelmed. Take some time to take care of yourself today. Celebrate the wins and give yourself a boost over the low points. Go outside in the sunshine, relax and read a book, drink some of that special tea blend you’ve been saving, treat yourself to a special snack or purchase you’ve been eyeing. Whatever it is that re-energizes and revives you.
“4 Myths of Self Care for Writers” by Jan M. Flynn on Medium
November 9: #MotivationMonday #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 10: #TuesdayTips
How about some tips to help you buckle down and write? Let’s talk about how to keep up momentum while writing!
1) MAKE A SCENE LIST. Having a list of scenes that I want to write for the story lets me jump around the manuscript and write what matches my emotional state. If I’m happy, I can write a happy scene. If I’m sad, I can work on a sad scene. This way I can get things done without being bound to writing everything in chronological order.
2) HAVE AN OUTLINE. This works better if you make one before NaNoWriMo starts, but you can sit down anytime and hammer out a general idea of the beginning, middle, and end of the story so it doesn’t feel like you’re flailing around or writing in circles. Just remember you can always explore ideas outside this framework!
3) END ON A CLIFFHANGER. Some people like to end in the middle of a scene so they’re motivated to continue the next day. I personally like making each writing session like an episode in a TV show that ends with something hanging to draw you back next week.
4) INSPIRATIONAL MUSIC. As long as you don’t spend too much time finding the perfect soundtrack for your novel, music (and artwork) can be a great inspiration to help you get through scenes.
November 11: #WriterMemeWednesday #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 12: Time for another pep talk! This one is from Alexis Daria:
#ThursdayThoughts #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 13: #FridayPhoto
I love making temporary book covers for whatever project I’m working on. This is the one I made for my current NaNoWriMo project, “DragonFriend.”
What would your book’s cover look like?
November 14: #WordSprintSaturday
If you’re like me, you’re probably a little behind on your NaNoWriMo word count. (Okay, maybe a lot behind.) Which makes this afternoon’s word sprint a great time to start catching up… or even getting ahead, if you’ve been motivated thus far!
Be sure to register (preferably by 4pm) if you want to participate in the virtual word sprint at 4:30pm!
National Novel Writing Month, Week 3:
November 15: #SelfCareSunday
Week 3 of National Novel Writing Month tends to be the hardest. You’ve been going for two weeks straight. The pace can be brutal. Maybe you’ve fallen behind and feel like you won’t catch up, so why bother continuing? It’s tempting to quit in Week 3. Believe me, I’ve been there.
But you also have a story that you wanted to tell. And that story is waiting for you to tell it. It may be hard, but the thrill of holding a completed draft in your hand at the end will be worth it.
One thing that is very important for writing and creativity, as well as general health and well-being is sleep. Getting enough of it and getting quality sleep. I know I’ve been staying up later than I should, looking at screens too long, or oversleeping in the morning. Learn more about the important connection between sleep and creativity in the article linked below!
“Sleep and Writing: How Are They Connected?” by Noah Rue on The Writing Cooperative
November 16: #MotivationMonday #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 17: #TuesdayTips
Week 3 of NaNo can be a bit of a slump, so here are some ideas to keep going and reach your goals!
1) EXERCISE. Before a writing session or if you get stuck, try taking a walk, lift a few light weights, or yoga. Anything to get the blood flowing and your brain back on track.
2) HAVE A TREAT WHILE WRITING. I don’t drink soda often, but for NaNoWriMo, I will get a bottle of Dr. Pepper a have one glass of that while writing, especially if it’s a late-night session.
3) BRIBE YOURSELF. Example: one year I kept going by allowing myself to watch one episode of a TV show I was into for every 500 words I wrote. Find a treat and use it as a bride to keep going!
4) DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP. If you don’t reach the goal for a writing session, don’t look on it as a failure. A little bit of writing really is better than no writing at all. It’s more than you had yesterday and every little bit helps!
November 18: #WriterMemeWednesday #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 19: #ThursdayThoughts
Here’s this week’s pep talk on how not to be afraid to write from Kacen Callender: https://nanowrimo.org/kacen-callender
November 20: #FridayPhoto #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 21: #WordSprintSaturday #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
Which of these would you prefer to use to time a word sprint?
National Novel Writing Month, Week 4:
November 22: #SelfCareSunday
We’re in the home stretch of National Novel Writing Month! Here are some self care tips to help you get through this final week of intense writing that you can carry with you beyond NaNoWriMo:
“The Writer’s Guide to Self-Care and Preservation” by NY Book Editors
November 23: #MotivationMonday #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 24: #TuesdayTips
As we go through the final week of National Novel Writing Month, there are a few tips I’d like you to keep in mind which you can carry with you far beyond November.
1) FIND YOUR COMMUNITY. Writing can be a lonely, solitary business and it’s important to find like-minded people to commiserate and chat with, ask advice or help from, and generally provide both different perspectives and a place you feel safe expressing yourself. There are a lot of online communities out there, and whenever the pandemic ends and restrictions on in-person gatherings are lifted, check out local libraries, bookstores, comic shops, and coffee houses for gathering places of fellow writers.
2) READ, READ, READ. If you do not enjoy reading, then it will be very difficult to become a writer. And even if you don’t want to write professionally, it’s still a great idea to absorb as much literature as you can. Read within your genre, read outside your genre, read classics and modern works, read nonfiction for research and for your own edification, read how-to books and blogs on writing, read graphic novels and kids books and books for teens and adults. Read for knowledge and for pleasure. Trust me, it helps.
3) ATTEND WRITING EVENTS OR WORKSHOPS. If you want to learn about the craft or business of writing, there are lots of events out there that one can attend. Some are free, some cost money, some are in person, and some are virtual. Be judicious with both your time and money, but it is very helpful to hear from professional writers, especially if they write in your genre, and see what insights they have. For science fiction and fantasy writers, there is a free, virtual “Writer Igniter” Summit running from November 30th-December 5th. You can sign up and either watch the panels live or on demand (although only for a limited time.) Here’s the link in case anyone is interested: https://writer-igniter-sff-summit.heysummit.com/
4) KEEP WRITING. It takes a while to write a story. It can be a long, hard slog sometimes. But there are bright moments in the dark that make it worthwhile. Maybe writing on a regular or professional basis isn’t your cup of tea. Maybe your life is just too hectic to write that novel or that memoir right now. We all have obligations. But if you can, make the time to do a little writing every day, even if it’s only a few lines. Keep writing and one day you’ll have a manuscript in your hands.
November 25: #WriterMemeWednesday #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
November 26: #ThursdayThoughts
The final pep talk from the official NaNoWriMo site for this season comes to us from Elizabeth Acevedo. There’s always a reason not to write your novel, but there are more reasons why you should.
November 27: #FridayPhoto #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
Here’s a picture of some of the cast of “DragonFriend!” (Because yes, every character in the story was originally a toy.)
November 28: #WordSprintSaturday
Hello, Wrimos! Today at 4:30pm is the last official virtual word sprint for the library’s edition of National Novel Writing Month! Be sure to register if you’d like to participate!
November 29: #ScheduleSunday
We’re at the second-to-last day of National Novel Writing Month. And while you’re probably busy trying to squeeze out a few more words, I want you to take a moment to pause and take stock. How have you felt writing this month? How well did you schedule work? Did you find certain days, times, locations, or number of words easy or harder? If you’ve found something that works well for you, great! Keep it up! If there’s room for improvement, take a look and see what you can try changing or fixing. Keep track of the adjustments you make so you know what works if you need to make changes in the future. And be aware that life is not static so you’ll probably have to adapt multiple times over the years as your circumstances change. Write on!
November 30: #MotivationMonday
It’s the final day of National Novel Writing Month! Let’s get some words down & make a run for our final goal! #NaNoWriMo2020 #LTNWrimos
December 1: My stats for National Novel Writing Month 2020