NaNo 2020: How’s Your NaNo Doing #2.

I’m very happy to say that I’ve ‘won’ NaNoWriMo. I finished my 50,000 words the other day, which has pushed me well ahead of schedule in my goal to write 261,000 words in a year (I’m already half way there and I only started at the beginning of September). I’m not done the novel I was working on yet, I still have another 40K or so to go, but getting to 50K is a huge achievement, because once you’re this far into a novel, it has momentum, it wants to keep going, and it doesn’t want to stop.

I am, however, going to slow down my drafting now. I’ve realized over the past couple days that I’m tired from pushing myself so hard and that I’m missing things like writing on paper, rewriting short stories, and working on a diverse range of projects, including a bit of terrible poetry.

Now that I’ve completed NaNo 2020, I’m revising my writing goal back down to 1,000 – 2,000 new words a day and shifting a lot of my writing time over to rewriting. If I miss a couple days of drafting, I’m not going to be upset because I know where my project is now and I’m not worried about losing the plot. I’m also going back to taking weekends off and focusing on reading at that time, because I believe reading is a big part of writing. Also, I have Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War to enjoy this month and I’m super excited for the 4th volume of The Stormlight Archive.

As I shift back to rewriting, I find that I’m actually really looking forward to it. Usually I dread rewriting. I love the rush of writing something new, going places I’ve never been before, meeting characters I’ve never met, but apparently it is tiring for me to do it for too long. And if I don’t ever rewriting the things I’ve drafted, then those things are never ready to be shared with the world, and that is a big point for rewriting!

So, that’s where I’m at. And, of course, I always celebrate when I make a goal, whether big or small. This time my celebration was a bit different because of Covid, because it’s November and it’s NaNo, and I’m still working on finishing my novel so I’m staying in. But, there’s still drive-thru, and sometimes a nice latté is all I need to feel the sweet satisfaction of scratching something off my to-do list.

To Do:

Complete NaNoWriMo 2020

How is your NaNoWriMo Doing?

JEH

NaNoWriMo 2020: Why We Should All Do It This Year

Happy Day One of NaNoWriMo everyone! If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any amount of time, then you know that I’m an annual NaNo-er. My first NaNo was in 2006 – 14 years ago, and I’m doing it again this year with even more enthusiasm than I’ve had in some other years. This is a great year for NaNo, not just for me, but for everyone. I doubt I really have to spell it out, but I will anyway. Doing NaNo this year is a great way to pass the time while staying home, while trying to decrease the virus load and help end this pandemic sooner rather than later. With the news yesterday that England is heading into another national lockdown, it is a bit disheartening, unless, of course, you’re planning to write a novel this month, because then yes, this is exactly what you need to keep your butt in your chair and writing away madly!

In my fourteen years of NaNo, I’ve written many books. Some of them successufully (and others that turned out to be still uncompleted flops). After finishing my NaNo novels, I’ve gone one to publish many of them, and you can do this too, but you also don’t have to. You can write just for yourself. And let me say that while publishing and sharing my hard work with others is great, the best part is actually living in another world for a full month.

With a load of coffee by my side and left over halloween chocolate, I consider myself ready. I love writing fantasy, which makes my escape all the more distanced. When I was writing Tales of a Red-headed Sea-Witch, the first book my Black Depths series, I loved nothing more than settling into the log house in the woods that my character, Nessa, calls home. For a few hours a day, I became a sea-witch. I casted magic spells, made friends, and fought off monsters. I think we could all use a little bit of that control right now.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of doing NaNoWriMo, let me break it down for you. NaNoWriMo is a promise to yourself to write. You can write about whatever you want, you can make your sentences as short or as long as you want, you can chat with other fellow writers on the forum if you want. The only thing you have to do is write something—and really, if all you write is a title, that’s fine. NaNo isn’t graded. But if you do decide to write a novel this November, what you’ll really be doing is spending a month of your life daydreaming about the kind of world you’d rather be living in right now. Which can be just as powerful as taking a vacation. And heck, if it’s a vacation you really want, why not writing a novel about the vacation you would be on if it wasn’t for Covid-19.

So, come join me and many other writers doing NaNoWriMo this year. It’ll be a blast.

Next time: more on my new series, The Gemology Saga, and the cover for the first novel. And also, how am I doing at NaNo.

Go forth, fearless writers, and write!

JEH

How I Won NaNoWriMo, and How I’m Winning My Writing Year

I did it! I won NaNoWriMo again! And this was probably the easiest year for me because I love my current Work in Progress so much! I’m very happy that I managed to push through NaNo this year, especially given that I’m in the middle of a major house renovation (Hello New Office! —More on that later).

First I want to talk a bit about how I managed to win NaNo when I’m so busy, when I have an incredibly busy day job, a busy personal life, and a major renovation going on right now.

I did it by making time. Every night I did some writing. If I didn’t make the full 1676 words per day one day, I tried to make sure I could catch up the next. I booked time for myself on the weekends to get extra words done, I made it to my weekly writing productivity meet-ups, and we had one Saturday marathon where I wrote a whopping 11,000 words to pass the 50,000 word mark. (I may have bought myself a box of chocolates to cheer myself on… They may also now be all gone…). You can see my daily wordcount summarized below, along with my wordcount since July 1, 2019, when I decided I would write 500 words a day for an entire year!

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So, I won NaNo, and I did it by making time, but also by focusing on my task. When I sat down to write, I wrote. I didn’t daydream or browse the internet or get lost in research like I often do, I just got to it because I knew that my time was limited. This is why I love NaNo, because it gives me a deadline, and deadlines can be the best motivation of all.

Did you do NaNoWriMo this year? What gave you motivation to work?

JEH

It’s Halfway NaNoWriMo Day

If you’re a 2017 NaNoWriMo participant, then you know today is halfway day!

I hope your novel writing journey is going fantastically! Me, I’m exactly on target, though I’m hoping to write more tonight and finish at least one day ahead.

My trusty NaNo mug has been reminding me to write. I’ve also been attempting to work on my final edit of The Torc: Artifacts of Avalum Book One, which can be previewed here: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/WNGLSOVB1GOP

The best news, however, is that I have finished my first draft of The Circlet: Artifacts of Avalum Book Two! I can’t wait to have these books out in the world, and to be done another successful NaNoWriMo!

JEH

Finding the Inspiration

It’s another year of NaNoWriMo, and as usual I’m flipping up and down with both motivation and inspiration.

I had a great weekend marathon-ing with one of my writing groups. I drank plenty of coffee, brought out my favorite soundtracks (The Hobbit), and not only caught up on my word count but got a couple days ahead.

Fast forward a couple days later and I’ve slowed down again. Today, I’m currently sitting right on par, though I hope to get another couple thousand words done in short spurts throughout the day (yes, that’s often how I get my writing done).

As for the motivation problem, I’ve had to bribe myself again. This year, I’ve decided that if I win NaNo, I get to buy myself a three month subscription to a book box of my choice. I’m already excited, which means I better keep my fingers moving or no books for me! How is your NaNo writing going?

JEH

NaNo Prep Step #3 and Happy Halloween

There’s one last step for my brief series on preparing for NaNoWriMo, which starts tomorrow—Whoohoo *throw the confetti, sound the horns, the party is about to begin!*

#3 – Clean Up, Stock Up, and Feet Up

First things first, clean your house/apartment/tent/camper van, wherever it is you will be living, working, and writing for the next month. NaNo is a busy time, and you may not really have time to clean over the next 30 days (though, if you’re like me, you’ll use cleaning a finely-honed method of procrastination). But, if you clean now, there is less to clean later, and hence, less excuse to put off writing those 1, 667 words a day.

Once everything is clean, do a run to the grocery store. Shopping is another one of those things that can get in the way during November, so it get it done now while you still can. Pick items that will last a whole month but also provide some nutrition (like frozen burritos-my fav). Then, as it is Halloween, get some candy for daily rewards and instant energy rushes which may or may not carry you through your daily goal. Feel free to obtain said candy by robbing kids/cousins/friends/sisters/brothers/partners candy stash. No one really needs all that candy anyway.IMG_4700.JPG

And then, once your space is sparkling and your cupboards stocked, sit back and put your feet up for a few hours. Watch a movie or a show or just enjoy not being busy. This may be your last chance to sit still for the next 30 days.

Good luck tomorrow and Happy Halloween!

JEH

Preparing for NaNoWriMo Step #2

So I was supposed to post about how to prepare for NaNoWriMo a couple days ago, which leads me to step #2: DO NOT GET SICK! Okay, you can’t help this. I couldn’t help this. But I’ve spent the past couple days curled up in bed feeling close to death (why does being sick always feel like that?), and getting pretty much nothing done in regards to the approach of November 1st EXCEPT, that I’ve actually been able to do a lot of thinking. So really, maybe step #2 should be THINK. Play around with your story in your mind. Whatever you write prior to November 1st doesn’t count towards the end goal of 50,000 words, but it does help sort out where you what your stories to go, and where you want your characters to go.

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Personally, I believe that whatever story you tell, character is the most important part. No one will care about flying dragons, dark cafes, or restaurants with blue tables unless you have a character your readers can relate to and want to hang out with with. More importantly, that YOU want to hang out with. I mean, you’re going to be spending the next 30 days with this person/animal/thing. Whatever your character, make sure it’s a good one. Get to know him/her/it. Ask your character questions. What do they eat? Where do they sleep? HOW do they sleep?

More importantly:

  1. What songs do they sing in the shower (or do they want to shoot all people who sing in the shower)?
  2. How do they feel about Christmas?
  3. What is their best memory of Halloween ever?
  4. How does your character react when they smell vomit?
  5. If your character suddenly inherited a private island or a small kingdom, what kind of ruler would they be?
  6. Who does your character call when sick?
  7. How does your character feel about Trump?
  8. How does character feel history?
  9. If you were sit down and have lunch with your character, what would be the first thing they want to talk to you about?
  10. What kind of blankets does your character sleep with? Hard mattress or soft?

Take the time to get to know the one you’ll be spending time with for the next month. You won’t regret it. The more questions you ask your character prior to writing your story means the more enriching details you will have to carry the plot.

JEH

Preparing for NaNoWriMo Step #1

Today was finally the day. I made my way over to the National Novel Writing Month website, NaNoWriMo.org and signed up for another year of novel writing insanity. I’ve been doing NaNo for a long time now, because I find it to be a great motivational tool for sitting down and getting my stories on paper. This week, I’m finally sitting down to start preparing for the month-long marathon which begins on November 1st. Some years I have  more time to prepare than others, and this year I have about a week.

So the first thing I did after signing up on the website was find a notebook.

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I primarily write on my laptop, but I still use a pretty notebook for things like character development, notes, maps, side stories, history, flowcharts, etc. All that stuff that doesn’t easily translate into MicroSoft Word of Pages. Plus, pretty notebooks are another form of motivation for me. After notebook selection, I brainstorm a novel title, hopefully one I won’t change, because I write it in big, colourful letters on the first page of my book.

And now I’m on my way.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting a bit about character brainstorming, so be sure to check in.

JEH