I did it! I wrote a 50,000 word novel in 30 days! I’m pretty sure it’s in desperate need of editing, but this is more than I have ever written before for fun.
You’ve heard that old saying, right?
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
NaNoWriMo is a 50,000 word elephant. The project is designed to be taken one day at a time – ~1,667 words a day equals 50,000 words at the end of the month.
However, not every big project can be divided into thirty days and dealt with so simply. What other ways can you break down that hairy project you’ve been avoiding?
Work on your project for 30 minutes. No more than that. Set a timer (I recommend E.gg Timer). With some sort of external clock letting you know when to take a break, you can let yourself get lost in the work without constantly checking the clock. Then get up and walk around for a little while. If you still want to work, work for another 30 minutes. If not, then let yourself come back to it later.
When working on my NaNo story, I try to write a whole scene before I stop. If you’re cleaning the kitchen, take a break after finishing the stove, or cleaning out the fridge, or whatever. If you’re reading for class, read one chapter, or one section.
I’m in the middle of a lengthy application. Every time I sit down to work on it, I try to completely finish one section before moving on to something else.
This one is most useful for reading or writing. If you’re reading for class, read ten pages. If you’re writing, write 500 words. Each time you work on the project may take a different amount of time depending on how focused you are, but you will be able to stop working knowing that you’ve gotten the same amount of work done.
We’ve all heard that big projects are done one step at a time. Perhaps the above three ways to visualize steps will help you to determine how best to lay out your next project.
Until Election Day, I stayed on track with my word count. And then I got sucked into watching election results and came up 11 words short, made worse by the fact that I also used up my 400 word buffer. And today I was absorbed in reading about results and arguing about said results on facebook (honestly, it’s never a good idea).
Add to that that I had no idea what I wanted to write about today, and I was about ready to write the day off as a loss and go to bed.
Fortunately, I decided to try one more time. I opened my google doc and found the place where I’d left off. Suddenly inspiration struck, and I hit my word count for today and made good headway into tomorrow’s (slash, today’s, since it’s now past midnight ).
The moral of my story is that, sometimes, the best thing I can do for my creativity is to make sure my butt is in that chair.
Leading up to NaNo, I considered doing a coming-of-age story with Very Important Issues. The problem? That sounded like no fun at all.
Instead, I’m using some of the same characters and settings I had thought up (/pulled straight from my life) for my Very Important Story of Very Important Issues and am putting them into a fun story with workplace humor (I worked at a place that sold anal bleaching and had several legitimate conversations with people interested in purchasing two ounces of said product for $50 – I have workplace stories).
The main character is named Isa. She’s trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up (despite being in her twenties) while simultaneously building some semblance of a love life. Yes, this is a common theme, especially right now. No, I don’t care. I’m having fun writing it, and that’s the whole point anyway.
At the end of day 4, I’m still on track to reach 50,000 words at the end of the month. Yesterday, I crossed the 10% line! Even more importantly, yesterday I crossed the line of writing something that I actually like well enough to share.
Here’s an excerpt:
Aaron stared at the server as he walked away to put in their orders. “He seems sweet,” offered Lindsay. Aaron whipped his head back to the table with his face red.
“Ha – embarrassed to be caught staring?” Isa teased.
“Never! I’ll stare if I want.” Despite his claim, he didn’t turn back around, and it was a few minutes before his cheeks regained their normal color.
“It wouldn’t hurt you to do a little more staring, you know.”
Isa put a fist on the table. “Ugh – do we have to do this every week?”
“You’re touchy today.” Before Isa could answer, Lindsay turned to Aaron and mock-whispered, “I caught her taking her anger out on an innocent shoelace!”
Aaron perked up. “Ooh, what is it this time – customer drama or co-worker drama?”
Isa uncurled her fist and laid her hand out flat. She was going to tell them sooner or later anyway. “I talked to my mom this afternoon. Bobby’s getting married. They’ve already set a date for the end of June.”
Her friends’ reactions could not have been more different.
Aaron exclaimed, “The bastard! Where’s that beer?” He looked around for their server. “You’re going to need a couple of those tonight.”
Lindsay looked confused. “So? You dumped him. It’s been almost a year. Why does it matter?”
“Why does it matter? Why?” Aaron turned his whole body toward Lindsay, leaning over the round table. “Lindsay – first of all, it has not been a year. It’s been ten months.” He paused and looked to Isa for confirmation.
She nodded. “Yep, ten months.”
“Second of all, the break-up may have been ten months ago, but their wedding was supposed to be six months ago. He should still be chasing down deposits and drowning his sorrows, not planning his nuptials with the very first thing that came along after Isa. Everyone knows the one who does the dumping is the one who is supposed to move on first, but Isa hasn’t even gone on a date since breaking things off.
“And third of all, Bobby proposed after they had been dating for six years, yet he’s engaged again after just a few months?”
The server walked up with their drinks just as Aaron finished his speech. “Like I said, bastard.” The server looked at Aaron in alarm. “Oh, I didn’t mean you…” He eyed the server’s name tag. “…Jeff. I meant my friend’s ex. He’s horrible. But I bet you’re not horrible. Especially if you could keep an eye on Isa’s beer tonight. That would make you decidedly unhorrible.”
Jeff jerkily nodded his head before disappearing again. “A nervous little thing, isn’t he?” Lindsay commented.
I still don’t know the end of the story, but I’m getting closer to having a plot, and I’m starting to like some of my characters.
Thoughts? Love it? Hate it? Anything jump out at you?
Admittedly, procrastination is usually a bad thing.
However, when I’m trying to write (an essay, editing, NaNo) and just have no idea what I want to say, I am better off getting up and doing something else for awhile. (Incidentally, this is also useful when I can’t go to sleep.)
This morning, I’m NaNo-ing and doing laundry. That means that I have to interrupt myself to switch loads, but it also means that during the 30-minute wash cycle, I can focus better, knowing that I don’t have to do it forever.
Now I’m taking a real break, making an omelette (mushrooms, onions, broccoli, and cheese – yum!) and listening to Taylor Swift’s newest album.
What do you do to focus? I’d love to hear suggestions from other WriMos, as well as anyone else!
Look over at the right-hand side of this page. See that cute, innocent looking blue box? It’s going to keep track of my word count throughout the month as I attempt to write 50,000 words (about 1,667 a day).
I’m going with the peer pressure route to inspire me to keep moving forward.
In the next few weeks, I’m hoping to share with you my writing process (I say “hoping” because I’m not yet sure exactly what my writing process is).
So… here we go. A new Side Gig has officially begun!
For the month of October, Ben and I decided not to eat out and to keep a blog about it.
Not eating out: Huge success!
Keeping a blog about it: Less of a success.
I was posting every few days, and then I… wasn’t. Apologies for that. However, November is a new month and a new Side Gig.
Before I get to that, I want to look back at three of the meals I was happiest with this month. These three will enter my mealtime rotation, largely because of their versatility, low-cost, and tastiness.
Only slightly more difficult than pasta, quinoa is healthy and, frankly, pretty bland – making it the perfect base for all sorts of delicious things. I boiled mine with vegetable broth instead of water and topped it with lemon juice, black beans, avocado, grape tomatoes, corn, onion, and cilantro.
Bonus: Stir everything together and put it in the fridge overnight. Then eat the leftovers with tortilla chips. So good!
Crepes can be breakfast, dinner, or dessert. I filled mine with nutella and banana slices for breakfast. On the savory side, I used broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, and butter. Crepes are easy to make in larger batches, so that cooking once can result in multiple (different!) meals.
Making quiche was a reader suggestion, and he was spot on!
I used this recipe, substituting turkey bacon. There are endless varieties of quiche, so it’s a great meal to experiment with without getting bored.
I’m excited to eat out again, but I think my frequent fast food stops will be significantly less in the future. My standard arsenal of dinner ideas has increased, making me more likely to cook at home.
And now that October is almost over, it’s time to move on to Side Gig November: NaNoWriMo!
For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writer’s Month, an event which occurs each November. Writers attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. (Yes, it sounds crazy. That’s because it is crazy!)
Although I would love to have a fantastic manuscript at the end of next month, my primary goal is to get myself writing again.
Join me as I start this new adventure!