Losing NaNoWriMo

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Today I’m going to talk about a very real possibility. Instead of telling you about my word count in NaNoWriMo (which unfortunately is still the same), I wanted to talk about the fact that some of us participating this year might lose. It’s a possibility every year, one that sometimes I try to forget, but it’s real nonetheless.

But is there such a thing as losing in NaNoWriMo? Maybe at the end of 30 days you won’t be at 50k, but if you’ve written something I think that’s still a win. NaNoWriMo is all about challenging yourself, and sometimes the challenge gets the best of you. That just means next time you’ll be better prepared. I know a lot of writers right now, like me, who are behind.

It’s the 16th day. I’m only at 10k, so right now I’m looking at the end of the month, realizing I might not be at 50k like I’d want to be. But this month also taught me a lot about myself as a writer and also what I need to do in order to be successful next time. Win or lose, I gained a new book out of this challenge, so I’m happy to be taking that with me.

Failure in writing is one of the hardest challenges. We see it in rejection letters from publishers and agents, criticism (sometimes), and writer’s block. All these things that feel like we’ve failed in some way are real. They challenge us as writers (whether you’re experienced or not). They make you ask the question “Am I going to give up?” And if you can move past the failure and write again the next day, then you know you’re cut out for this line of work. It’s not for everyone, but if you have the passion it’ll drive you unlike anything you’ve ever known.

So yes technically at the end of this month if you’re not at 50k, you’ve lost in the eyes of NaNoWriMo rules. But on the other hand, you might have won something bigger. And I truly believe if at the end of this month you can walk away and start December out with the intentions to keep writing, you’re on the right path. You’ve got this. Maybe this year NaNoWriMo just wasn’t for you. Next year and the years ahead of that all hold possibilities, and every time you try, you have a chance of succeeding.

If you’re behind, don’t worry. Keep on writing. Let’s make the most out of the time we have left this year. You never know, you might end up having a weekend without any plans and end up catching up. (Or accomplishing more than you planned.) Take each day one word at a time.

Lindsey Richardson

P.S. I know I still owe you guys the post about hitting 10k in my NaNoWriMo novel. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten! I’ll be sharing that tomorrow, so be sure to check back in then.

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NaNoWriMo: Day 12

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First before I go any further, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who participated in the cover reveal yesterday. I had a great time connecting with all of you, and it has me even more excited for the release. (Who knew that was possible?!)

As for NaNoWriMo… it’s day 12. This month is flying by, and I’ve been somewhat counter productive. I’m going to admit it hasn’t been my strongest month, and definitely not my strongest NaNoWriMo. The past 2 that I participated in I had been writing the final two books in the Magicians series. Then I at least had more comfort with the setting, characters, etc. That’s not to excuse how poorly I feel like I’m doing this year, but it’s a big difference.

I was almost at 10k the other day when I decided to (for the third time) “start over.” Now I’m at 5k. Here’s how it happened. The first story idea I threw out entirely. Then the second story idea lead me into what is now the third story idea (and hopefully the last!). As much as I’ve been trying to follow my own advice, and the advice of others, you can’t write for 30 days a story you don’t have passion for. So this third idea I’m not working into I started yesterday. I wrote 5k since yesterday afternoon to this morning, so it seems to be working out so far. I have a lot more as far as the world and magic system written down to help me know where to go next.

12 days in doesn’t seem like too much. It seems like maybe if you’re behind you can still catch up, and for those of you, like me, who are I still believe that. I believe you can catch up; sometimes you just need to make it past the beginning. I’m going to hold onto that hope solely because I’d love to have at least a 50k novel at the end of this month. But regardless at this point even if I don’t win NaNoWriMo with 50k, I’m determined to win by walking away with a story idea I’ll stick with long after November.

This book I’m working on right now is meant to set me up for my next several releases. So it carries a lot of weight in terms of where I want to move forward with my books and for my readers.

So we’ll see… maybe I can do it, and maybe not. At this point I’m looking more at what’s in front of me than at the stats on NaNoWriMo that tell me I’m not going to finish until January if I continue on at this pace.

So tell me, are you behind, ahead or on track? Leave a comment below with what’s been working for you this month.

Lindsey Richardson

NaNoWriMo: Day 8 (AM)

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NaNoWriMo day 8. Word Count: 7,223. Words left: 42,777. Mood: exhausted.

If you’ve been following my NaNoWriMo updates or just the blog in general, you might have noticed since day 3 of the challenge I went silent (at least on the blog). In truth over the past few days this challenge has really been causing me all sorts of anxiety. And if you’re looking at my word count today you’re probably wondering how I went back instead of moving forward.

Where I was on day 3 with Frost’s Bite was not something I could continue with. I wasn’t getting attached, and I was having serious doubts. Such serious doubts that I wondered about trashing the idea altogether. And in a way yesterday I did just that. It’s currently 1am here, so when I’m calling this “day 8” because of it being technically Tuesday, it still feels like day 7 to me. And while my word count was originally to reach 10 or 11k today, I wrote over 7k new words. At this point I gotta take what I can get.

The hardest part about NaNoWriMo is once you start noticing you’re behind it leads to a lot of doubting and fears. That’s where I’ve been these past few days while also analyzing the story I chose.

So I kept my favorite character names and made a dramatic change to the story. So far the title has stayed the same (mainly because I don’t have time to worry about it right now), and a few character’s names have also stayed the same. The main plot I was rolling with before has changed entirely. I’m using my journal to write down ideas for later, and I’m hoping this huge change isn’t going to hurt me later on.

I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo last year because of my wedding, but the two years before that I wrote sequels to books I was already very familiar with. This year is my first time in a while writing something entirely new. And it’s quite honestly scary because at first everything goes so smoothly, and then before you know it you’re way behind the word count and stressing out like you never thought you could.

Today I know I made a lot of progress, even if my word count tells me I worked backwards. I’ve had a lot of support from writing friends and my husband. This challenge is important to me, and I don’t want to give up because it’s hard right now. It’s not meant to be easy, and I know plenty of people who are also behind on their word count right now. So instead of staying up all night just to hit 10k and then be pounding my head against the wall later today, I decided to stop at 7k and continue on later (once I get some sleep).

I guess the best advice I can give at this point to you (and even myself) is to know when to problem solve. If something isn’t working out address it right away. I made the mistake of trying to force the story because I had already dedicated words and time to it. But today I reached 7k (in one day) on a story that now I’m relating to more. One that I have more creativity with. I can’t explain it fully because it doesn’t make complete sense to me either.

Problem solve. Never let writer’s block take you out.

Wishing all of you luck! Here’s to hoping I can reach my goal tomorrow…

Lindsey Richardson

NaNoWriMo: Day 3

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NaNoWriMo day 3. Word count: 7,071. Words remaining: 42,929. Mood: Tired.

It’s the third day of NaNoWriMo, and I’m going to be honest I actually can’t believe it. It feels like it’s the tenth day. I feel like I’ve been writing this novel for more than just three days, but that isn’t the case. (Shoutout to the calendar for reminding me of the simple things.)

Today I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted to. My word count app, Wordly, actually is telling me I have 82 more words to write today (until I reach my daily goal of 1667). But with having had interviews today (and getting a job!) I admittedly didn’t have a lot of time to write today. I’m definitely planning to get more done this weekend, so I’m remaining hopeful but cautious all the same.

The thing with NaNoWriMo is it’s a constant struggle. With this challenge you can never get too comfort with where you are. One day you’re ahead, and then the next day you might not write nearly as much (and hence start to fall behind). It’s hard, but I also think that’s the great thing about it. This challenge allows you to see what writing every (or almost every) day is like. It teaches you deadlines and pressure and perhaps most importantly of all dedication. At the end of these 30 days we all should be taking away something from this challenge.

By the third day, how are you feeling about your novel? Do you love it, hate it, still can’t decide on it? I’ve personally been pushing myself toward the more exciting action-packed scenes of my novel. Everyone has something different pushing them along, but it’s important to make that for yourself.

Another thing you’re going to realize with NaNoWriMo is you have to rely on yourself. Learn your schedule. Learn what you can and can’t do. Do those crazy 5k Friday sprints, or dare to stay up for one full night. Challenge yourself, and always remember there’s no “right” method to the madness. You’re going to know how to write your novel better than anyone.

It seems like today went by too fast. I’m constantly reminding myself tomorrow is another day, and tomorrow can even be the more productive day. It’s all about ruling your dice and seeing where they land. Maybe today’s your day, and if not aim for tomorrow. Just keep aiming because it’s mind over matter, and you’re more able to do this than you might be thinking today (or tomorrow).

Leave your progress in the comments below if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo! I can’t wait to see where we all are at the end of this adventure. Take it one day at a time, and don’t forget to take breaks when you need them.

Keep on writing!

Lindsey Richardson

NaNoWriMo: Day 2

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Day 2 of NaNoWriMo. My current word count: 5, 486. Words left: 44,514. Mood: hopeful.

You know when I write up two blog posts in one day it’s been a productive (and busy!) day. Today is the second day of NaNoWriMo, and I can’t help but feel hopeful. I reached over 5k today in my novel. It’s interesting to watch as people announce their progress because everyone’s at a different place right now. Some people write crazy fast, and I admire that. And then there’s people like me who are more on the slower side. But at the end of the day we’re all working toward the 50k goal, and the great thing with this challenge is it doesn’t matter how you get there.

If you’re feeling down on your progress –believe me we’ve all been there, and I’ll be there at some point this month too. And what I say to that: Don’t be! Be proud of how far you are, whether you’re only a few hundred words in or you’re way past where you ever expected. Progress is progress no matter how small.

Something I’ve been struggling a lot with (and this is always a problem I have when writing) is analyzing my work. My inner editor keeps begging me to go over that last sentence, that last paragraph, the last three chapters. And I have to keep resisting! NaNoWriMo is all about writing that 50k. And I think the best lesson this challenge teaches us is that it doesn’t matter if you write crap. Right now I’m not sure if I’m over the moon with my first few chapters. Honestly I might hate them later on and be wondering “who wrote this?!” But I’m not letting that stop me.

As for some NaNoWriMo necessities to success, here’s what I’ve been using (that helps a lot):

  • coffee (notice how this is always the first bullet point? It’s that important!)
  • “Wordly” –this is a writing app. I’ve talked about it many times before, and I’m going to keep talking about it because it’s amazing. It’s entirely free, and it’s how I keep track of my word count. I set it to remind me about writing at certain times in the day, and it keeps up with my goal of reaching 50k. I used it for Clara and Claire, and now I’m using it with NaNoWriMo. Seriously get this app or something close to it!!
  • Ommwriter –I wish I could suggest Scrivener, but I don’t have it. If anyone wants to gift it to me this Christmas, I’d love you forever! Ommwriter isn’t free (I think it’s $4-5), but basically it’s really cheap for what it offers. Distraction free writing is huge. It’s so important, especially if you’re like me and get distracted by everything.
  • stationary: journal/paper, pen

So it’s not a lot, but that’s what is keeping me on my toes during all of this.

Remember that you determine your own pace. You might not go as fast as someone else, but it’s easy to fall in love with a story. If you have to leave spaces for parts of the story you’re not sure about for right now and move on. Don’t stay stuck in one place. Just keep writing, and remember after this month you can go back and fix it. (Or if you want never look at it again.)

As for me, I’m working outside my comfort zone with this new novel because it’s unlike anything I’ve done before. So it’s both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. But who knows, maybe after this month I’ll share the first chapter or something on Wattpad for a limited time.

Writing is a beautiful thing, and so long as you know where you are and where you’re headed, you’re covered! At this point I’m glad I’m taking on this challenge again because it reminded me how simple writing can be sometimes. To take away the stress of “oh my gosh this is my next releasing title” and just write is a beautiful thing. I had my break from writing for long enough, and now I’m just glad to have a break from “serious” writing to explore into a genre I wouldn’t usually write.

How far are you into NaNoWriMo? Leave your book title and link to your profile below, and I’ll check out your progress!

I’m not sure if I’m done with writing for the day, but I wanted to write up this post just in case. Keep up the writing!

Lindsey Richardson

NaNoWrimo: Day 1

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Somehow November is already here. I’ve been silent the past few days because we just moved into our new home in Texas, so we were on the road for a couple of days.

And boy do I have a crazy month ahead of me, but I’m still going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year to the best of my ability. I think it’ll help my writing, and I have the perfect story for it too. So without further ado, since November is NaNoWriMo, don’t be surprised that a lot this month will focus on that.

First and foremost, I want to announce my official NaNoWriMo novel. It changed at the last minute, so let me introduce what I’m actually writing now that the big day is here.

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The book is called Frost’s Bite, and I’ll have more details on it a little later on. Right now I’m solely focusing on writing it. But to give you a little insight, it’s my first paranormal novel set in modern times. Anyone who’s read my work before knows this is a huge leap of faith I’m taking, but I started to fall in love with the characters in this book and couldn’t resist.

So far since this morning I’ve written 1,165 words. Mind you I’m doing all of this while still settling into our new home and applying to jobs. My goal is 1667 words at least each day, every day, so that way I can at least hit 50k. 50k isn’t my normal word count for novels, so I don’t expect at 50k the book will be complete, but it’ll be a good start. (Or who knows, maybe I’ll just add on more after the challenge.)

This novel is not the one that will be releasing after Clara and Claire. I have yet to announce that novel, but I’ll be announcing it soon after the release.

As for anyone else who is participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I’m wishing you all the best of luck. This is one of the hardest challenges, but it’s well worth it in the end!

Advice for the first day:

  • drink lots of coffee (or tea) –but most of all just stay hydrated!
  • have a journal or something nearby to write out ideas for future chapters, characters, etc
  • remember to take breaks –you’ll need it!
  • don’t get too caught up in the word count
  • stay inspired –whether it be with music, pictures, etc.

I’m going to keep working throughout the day on my novel, and then I’ll update either later tonight or early tomorrow morning. And if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo don’t forget to add me so I can cheer you on as you write!

I’ll have announcements for Clara and Claire and also announcements about the Magicians series coming within the next few weeks, so keep checking in!

Happy writing, and good luck!

Lindsey Richardson

NaNoWriMo 2016

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With October almost being at an end, it’s time to talk about NaNoWriMo. I’m going to do my best job making this post friendly and useful to people who are new to this challenge and those who are familiar with it.

For those of you who have never heard of the challenge, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. And of course if you have the energy and sanity to write more, you don’t have to stop at the 50k mark. It’s not a challenge that’s for everyone, and that’s okay. NaNoWriMo requires a lot of hard work in a short amount of work. Some authors hate it, others love it. It’s a challenge that I myself debate about every year. So if you’re debating and you can’t make up your mind, probably the best suggestion I can give you is it never hurts to try. The great thing about NaNoWriMo is you can write anything. Write fan fiction if you want to. If it’s your first time just write for the fun of it because that’s going to help you move closer and closer to your goal.

But most importantly, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t make it about winning.

I’ve been a member of NaNoWriMo for 8 years –and 6 of those 8 years I participated. Only once did I officially win (though technically in 2013 I would have wrong but uploaded a few minutes after the deadline). I never do this challenge because I want to win, though that’s a great motivator to keep in your mind. I do this because I love to write, and NaNoWriMo is the time to bust out the novel you’ve been neglecting or the story you were afraid to write. It’s just one month, and then if you absolutely hate what you wrote you can move on with your life. Sounds like a good enough deal to me.

Reasons to not do NaNoWriMo this year? It differs for everyone, but only you know your time management and schedule. Last year I didn’t do it because of my wedding and honeymoon all happening in November. This year I’m going to try to do it, despite the fact that by November I’ll be in a whole new state. It never hurts to try the challenge and then take it one day at a time. With this challenge that’s all you really can do because if you start analyzing it too much you’ll lose your mind.

If you’re eager to learn more and join, go ahead and stop by NaNoWriMo‘s official site. Feel free to stop on by my profile and add me as a buddy. I’ve uploaded my NaNoWriMo novel for this year, and I’ll be sharing more details about it later this month, but for now I’ll leave you with the mock cover I designed.

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Only Parts of Me will be my 2016 NaNoWriMo novel. I don’t have any more details to share at the moment because I’m still prepping, but I’ll let you know more before the start of November. And keep in mind this isn’t the novel I’m planning to release next after Clara and Claire (but it may possibly be for a future release).

What about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year, and what’s your novel? Leave links in the comments, and I’ll go check out your novels. I’ll be sharing more tips and details about the challenge later on.

Lindsey Richardson