Victory!

Today I finished my NaNoWriMo book at 51,227 words.

First and foremost, I want to thank my husband for his support and understanding. I quit my full time job back in December so I could focus more on my writing and he had supported me this entire time. Every time I was feeling un-motivated, he was always there to give me the push I needed. Thank you Will for your love and support!

NaNoWriMo still has 9 days left… What will I be doing?
I will be using this time to review my work and making revisions, edits, and corrections. There are many great publishing opportunities to the winners of NaNo and I want to be certain that my work is at its best.

What did I enjoy most about NaNoWrimo 2013?
This was my first Nano. I hit the ground running at midnight on November 1st. I most enjoyed updating my word count each. I found it really helpful to know the pace at which I was writing and my expected date of completion based on that pace.

What would I do differently if I had a chance to go back?
I would definitely plan more. I had more of an outline than some fellow competitors I met, but I also suffered tremendous plot changes. In the future I would prefer to have a better layout of the story before beginning.

What was most surprising about my NaNoWriMo experience?
I was most surprised by what I was able to accomplish in such a short timeframe. Competition really gets me going, I was impressed by myself every step of the way.

Would I recommend NaNoWriMo?
I have been recommending NaNo left and right since I began. It has been and amazing experience for me and I think anyone who has even the slightest interest in writing should give it a shot.

 

If anyone would like to review my rough draft, it can be found here: http://authors.tablo.com.au/nanowrimo/Mzk1MA==

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5 Chapters in 3 days…

What is the most you have ever written in a day? How about two? Three?

I have written about 13,000 over the past 3 days. My mind is blown! I don’t say that to brag, I say that because personally… I didn’t know I was capable of something like that. This is what has impressed me the most about my participation in NaNoWriMo. I have been setting the bar too low for myself, and it is going to stop.

Before NaNo, I was proud of myself just for writing over 1,000 words in 2 to about 2.5 hours. I thought I was doing well, it made it easy for me to determine a rough estimate of my completion dates, and I was happy. Since I began NaNo, I consistently write about 2,500 words in under 2 hours. Over the past 2 days, I gave myself 2 separate writing spurts to account for 5,000 words a day.

What has attributed to my sudden ability to write more in the same amount of time? I believe that I am capable of producing more now because of NaNoWriMo’s tight deadline. I have known from the very beginning that my book was due at midnight on November 30th, so I planned accordingly. I wanted to give myself some buffer time and also a chance to edit before the deadline, so my goal became one 2,500 word chapter per day. I thought that I would have to set aside time to write twice per day to achieve this goal, but I was so amped for the challenge that it wasn’t necessary.

My recommendation to you is that if you find yourself not producing as much work as you would like, raise your bar! It’s so easy to keep pushing back the due date, but take a chance, challenge yourself and push up your due date. Sometimes we need a little fire to kick everything back into gear. Make it fun, too. I think for my next book, I’ll set my deadline and I’ll bet a nice dinner (paid for or cooked by me) to my husband if I don’t achieve my goal. 

Today I am just on a high from what I’ve accomplished. I have literally been dancing around my house in celebration. Tomorrow I write the final chapter of my book, and you will hear me shout that I’ve won NaNoWriMo 2013.

Take care everyone, I’m off to go blow everyone’s mind in class with my presentation now.

Powering Through

Sorry, it’s been a while… bit of a busy week.

I will be doubling up my writing time today and tomorrow, because I was unable to complete any chapters over the weekend. The good news is that if I am successful in writing 2 chapters today and another 2 chapters tomorrow… I will be completing my book on Thursday!

I didn’t write over the weekend because I had to work all day Saturday and all dat on Sunday. Usually I have time to write while I am at work, but it just didn’t happen this weekend. I also had to complete my portion of a group project for my college, so that was all of my free time. I have doubled up in the past, and it can be exhausting, but to me, it is well worth it to stay on track.

So, that brings me to today’s topic: Powering Through.

I’ll admit, that I have struggled with the last couple of chapters I have written. When the story was new and exciting, words just seemed to flow through my fingertips… I have finally gotten to that point that I fantasize about this story and its characters, but now I’m having a hard time getting to that finish line. I recently wrote a chapter that took me over 3 hours to write, which is ridiculous when you consider for the purpose of NaNoWriMo, my chapters are only 2500 words. The chapter didn’t take nearly as long, but it certainly felt like work.

When writing begins to feel like work, it is easy to say “just walk away” … “I’ll come back to it”. The truth is, at least for me, when I walk away from my designated writing time…. I am unlikely to go back and finish that later. I write between 9AM and 11AM every day. That is my time. I have had my coffee, eaten my breakfast, and there are no distractions. Once I get past lunch time, the entire atmosphere of the house just seems wrong to write. Suddenly there are things on TV to watch, other things I need to check on, groceries to buy, and list goes on and on. My writing time is my golden time, and I have to use it to its full potential.

I have read many of the Pep Talks for NaNoWriMo and they suggest that when you are stuck, to simply write the scene or chapter that excites you… I do not recommend that, and I’ll tell you why. I used to do that very thing, all the time. I would hear a song on the radio and envision a scene so strong that I could cry… and I would be inspired to write it down immediately. I would re-read it and think “this is perfect! I can’t wait until I get to the point in my story that I can use this scene.” The problem is that when you (.. I..) write a scene that you have not built up to yet, you’re not taking everything into consideration. The characters may go through things that you had not originally intended. I’ll give you en example of my prediction writing for NaNoWriMo:

NaNoWriMo asks for a synopsis of the story and also for an excerpt when you list it on your profile. Looking at my story now, the synopsis is not even entirely accurate. For the excerpt I used immediately, it was obvious that I initially planned to write the story in the 3rd person, but when I began actually writing it, I switched to 1st person. I couldn’t even use most of the excerpt that I used because it didn’t fit my storyline by the time I got to that part. I thought I knew exactly how my story ended, and if I would have spent part of my writing time to write the ending while it was fresh in my mind…. it would have been wasted… ALL OF IT. My ending now, is not even remotely close to the original ending.

I know not everyone’s story goes through so many major changes as my current story has… but I think it is more useful to power through the writing rut and keep the story on track. Yes, you will probably have to go back and edit the scenes that you forced, but at least you have something to work with now. There is no promise that if you skip that scene now…. that you will be any more inspired to write it later. Sometimes scenes that are necessary just aren’t fun to write. 

This is just my two cents, and it is what works for me. I can’t believe that I am going to win my first NaNoWriMo this week! I am beyond excited, and I’m looking forward to starting the editing process and having a publish ready story by the end of the month.

 

Thank you to all of you who read this blog. I feel like you reading this helps me to be accountable to my goals, and if anything that I have written helps you, then that is icing on the cake!

 

Happy Monday, take care!

What makes the perfect ending?

I am an a proponent of the happy ending. No, I’m talking about what comes after the massage, but the ending to the story. I’m the reason why so much of Hollywood is now predictable, we almost always know that no matter what the characters go through, it will all work out in the end.

So, what then makes the perfect ending? We know that endings don’t have to end happy… hello Romeo and Juliet… But is that what most people want? I think what most people want is an ending that is not so predictable. Coming up with an original idea for ending is difficult and I think the surprise for the ending is something you build throughout the story.

I am unintentionally writing an unsuspecting ending to my current story. I say unintentional because the story is no longer ending how it was meant to end when I started writing. Through a couple moments of creative liberty, I accidentally made my ending an impossible one. The ending I was now stuck with was one that did not make me and I did not think it would make the readers happy. I saw my ending as a lose-lose-lose. Not good for me, the readers, or the characters. 

I wanted a new ending, one that wrapped up the storyline to a natural conclusion, and yet continues on ever so slightly becoming a win-win for my main characters.  When I finally figured out what the ending would be, I was astounded that I hadn’t considered it before. 

I think the best way to create a surprising ending is to decide what the expected ending would be and then go away from it. I wouldn’t completely ditch the expected ending, I would expand on it and change it so that it becomes something original. We all know how the boy meets girl story ends… they fall in love and live happily ever after. In Romeo and Juilet the boy and girl do end up together, but the twist is they both die. 

Tell me some of your favorite endings. I love the ending to the movie “Just Like Heaven”. You think that all is lost, and yet it works out. Sure I hoped the entire time that I would, but there was a chance that it wouldn’t and it just made me happy to see them together.

Thanks for reading, and have a good week!

Post NaNoWriMo write-a-thon and Veteran’s Day

First things first. I promised an update about how Saturday’s write-a-thon went. I did not achieve as much as I hoped I would. I really thought in 4 hours I would be able to hit 3 chapters. Unfortunately, since I don’t usually write in a busy coffee shop, I found myself distracted by unimportant things… things I usually don’t worry about. I thought that the chair was uncomfortable, I thought about if I should take my laptop with me if I wanted to order food and a drink. I thought the jazz music was too loud and ultimately had to throw in my earplugs and listen to my IPod… but I normally to write to music. 

Once I finally got settled to begin writing I got 2 sentences in and got stuck. When I had been setting up, I quickly changed my chapter guide because it no longer follow the path I was taking for my book and I didn’t know what to write. I took me a little while to get words on paper but slowly ideas started flowing, page by page, the chapter was finally getting written. I took me over two hours for that first chapter. The second chapter I wrote was a little bit easier, but I took a break to order lunch and then another short break to eat my lunch. I finished the second chapter with about 7 minutes to spare from my 4-hour pledge. So, I completed two chapters and wrote just over 5,500 words. I had hoped to write more, but I am satisfied with what I achieved.

What’s the most you’ve ever written in a single sitting?

I know the point of the write-a-thon was to write continuously for the entire day, but my husband had planned a party at out house beginning in the early afternoon, so after leaving the coffee shop, I was done writing for the day. I did write another full chapter yesterday though… I’m only 2000 words shy of being 1/2 way done and that is very exciting. So far, if I keep writing like I am, it is projected I will finish my novel on November 22. That will leave me over a week to edit and re-write anything. I’m astounded by well my first NaNo is going!

And now: Happy Veteran’s Day to all those who have served and are currently serving.

I am a Veteran as well… I served 6 years active duty in the Navy and deployed twice: once to the Philippines and once to Afghanistan. I know a lot of Veteran’s share my sentiment, so I’ll share that with you now. I have a hard time accepting thanks from people. I go to places like Sea World and on a Carnival cruise and they want the military members past and present to stand up so we can be acknowledged and thanked. Most times I would rather stay seated and clap along with everyone else. To me, I haven’t done anything worthy of being thanked. I was really great at my job, but that is all my service was to me: a job.

When I was 18, my Dad gave me to options. I could go to college or I could join the military, but I wasn’t staying home. I didn’t get into the college I wanted and I had already participated in 4 years of Naval Junior Reserve Office Trains Corps program at my high school, so joining the Navy made sense. I was in Intel, meaning that I was a glorified Google searcher and I made A LOT of powerpoint presentations. It was my job to keep the Commanding Officer and staff updated on every threat to our battalion or give them the specifics of an area we were traveling to. I had a desk job, that is all. I didn’t drive on the roads rigged with explosives and I didn’t shoot at things. Yes, my desk was sometimes in a war zone and sometimes I had to hide out in a bunker while our base was threatened with rockets, but nothing bad happened to me on deployments. My Commanding Officer and staff were always pleased with my work ethic and sometimes they said the safety of our battalion (no casualties) was in part thanks to what I did. But I just can’t see it that way.

Looking at pictures of me with a rifle slung across my back just seems strange. I was definitely not one of those girls that liked to shoot. I am in the Navy Reserves now, but I still consider myself to be a civilian. I am proud of the work I did in the Navy, I just don’t think it is deserving of thanks. If you look through my photos of deployment you would see people having a good time, and that is all I really remember, I don’t dwell on the bad. Here is my Afghanistan: Sundays we played Volleyball and went shopping at the boardwalk, for Christmas I decorated my room and my workspace, one night Carrabas and Outback cooked up restaurant quality food and it was AMAZING! I remember the night it flooded and me and my roommate had to jump over small rivers to get out laundry, but it was too flooded to go get dinner. I remember countless hours of watching TV shows on my laptop and being excited when we got satellite TV in our room. My favorite night was our over the hump party. We had a DJ come and play us music, and we danced and sang on the back of one of the trucks. I had fun in Afghanistan, though I’m sure you never hear those stories…

I don’t mean any disrespect to those that did have a hard deployment and suffer from it’s effects, you are the ones in my mind who deserve all the thanks. I was lucky, and I know that, and again that is why I have a hard time hearing the thanks.

For those of you who still wish to express me thanks, YOU’RE WELCOME, I’m just a girl doing a job to the best of my ability and I appreciate that you appreciate what we (the military) are doing.

 

-Christina 

And the story evolves

The problem with taking a concept to a chapter guide in a matter of hours is you don’t allow yourself enough to get to know the characters. At least that is what is happening to me with NaNoWriMo (nano). I needed some sort of guideline to help towards the finish line of this adventure, and so before the competition began I spat the chapter guideline.

I mentioned it before and now I will say it again: A chapter guide is great tool to assist you in writing your story, but you should not stick to it 100% My story has evolved. It was just a baby concept in the beginning. The idea is there is a girl who is so beautiful that Death (the Grim Reaper) had fallen in love with her. Death kill’s the girl quite frequently to spend time with her. Now when I wrote my chapter guide, I assumed that the girl would be extremely resistant to all of Death’s advances all the way until the end. I was wrong.

I have gotten to know more about my Death character, who I have named Renn, and I quite like him. Renn is a gentleman of all eras and he is very kind to the girl, Annabelle Joy. Death is lonely, he lives in Limbo and all he does for all eternity is reap souls. Annabelle is the only person in all of eternity that brings him happiness. 

Because Death is now a more likable character, my main girl, Annabelle is able to see him in some human light and she can develop different emotions about him. I now know that she is going to go through phases on how much she trusts Death, whether she believes she could love him, why she must hate Death, and why she doesn’t want to stay in Limbo with Death. My story was originally a three point story with some fluff holding it together, but now it has real emotions behind it.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how my story turns out. The title is “The 50 Deaths of Annabelle Joy”. I’m sure I’ll share a chapter or two on here once it is complete.

Enjoy your Friday!

1/5 Completion!

I’m titling today’s post in celebration of achieving my first NaNoWriMo victory. My Dad was teasing my excited facebook post about being 1/5 done with my book. The only reason I am celebrating by calling it 1/5 complete is because today achieved 10,000+ of 50,000 words required to “win” Nano. I don’t think I’ll be celebrating 2/5s and 3/5s, I probably won’t comment about my word count again until I reach the 1/2 way point.

Saturday is the write-a-thon… so basically I pledge to write for either 1 hour, 2 hours, or 8 hours. Don’t ask me why there is nothing in between 2 and 8 hours, I really don’t know. Honestly I think I’m going to pledge for 4 straight hours of writing. My computer and I have a love/hate relationship… especially with the keyboard tray which digs into my wrists as I type. So if you have any words of encouragement as I strive to kill myself with long hours of consistent writing, I would love to hear them. Fear not, I will let you know of my success and how much I was able to accomplish in said time.

I’m enjoying where my story is heading, though I fear that I may be repeating myself a lot… but that will be discovered during the editing phase. I am tired, and could really use a break, but I am committed to this journey with Nano. I read an inspiring post from a fellow Nano competitor who joined Nano in its 2nd year, she actually committed to the 50,000 word count in a 10 day period, and she achieved it! This I think is something I may try for in the future. I could accomplish so much more if I continued to push myself.

I’m looking forward to my next Nano celebration, but I’m sure I’ll be venting my frustrations before then.

 

Have a wonderful night!