NaNoWriMo

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The Good, The Okay, and the Final Word (A NaNoWriMo Recap)

When last we met, I was in the midst of a two-pronged NaNoWriMo experiment.

Prong One: The Pot Luck Technique, where I worked on five different projects, following my brain/muse to whatever WIP it was inspired to work on in any given moment.

Prong Two: The Reverse NaNo Technique, where I started off the month with higher-than-average daily word count goals that got increasingly smaller as the month progressed.

Today, I shall talk about the results of this experiment.

First of all, this happened:

So yes, I earned a win. It was my fastest win ever (earned on November 19th), and I think that’s totally due to the aforementioned experiments (details to come). Because I am my region’s ML, I continued to write past the 50k mark (sticking around through the entire month is part of the deal) and ended up with a grand total of 63,596 words.

Which may sound impressive, but you should know that my wrimo buddies were absolutely crushing it this past month. One of them wrote over 235k words. In thirty days. Another had over 130k, and several ended up over the 80k mark. I bow down to their awesomeness.

Even if they made me feel like a slacker.

But seriously, they’re awesome.

Okay, so on with the post. Let’s talk about the techniques and what I thought of them.

POT LUCK TECHNIQUE

I liked this technique. It really allowed me the flexibility to follow my creativity wherever it went (even if it just went to bed). Usually in November, when I’m working on my one WIP, and have tunnel vision or whatever, I get stuck from time to time. I flounder, I stare at a blinking cursor, and basically I do all those things you never want to do when you’re trying to write 50k words in thirty days.

Having the ability to shift from one WIP to another cut down on those less-productive periods. Don’t get me wrong—they still happened, but they didn’t happen as often nor did they last as long. I had five WIPs from which to choose in three different genres, and that really appealed to my particular mindset this past month. I knew I was lacking in focus, so having options (and having so many options) definitely took some of the pressure off.

Here’s where the five WIPs ended up. The first number is the starting word count on November 1st. The second number is the word count as of midnight on November 30th.

Terrible Romance Sequel: 49,380/61,673

Adventures In Babysitting: 0/9,762

Threnody: 0/23,300

How Many Angels: 0/9,740

The Third One: 0/8,622

I think I will definitely make use of this technique again. Overall, the Pot Luck Technique gets two enthusiastic thumbs up.

THE REVERSE NANO TECHNIQUE

This technique was…fine. I was less thrilled with this and probably will not be using it again in the future.

But that is because about two weeks into this thing, I had about 80% of my word count total done because I was writing 3,000–4,000 words every day because I was trying to hit those Reverse NaNo daily goals (the first two weeks of this technique are brutal, word count wise). A fellow wrimo sent me a message pointing out how close I was to winning (a fact I had not actually noticed because I was so hyper focused on the daily word counts and not the cumulative total) and when I realized the truth of that statement, I decided to just keep the pedal to the metal and power through to the end.

Which led, as I’m sure you can imagine, to some exhaustion and maybe a wee bit of burnout. I woke up on November 6th and literally said, “Oh God. It’s only Day Six. How the hell am I going to make it through the rest of the month?!?”

So while it did lead to some not-too-shabby daily word counts, I don’t think this technique was worthwhile for me in the long run. I’m not sorry to have tried it, though. We never know what will work for us until we try it out. But yeah. This technique was a big Meh for me.

THE FINAL WORD

While I hit the 50k goal, I did not achieve my goal of completing the first draft of the Terrible Romance Sequel. (Honestly, between those two goals, I would have rather finished the draft, but that didn’t work out.) Some progress was made, however, and I may have worked through a major plot problem early on in the story—meaning I at least justified keeping it as is for now…So, not the progress I had been hoping for, but teeny tiny progress (or at least the temporary illusion of it) all the same.

I’m still not convinced that ANY of the five WIPs I worked on in November will ever amount to anything at all (I seriously don’t think I’m smart enough to pull off my concept for TRS), but it was an interesting thought experiment, if nothing else. And my brain offered up an intriguing-as-hell possibility for Threnody. I don’t know nearly enough about that project yet to know if that possibility is at all viable (and if it is, it would likely only be a part of a subplot), but it doesn’t matter right now.

The point of NaNoWriMo (for me, at least) is just to set a big, crazy goal for myself and jump down that rabbit hole of creativity and see where I end up. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Sure, I’m way happier when it works out, but there’s always something to be learned from the journey itself.

Or something possibly smart-ish sounding like that. I’m really tired.

Anyway, because I’m obsessed with the show, here’s a nice inspirational Ted Lasso gif with which to end this post:

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo last month? If so, how’d you do?

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe and well, all.

The Reverse NaNo

First up, my brother’s birthday was yesterday, and as he is the coolest brother—who is and will forever be way smarter and funnier than I am—I wanted to take a moment to say…

Happy Birthday!!

Onto the rest of the post!

So, as you may remember from my last post, I am participating in NaNoWriMo this month, as I often do in November.

This year, right before the start of the month, one of the wrimos (someone who participates in NaNoWriMo, in case you are unfamiliar with the term) in my region said she was going to do a reverse NaNo this year. Never having heard of it, I asked if that meant she would attempt to delete 50,000 words in November (which, frankly, sounds like something I could definitely do).

But, no. It turns out that is not what the Reverse NaNo technique is.

The Reverse NaNo—also known in some circles as The Reward System or The Downhill Method, or the Incredible Shrinking Daily Goal—was devised by a participant in 2010 as a way to take advantage of the fact that many wrimos start off the month strong. We’re fresh, we’re full of ideas, and we’re raring to go. Words flow more easily and everything is happy and shiny and bright.

And then comes the rest of November. We get tired. Ideas aren’t flowing as easily as they were before. Our brains stop with the words-putting-into-sentence doing. There are holidays and day jobs and kids and pets and neighbors who insist on putting up giant inflatable snowmen on their lawns even though it’s only November 8th and you live in Florida where there’s no damn snow so it doesn’t make any damn sense that your stupid inflatable snowman is holding a sign saying he’s freezing his ass off because (1) he doesn’t have an ass to freeze off and (2) again, it’s Florida, so if anything, his ass should be melting off, and there are also dogs somewhere (certainly NOT inside my house…) who insist on barking incessantly at the giant inflatable snowman not freezing his ass off on the neighbor’s lawn.

That incredibly generic example aside, the point is, the challenge often gets harder as we go along. For whatever reason.

So the Reverse NaNo looks to take advantage of the strong, fresh start by having higher daily word count goals that grow smaller as the month progresses. Traditionally, the daily word count goal in NaNoWriMo is 1,667 words per day. With the Reverse NaNo, your Day 1 goal is a whopping 3,346 words. But your Day 30 goal is a very manageable 1 word.

As I have lately been one of those wrimos who starts off strong and fades fast, I thought I would give the Reverse NaNo technique a try. It’s going…all right thus far. I admit I am looking forward to those smaller and smaller word count goals because I know I definitely can’t keep up this pace. These first two weeks are…a lot.

And I am just…running low on…all the things. All five WIPs have been started. I had really hoped I wouldn’t need to do that so soon into the month, but we do what we must. It’s some robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul thing or whatever.

I did, however, have an idea pop up yesterday, just out of the blue, for one of those five WIPs that made me go…

Now I’m hoping this shiny, new idea will be good for a decent amount of words, if I can figure out how to get it down on paper (or, you know, in a Word document. Whatever.). I have no idea if it’s a viable idea that will survive outside of November, but that’s December’s problem.

Still, if anyone has any spare plot lying around that they’re not using, feel free to box it on up and send it my way…

NaNo Stats

Word count goal: 50,000

Where the regular WC should be: 16,670

Where the Reverse NaNo WC should be: 28,157

Where my WC actually is: 29,327

WIP(s) getting the most love: How Many Angels and The Third One

Yeah. I don’t get it, either. Especially The Third One. I mean, the second damn book in this series isn’t even finished, but whatever. When has my brain ever done anything that could even remotely count as making sense?

All right, so on that note, I’m going back down into the word mines or at least I’m gonna crawl under my desk and take a nap.

Tune in next Wednesday for another action-packed update on my multi-faceted NaNoWriMo experiment.

Be safe and well, all.

The Plan (NaNoWriMo Edition)

Today’s post would normally be about my goals for the month, but as it’s November, my goal is to participate in and maybe even win NaNoWriMo, as evidenced by my super cool badge here:

So, today I thought I might talk about how I plan to do that. If it can be considered a plan. It doesn’t feel much like a plan, but it is at least a little more than the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I was working with before, so maybe?

Anyway, this month’s theme is Pot Luck.

Meaning I didn’t have an idea for a singular story that could net me 50,000 words, so I decided to call upon my current slate of unfinished/unstarted WIPs in hopes that between all of them I can cobble together those elusive 50,000 words.

This puts me firmly in the NaNo Rebel category, but truth be told, I am a rebel in November more often than I’m not. (And somewhere, the support group of authority figures who had the displeasure of trying to tell me what to do just collectively scoffed and said, “Yeah. It’s not just November, you pain in the ass.”)

So here now, for your reading pleasure, are the WIPs on which I hope to be working this month:

Terrible Romance Sequel

As you may have guessed from the very clever name, this is supposed to be the next installment of the Terrible Romance Series. I started it last November during NaNoWriMo and didn’t finish it and didn’t look at it again until recently when I took it out of the drawer to take stock of its state, for lack of a better word.

Yeah…it turns out there really isn’t a plot. Or a beginning or an end. Or a romance between my main characters, but why is that important in a romance novel?

One of my goals for 2021 was to finish the first draft of this story, so I would like to see if I can maybe do that this month. It will require me to come up with an actual plot, though, (and probably some romance) so we’ll have to see how it goes.

—Adventures In Babysitting

This is the working title for a companion novella idea I had for my fantasy series, The Coileáin Chronicles. It doesn’t have very much in the way of a plot yet (why do none of my stories have plots?!?), so again, we’ll have to see how it goes.

Threnody

This is the title for the fourth book in The Coileáin Chronicles. You know, the one I really didn’t want to write? Yeah, well, it has a name now, and I’m super thrilled about it. And no, it doesn’t have a plot, but apparently, I just don’t work that way anymore.

At this point, I’m viewing this more as a thought exercise. I’m not sure what will happen, so I’m going to explore what can happen and see where that takes me. Who knows—maybe it’ll lead to a better ending for Full Circle.

—The Third One

This is the third intended installment of the Terrible Romance Series. Because OF COURSE there are three of them. It’s on the list mostly because I have some ideas for it, and it’s possible that working on the Terrible Romance Sequel could lead to additional ideas, and every idea I get down is more words toward that 50k. So it’s on the list.

How Many Angels

This is my attempt at literary fiction. It’s supposed to be a hybrid of Steel Magnolias and William Faulker’s As I Lay Dying but set in Maine. I started writing it back in high school (so, you know, back in the dark ages) and have been ignoring it since college. I’m curious if I can get past all of the extremely cringe-worthy crap I wrote back then (because OMG, it’s terrible) to see if there’s a worthwhile story buried in there somewhere. Because right now, I think the only thing maybe even a little salvageable here is the concept.

I don’t know how this month-long experiment will go. I admit I don’t have high hopes for a win. I just feel too unfocused for that. I don’t mind if I don’t get a win, though. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve lost, and it won’t be the last. Besides, though I admit I do enjoy winning, I don’t do this for the win. I do this thing for the challenge itself. I want to see what will happen…even if all that happens is me spending thirty days staring at a blinking cursor while ingesting an inhuman amount of sugar.

But who knows? Perhaps I shall surprise myself. The good thing about not having high hopes is that it’s a hell of a lot easier to meet and/or exceed those expectations. (And yeah, you’re probably going to look at the word count stats below and be all, “WTF are you talking about, you weirdo? It look like it’s going all right to me.” To which I have to say, “Yes, I am more than a weirdo, and I usually crush the word count in the first week. It doesn’t mean anything.”)

Perhaps one of these projects will catch fire (hopefully not literally, though…) and grab hold and inspire the hell out of me.

It could happen.

NaNoWriMo started on Monday, so I am now three days into the Pot Luck experiment. Here’s where things stand thus far:

CAMP STATS

Word count goal: 50,000

Where the WC should be: 5,001

Where the WC actually is: 7,648

WIP getting the most love: Adventures In Babysitting (7,081 words)

What will happen? Stay tuned to this channel for occasional updates. Unless I forget or go into some kind of sugar coma. If that happens, I’ll see y’all in December.

Stay safe and well, all.

October Goals

It’s a new month, y’all, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of MY MONTHLY GOALS!

But before we get to the main event, let’s take a look at how I did with last month’s goals…

—Complete the first draft of Full Circle

Well…it’s…let’s just say I am done working on it. For now. Maybe forever. Probably not forever, but I don’t know. What I do know is that I wrote the worst ending in the history of endings (Congratulations, Game of Thrones, you’re off the hook!), which doesn’t really matter given that the whole damn book is pretty much held together by scotch tape and chewing gum. I’m not convinced any of it is anything worthwhile, but the manuscript is now sitting in the metaphorical drawer until at least January (maybe longer. We’ll see how it goes) and the storyboard went through the shredder, so…I’m done working on it.

But because I’m so unimpressed with…well, everything, these days, this is not something I’m choosing to celebrate.

—Figure out September’s marketing attempt and, you know, attempt it

I did this. I mean, these attempts all year have been the silliest, smallest things that could possibly be considered ‘marketing’ and ‘attempts’, so it’s not like I’m really achieving a whole hell of a lot here, but I did do a little something.

—Walk at least three miles every day

This, I did. Well, on average, anyway. I was short a couple of days for various reasons, but my daily average was 3.5 miles per day.

Thanks, puppies!

Now for October’s goals…

—Make a plan for NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, and I am once again acting as my region’s ML (municipal liaison), so participating in the main event is part of the deal.

I don’t, however, have a solid plan of what I want to work on. Or any plan, really. The original plan from way back in January was to work on a brand new project because, in theory, both Full Circle and Terrible Romance Sequel would be finished and sitting in the drawer come November.

Which…didn’t happen.

So a new plan is in order. Because right now, this is my project:

—Walk at least three miles every day

Because, apparently, it’s good if one doesn’t just become part of one’s couch or one’s desk chair.

So that’s what I have going on this month. What are your goals? Are you also gearing up for NaNoWriMo? (If you’re looking for wrimo buddies, I can be found using the very clever user name of M.J. Fifield…)

Thanks for stopping by! Stay safe and well, all.

One Last Postcard From Camp: Wishful Thinking

This month finds me at a bit of a loose end.

My Camp NaNoWriMo experiment was not entirely successful, nor entirely unsuccessful, so I’ve been left wondering where do I go from here?

Let’s break it down.

I didn’t finish Full Circle. That was the main goal of the month—to finally type THE END on this first draft—and that didn’t happen. It feels like I may have come close, but…I don’t know if that’s just wishful thinking on my part, or if it could possibly be true.

I do feel as though it may be worth my while to finish the FrankenWIP experiment, to follow this thread through to the end. It feels like, though this ending may need more finessing, it is, perhaps, heading in the right direction. Though I may need to circle the block a few times to find an open parking space or whatever, I am at least in the right neighborhood.

Of course, that could just be wishful thinking, too.

Back in June, I made a deal with myself. I had the thirty-one days of July to play around with FrankenWIP and do whatever I wanted—whatever I could think of—to try and finish the story.

Then—win, lose, or draw—the WIP would go into the metaphorical drawer for a while. If finished, it would stay there until January 2022. If not, it would depend upon any progress made on other writing projects (Don’t you love how I say that as though making progress on things is actually something I do?)

One way or another, this WIP was meant for the metaphorical drawer. Either because it was finished and didn’t need me to look at it anymore, or because I’d be so pissed off at my failure to finish it that I would need it to be in a safe space while I threw a world-class temper tantrum. ‘Cuz I’m mature like that.

But here’s the twist…I don’t actually feel the need to throw a tantrum at all. (I know. I’m shocked, too.) Don’t get me wrong—I’m not happy that I failed yet again to finish this stupid story, but I’m not nearly as upset by that fact as I thought I would be. I know it can’t be because I’m being some kind of reasonable adult about it (because that would never happen), so I wonder if that may be a sign that I have, at last, found the right road to the end and just need a little more time to get there.

Or again…that could just be wishful thinking. I could just need one more month. But I could just as easily need six more months. Or six more years. My ability to judge these things is really quite terrible, so I honestly have no way of knowing.

But all of this leads me to my current quandary: Do I stick with the original plan of sticking this WIP into a drawer for however long that lasts while I work on a different WIP? Or do I keep on keepin’ on, working under the assumption that the ending is just around the corner?

I’m leaning toward the latter right now because my preference would be to put a completed manuscript into the metaphorical drawer, but I don’t know that I trust my ability to make a smart decision in this circumstance. I mean, I also seem to think that Dr Pepper is a good breakfast beverage, so, you know…smart decisions aren’t exactly my strong suit.

So now I turn to you, oh wise readers. What choice do you think I should make? (Note: about the story, I mean. Not my very healthy soda addiction.)

Thanks for stopping by.

Stay safe & well, all.